Is This Heaven? No, It’s Vermont.

On Thursday night’s show, Saint Rachel Maddow made the point that President Obama has offered to allow states to opt out of his health care law early, if they can come up with a plan that meets the standards set by that law.

So far, none, including all those noisy Republican governors, has taken him up on that offer.

But Vermont is trying.

From Vermont Public Radio yesterday:

After a full day and evening of debate, the Vermont House gave preliminary approval to health care reform legislation that’s designed to put the state on the path toward a single payer system.

The vote on the measure was 89 to 47.

According to the AP, the governor is leading the charge:

Gov. Peter Shumlin, who made single-payer health care a centerpiece of his gubernatorial campaign last year, also praised the legislation. He said it would make Vermont “the first state in the country to make the first substantive step to deliver a health care system where health care will be a right and not a privilege, where health care will follow the individual, not be a requirement of the employer, and where we’ll have an affordable system that contains costs.”

Chairman of the Vermont House Health Care Committee, Mark Larson, said this:

At this point we have nowhere to turn because we have a system that is too fragmented and too complex where there are many cooks but no one is really in charge of dinner.

The legislation is expected to pass the senate, possibly with some modifications, and liberals-progressives everywhere should celebrate this groundbreaking experiment.

Here is just one doctor’s view of the Vermont plan, but listen to her carefully and explain to me where she has it wrong, in terms of a civilized society:

Dr. Rachel Nardin, a neurologist at Cambridge Health Alliance, is one of them. She said the current health care system, even with the reforms in Massachusetts, is so demoralizing, she would strongly consider leaving Massachusetts for Vermont if that state had a single-payer system.

Practicing medicine in our current system is wretched,” Dr. Nardin said in an interview. “Instead of caring for people, we’re fighting with insurers to get what we need for our patients — it’s depressing. For the chance to just care for patients, and not have these fights, sure I’d move.”

Dr. Nardin, who is also co-chair of Massachusetts Physicians for a National Health Program, said she recently cared for an uninsured woman with Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder also known as ALS. “Because she had no insurance, I couldn’t get her a hospital bed, or a wheelchair, I couldn’t get her the most effective medication, I couldn’t get her anything that would maintain her dignity,” Dr. Nardin said. “It is so unnecessarily cruel.” (Ultimately, the patient received help from a private charity.)

The beauty of single payer,” Dr. Nardin said, “is that people have insurance from cradle to grave and when you get sick, you can worry about being sick and how to get better, you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay for care.”

Perhaps it is more important that private insurers make a profit than it is that people maintain their dignity and live free from anxiety about going broke if they get sick.

Or perhaps in the years to come, Vermonters will demonstrate to the rest of America that there is a better way.

Remarks And Asides

Mitch McConnell, who at one time resisted the Tea Party temptation, has now succumbed and is apparently willing to drink a sweat Slurpee straight from Jim DeMint’s booty crack—with a short straw, mind you.

McConnell attacked Chuck Schumer today for accurately describing non-compromising Republicans as “extremists.”  McConnell said that Democrats are the real extremists.  Okay. I agree. Given the state of the budget discussions, congressional Democrats are extremely poor negotiators.  One might even say that if throwing in the towel were an Olympic sport, Democrats would be the Michael Phelps of surrender.

So far, they have managed to give Republicans more than half their budget cuts and have received next to nothing in return.  There must have been some sort of special election I missed.  When did the GOP grab control of the entire government again?

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Donald Trump, God’s gift to atheists everywhere, says that the reason President Obama won’t produce yet another valid birth certificate is that he may be hiding his Muslimism.

I am embracing this issue,” he told MSNBC, “I’m proud of the issue…somebody has to embrace it.” 

Thank you, Jesus.

Trump, by the way, has finally produced a valid birth certificate of his own, which proves once and for all he was not a creation of the Democratic National Committee’s Avatar Division. Let’s face it, that division has its hands full, what with creating and animating Michele Bachmann.

And technicians are still fine-tuning the latest version of Newt Gingrich, a project began long go.  The investment in the Gingrich-bot has paid off handsomely over the years and Democratic programmers are promising even more useful Gingrich quotes as time goes by.

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Speaking of Gingrich, I missed it last week when he criticized House Republicans for not being aggressive enough in the budget negotiations. On blabbing Hugh Hewitt’s talk show, he said Congressional Republicans should demand that President Obama give up his health reform law in exchange for Republicans agreeing to raise the debt ceiling.

I hate to admit it, but given the Democrats’ skill at negotiating, that might not be a bad strategy. If the GOP lawmakers try something like that, expect Democrats to counter-offer with a proposal to repeal those parts of the law already in effect and delay implementation of the rest until 3014.

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An Indiana Republican state legislator said the following in a debate over a jobs highly restrictive abortion bill he introduced, to which an amendment was proposed to make an exception for victims of rape or incest:

…someone who is desirous of an abortion could simply say that they’ve been raped or there’s incest…

To that outrageous pap, Democrat Rep. Linda Lawson, a former sex crimes investigator for the Indiana police, replied:

Women don’t make this up! My Goodness! This is the state of Indiana!

Yes, unfortunately, Ms. Lawson, it is.

Driving Drunk Good For Small Businesses

“These DUI laws are not doing our small businesses in our state any good.  At all. They’re destroying them.” 

Rep. Alan Hale, Montana State House Republican

 

If you listen to the following 40-second clip, you will hear a pro-business argument very similar to other Republican pro-business arguments advanced every day in our nation’s capital, many of them just as ridiculous:

Obama’s Real Waterloo?

Much anger has been directed toward TARP—colloquially known as the bank bailout—and some of it is totally justified. 

In yesterday’s New York Times, Neil Barofsky, on his last day as special inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, wrote that the program,

failed to meet some of its most important goals.

Those goals, he argues, involved “protecting home values and preserving homeownership.”  He wrote:

These Main Street-oriented goals were not, as the Treasury Department is now suggesting, mere window dressing that needed only to be taken “into account.” Rather, they were a central part of the compromise with reluctant members of Congress to cast a vote that in many cases proved to be political suicide.

The act’s emphasis on preserving homeownership was particularly vital to passage. Congress was told that TARP would be used to purchase up to $700 billion of mortgages, and, to obtain the necessary votes, Treasury promised that it would modify those mortgages to assist struggling homeowners. Indeed, the act expressly directs the department to do just that.

Obviously, judging by the condition of the economy—significantly hamstrung by the home mortgage nightmare—not much was done in terms of purchasing mortgages and helping homeowners.  Instead,

Treasury’s plan for TARP shifted from the purchase of mortgages to the infusion of hundreds of billions of dollars into the nation’s largest financial institutions, a shift that came with the express promise that it would restore lending.

Naturally, the promise to restore lending wasn’t backed up with an “effective policy or effort to compel the extension of credit“:

There were no strings attached: no requirement or even incentive to increase lending to home buyers, and against our strong recommendation, not even a request that banks report how they used TARP funds.

Despite a feeble and mostly failed attempt in 2009 to help distressed homeowners, “foreclosures continue to mount, with 8 million to 13 million filings forecast over the program’s lifetime.”  And according to Barofsky, Tim Geithner and Treasury have no plans to change things.

On top of all that, Barofsky makes the sad claim that it appears the too-big-to-fail banks—who “no matter how reckless” “reasonably assume” taxpayers will bail them out again—are still too big to fail, the Treasury Department failing to “support real efforts at reform,” including efforts “to simplify or shrink the most complex financial institutions.”

As Barofsky notes,

The biggest banks are 20 percent larger than they were before the crisis and control a larger part of our economy than ever.

That statement is supported by the Wall Street Journal, which reported that all of the gains leading to record-setting fourth-quarter corporate profits were “in the financial sector“:

After rising like the Phoenix, the financial industry now accounts for about 30% of all operating profits. That’s an amazing share given that the sector accounts for less than 10% of the value added in the economy.

Here’s the dramatic swing, from the Journal article:

Look at that chart and remember the Journal‘s point:

That’s an amazing share given that the sector accounts for less than 10% of the value added in the economy.”  Less than 10%.

TARP was necessary to avoid a complete collapse of the financial system, Barofsky says, but its most lasting legacy may be that,

Treasury’s mismanagement of TARP and its disregard for TARP’s Main Street goals — whether born of incompetence, timidity in the face of a crisis or a mindset too closely aligned with the banks it was supposed to rein in — may have so damaged the credibility of the government as a whole that future policy makers may be politically unable to take the necessary steps to save the system the next time a crisis arises.

If so, this may be Obama’s Waterloo.

Tea Party Hangover?

Good news for a change: It appears the Tea Party is losing face among those most susceptible to the right-wing’s bulldozing down the government.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, the Tea Party’s favorability is trending down generally, but,

The tea party movement’s unfavorable rating rose 15 points since October among lower-income Americans, compared to only five points among those making more than $50,000. Roughly half of all American households have incomes under $50,000, and half make more than that.

The numbers for all:

    Tea Party            

Favorable 32%    Unfavorable: 47% 

Republican Party         

        Favorable: 44%    Unfavorable: 48%         

Democratic Party       

Favorable: 46%     Unfavorable: 48%

“This is the first time that a CNN poll has shown the tea party’s unfavorable ratings as high as those of the two major parties,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “It looks like the rise in the movement’s unfavorable rating has come mostly among people who make less than $50,000.”

Maybe the alarm has finally gone off.  Thank you, Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. John Kasich, Gov. Rick Snyder,  Gov. Rick Scott, Gov. Chris Christie, and those steely Republicans in the U. S. House of Representatives.

Gray-Blind

As I listened to Pat Buchanan and others talk this morning about Obama’s Libyan speech, I thought how comforting it must be to live in a Manichean world, a world in which all the decisions are easy ones, a world in which uncertainty and doubt are enemies, reservation and restraint weaknesses. 

That’s the world of conservatives like Buchanan.

He told us this morning that he was initially against intervention in Libya.  But now that we have gone in we have to go in all the way and get Qaddafi.  There’s no other possible solution. There’s no middle ground. Qaddafi’s a snake who will come back to bite us later, if we don’t get him now. He must go and we—America’s war-weary men and women—have to be the ones who take him out.

Pat Buchanan—whose combat experience is limited to punching a policeman over a traffic ticket while the young conservative was in college—confidently said it would take two weeks—two weeks—and it would be over.  Then we can get the Saudi’s to fund the aftermath—whatever that is—and get the Egyptians to supply troops and on and on. 

Just like that, Pat says. 

George W. Bush famously said, “I don’t do nuance.”  Indeed. You see, as with all those who are gray-blind, their eyes will not permit them to see the nuances involved in dealing with the different players in the world and the various events that challenge us both to act and to refrain from acting, all in America’s interests. 

In Libya, wisdom seemed to indicate that we act, in Obama’s words, “to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger,” but an Iraq-like invasion “is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

In other words, Libya is a unique situation. We can and will do our part, but not the whole part. “Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake,” said the President.

Why is that so hard to understand?

The Obama Anti-Doctrine

“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries.  The United States of America is different.”

Barack Obama, Address to the Nation on Libya

Because I resent the often-superficial analyses that networks typically present after major presidential speeches, I here present a relatively lengthy review of President Obama’s outstanding speech on Libya, which couldn’t have been clearer on all of the outstanding issues, despite Republican criticisms to the contrary.  I hope interested and thoughtful readers will endure this analysis.

The first bit of clarity:

In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. 

That process took a mere 31 days, said the President, compared to the more than a year it took to protect civilians in Bosnia during the 1990s. And, he said,

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and—more profoundly—our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. 

The clarity, though, in Obama’s speech was not just in what the U.S. and its international partners have accomplished or in America’s embrace of people suffering under oppression, but in how future potential interventions will be managed in matters that involve limited U.S. interests intersecting with humanitarian concerns. 

It is in the expression of how Obama views these potential interventions which constitutes what I will call the Obama anti-Doctrine.

I call it anti-doctrine because typically one thinks of a doctrine as a dogmatic set of beliefs that apply in all reference frames. Obama’s willingness to project American power, however, is not so rigid that it applies in every conceivable situation, thus it can be fairly described as an anti-doctrine, which has the following three legs:

1. International cooperation

2. Limited engagement

3. Pragmatic use of American power

Obama expressed all three legs of this anti-doctrine in this one paragraph from tonight’s speech:

It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs.  And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action.  But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.  In this particular country —Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale.  We had a unique ability to stop that violence:  an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves.  We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

1. International cooperation: “an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves

2. Limited engagement:  “We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground. “

3. Pragmatic use of American power: “America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs.  And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action.”

There you have it.  As much as it may vex those who demand a one-size-fits-all foreign policy, Obama announced a set of principles that are flexible enough to both allow action in Libya and restraint in Yemen and other places. In short, a brilliant formulation of the practical rules that should govern the use of American power in gray situations that don’t directly involve our vital, black-and-white national interests, situations that materialize all too frequently these days.

Obama expressed in full his vision of the difference between our vital national interests and interests that don’t directly affect our national survival:

As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe.  And no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform.  I’ve made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests.  That’s why we’re going after al Qaeda wherever they seek a foothold.  That is why we continue to fight in Afghanistan, even as we have ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops from that country. 

There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are.  Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security — responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce.  These may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us.  They’re problems worth solving.  And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.

In such cases, we should not be afraid to act — but the burden of action should not be America’s alone.  As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action.  Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves.  Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all. 

As I listened to Republican criticisms of the speech (and some Democrats’), I was struck by the fact that many of them either didn’t pay attention to it or didn’t read it or only determined to hear what they wanted to hear. Many of them wonder what the end game is; they wonder about the fate of Qaddafi.  But Obama addressed that issue:

We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supplies of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Qaddafi leaves power.  It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Qaddafi tries desperately to hang on to power.  But it should be clear to those around Qaddafi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on Qaddafi’s side.  With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.

The burden is on the Libyan people, not the American people.  What could be clearer than that?

Finally, President Obama—try for just one second to imagine Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin or most of the other GOP putative candidates for president giving this speech—tried to set this Libyan conflict in a regional context:

Yes, this change will make the world more complicated for a time.  Progress will be uneven, and change will come differently to different countries.  There are places, like Egypt, where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes.  And then there will be places, like Iran, where change is fiercely suppressed.  The dark forces of civil conflict and sectarian war will have to be averted, and difficult political and economic concerns will have to be addressed. 

The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change.  Only the people of the region can do that. But we can make a difference. 

A difference, indeed.

Murderous American Soldiers: Reason To Quit?

WARNING: The following post contains a disturbing photograph.

Syndicated columnist Dan Thomasson wrote in Sunday’s Joplin Globe that it is time to get out of Afghanistan. 

He makes the point that historically speaking the mission is hopeless. He touches on the cost. He mentions that, until the unwise Iraq invasion, early in the Afghanistan war there was a narrow window to get bin Laden and accomplish a “limited engagement there.”  But the time has long passed.

Notwithstanding those legitimate points, Thomasson’s biggest reason to get out seems to be the indisputable fact that the war is not popular with the American people.  He cited that fact twice.

Now, if the war in Afghanistan-Pakistan is strategically important and crucial to our national defense, then it follows that it shouldn’t matter much what the American people think, nor should cost play a major role in deciding to continue.  A leader leads on such matters. 

So, I don’t think the fact that the war has grown unpopular or that our finances are hurting should have an effect on our leaders’ decision to continue the war policy, if it can be demonstrated that the war is vital to our interests.

The question, as always, is how strategically necessary is the war and can we accomplish our goals there?

I submit that a Rolling Stone article published yesterday tells us more about why we may need to get out of Afghanistan than any poll or balance sheet.  The article, “The Kill Team,” featured this subtitle:

How U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan murdered innocent civilians and mutilated their corpses – and how their officers failed to stop them.

You can read the horrific details for yourself and look at the disgusting pictures, but the article begins with introducing us to the unbelievable story of American infantrymen in Kandahar Province discussing among themselves “the notion of killing an Afghan civilian,” essentially for the hell of it:

The poppy plants were still low to the ground at that time of year. The two soldiers, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes, saw a young farmer who was working by himself among the spiky shoots. Off in the distance, a few other soldiers stood sentry. But the farmer was the only Afghan in sight. With no one around to witness, the timing was right. And just like that, they picked him for execution.

That young farmer was a 15-year-old kid.  Cpl. Morlock admitted the boy was “not a threat.” The boy, Gul Mudin, followed the soldiers’ instructions. Then,

The soldiers knelt down behind a mud-brick wall. Then Morlock tossed a grenade toward Mudin, using the wall as cover. As the grenade exploded, he and Holmes opened fire, shooting the boy repeatedly at close range with an M4 carbine and a machine gun.

Mudin buckled, went down face first onto the ground. His cap toppled off. A pool of blood congealed by his head.

The top officer present, Capt. Patrick Mitchell, didn’t buy the soldiers’ story that the boy was about to attack them with a grenade, but instead of offering to help the kid, “whom he believed might still be alive,” he instead ordered another soldier to make sure he was dead.  He fired two more shots into his body.

A “local elder,” working in the poppy field, witnessed the murder and immediately accused Morlock and Holmes. They ignored him.  It turned out the elder was the father of the murdered boy.

After every battlefield death, the story continues, there is a routine Army procedure involving stripping the corpse and checking for tatoos that might identify him.  They “scanned his iris and fingerprints.”  The horror continues:

Then, in a break with protocol, the soldiers began taking photographs of themselves celebrating their kill. Holding a cigarette rakishly in one hand, Holmes posed for the camera with Mudin’s bloody and half-naked corpse, grabbing the boy’s head by the hair as if it were a trophy deer. Morlock made sure to get a similar memento.

No one seemed more pleased by the kill than Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, the platoon’s popular and hard-charging squad leader. “It was like another day at the office for him,” one soldier recalls. Gibbs started “messing around with the kid,” moving his arms and mouth and “acting like the kid was talking.” Then, using a pair of razor-sharp medic’s shears, he reportedly sliced off the dead boy’s pinky finger and gave it to Holmes, as a trophy for killing his first Afghan.

According to his fellow soldiers, Holmes took to carrying the finger with him in a zip-lock bag. “He wanted to keep the finger forever and wanted to dry it out,” one of his friends would later report. “He was proud of his finger.”

Failing to be punished for that killing, “the platoon went on a shooting spree over the next four months that claimed the lives of at least three more innocent civilians.”

The story doesn’t end there, including the sad fact that it appears “senior Army leadership” was aware of “the questionable nature of the killings,” but you get the idea.

I recommend you read the rest of the article on an empty stomach.

Something is wrong people.  Something is very wrong.  Is it any wonder that we seem to be making more enemies than friends in Afghanistan-Pakistan? 

Given that, how can we continue?

“Hogs Stink,” But GOP Lawmakers Say, So What?

Over a year ago, a Joplin Globe editorial expressed this misguided opinion on Missouri’s very liberal campaign finance system:

We continue to support unlimited individual contributions to political parties and candidates.

In that editorial, the paper indicated that,

the public and we, the media, should carefully monitor any politician’s position and watch for changes in such positions based on financial incentives. If there is reasonable evidence to suggest vote “buying” in any form, it should be made public.

While I think it is scandalous that our state allows politicians to receive unlimited campaign donations—Missouri voters approved limits in 1994, which Republican legislators overturned in 2008—I do believe it is essential that journalists hold politicians accountable for a connection between legislation they advance and support and campaign donations they receive.

On Sunday, the Globe did that on the issue of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.  Some people estimate there are around 450 CAFOs in our state, while the EPA lists “large” CAFOs in Missouri at 214.  These operations house mostly chickens, turkeys, and hogs, and as Ken Midkiff, chairman of the Missouri Clean Water Campaign points out,

Hogs stink…and 100,000…hogs stink a lot.

Two Missouri Republicans are pushing a bill that would restrict the rights of small farmers and others who seek compensation in state courts for damages—from reduced property value because of the overwhelming smell and contaminated wells and ponds, for instance, as well as a diminution in their quality of life—caused by the CAFOs. 

As to what motivates those two GOP lawmakers to essentially restrict the rights of those who happen to live near a CAFO, the Globe writes:

both legislators represent districts in northwest Missouri where hog CAFOs are operated by Smithfield Foods or its subsidiary, Premium Standard Farms. They also have received thousands of dollars each in campaign contributions from Smithfield Foods in advance of the 2010 elections, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Midkiff writes of the corporative motive of the two legislators, Rep. Casey Guernsey and Sen. Brad Lager, this way:

…Lager and Guernsey insist that their bills are going to help farmers. This is patent nonsense. Their bills have been introduced and are being pushed as a return on investment by PSF/Smithfield.

It’s exactly that expectation of a “return on investment” that troubles those of us who, unlike the Globe, think that waving unlimited amounts of money in front of politicians—of both parties—can produce no other expectation.

It’s The Economy, Stupid Social Conservatives!

Haley Barbour, the fundraising-fiend and putative GOP candidate for president, on Saturday gently urged social conservatives not to ruin his chances of becoming president by all that God and abortion and gay talk.

Barbour, who speaks both formal and colloquial Redneck (if you can’t tell the difference, then you’re part of what’s wrong with America), was speaking at religious zealot and congressman Steve King’s Conservative Principles PAC Conference, and said:

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is economic growth and job creation for our people.

In other words, it’s the economy, stupid.  Keep a lid on all that baby-killin’-Jesus-wasn’t-a-queer talk!  Because, he drawled,

We need to make sure that our children and grandchildren inherit the same country we inherited.

The “same country“?  Uh-oh.  This heavy-set Southern boss man from Yazoo City obviously believes that that exotic Negro from Chicago—via either Kenya or Hawaii—has come on the scene to change our way of life.

And if Republicans out there want to stop him, according to Barbour, they need to ease up on the social issues and hammer the economic ones.

Of course, Michele Bachmann, who also spoke at the event, was having none of that stuff:

Social conservatism is fiscal conservatism.

And Steve King himself had a correction for Barbour and others:

We need to work on the economic issues, yes we do. But if we let our society deconstruct, to the point where it’s Godless and faithless and valueless, and it’s every man and woman for himself, collecting the spoils from someone else’s labor, we’re just simply pitted against each other. We’re not a unified people anymore. It destroys us as a nation. I want to see a nation that is solidly bound together from a social construct.

It’s unclear how emphasizing abortion and homosexuality and evangelical religion will end in a “solidly bound together” nation, but I’m all for the social conservatives making their philosophy clear to the country.  Unlike the last election, they need to make Americans aware next time that they plan to do more than ruin the economy again. They intend on establishing what may look like a Christian caliphate, even as they drag us forward into the 18th century.

Barbour, who above all is a political guy—he worked for Ronald Reagan as his political director, worked as a lobbyist, served as chairman of the RNC, and is now the chairman of Republican Governors Association—understands that in a national presidential election, emphasizing the issues that automatically divide Americans is not a winning strategy because independent voters tend not to give a Mississippi catfish about those things, which is part of what makes them independent.

Of course, for Barbour’s strategy to succeed, the economy must continue to limp along.  And Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to make sure that happens. 

As Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told us not long ago, his first job is to make sure Obama has no second term.  So, shut up! all you social conservatives and let him do his job.

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