Betraying America Versus The Agenda

Several hours ago, Tr-mp, who is destroying American credibility in the world faster than even I imagined he could, tweeted the following:

Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.

Obviously, Tr-mp is obsessed with the Russia scandal he and his cronies and his relatives are trapped in. But his obsession is not shared by all Republicans. In fact, it doesn’t appear to me that Republicans really give a damn about it. There are a few here and there who express some concern, but mostly the Republican attitude is what I heard this morning from the lips of a Republican strategist named Jason Osborne, who worked for both Ben Carson and Tr-mp. He said, “The Russia investigation is all a bunch of noise,” with the purpose of disrupting the Republican agenda in Congress. “There’s no story here, as far as I can tell,” Osborne said, “Nobody has said anything that there’s illegalities that have been committed.”

Well, since I’ve grown tired of saying it myself (7/27/2016, anyone?), I’ll allow David Corn, of Mother Jones, to say it: “We Already Know Tr-mp Betrayed America.” That piece details all the reasons why it doesn’t matter, in terms of what Americans should think about what happened, whether “explicit collusion” or Osborne’s “illegalities” are ever found in any of the Tr-mp-Russia investigations. As Corn says:

Tr-mp actively and enthusiastically aided and abetted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plot against America. This is the scandal. It already exists—in plain sight.

You hear a lot of chatter on television about how much “smoke” there is around this whole Tr-mp-Russia thing, but it ain’t just smoke. Corn ends his piece with this:

This country needs a thorough and public investigation to sort out how the Russian operation worked, how US intelligence and the Obama administration responded, and how Tr-mp and his associates interacted with Russia and WikiLeaks. But whatever happened out of public view, the existing record is already conclusively shameful. Tr-mp and his crew were active enablers of Putin’s operation to subvert an American election. That is fire, not smoke. That is scandal enough.

Well, that should be scandal enough. But with an ethically bankrupt Republican Party in charge of Congress, the fact that Tr-mp and his team enabled the Russian plot to undermine our election isn’t scandal enough. All that matters is The Agenda. That nasty, cruel, deadly, billionaire-friendly policy agenda slowly making its way through Congress. Enacting into law that legislative mix of malice and selfishness and ideological insanity is the reason why the immoral or amoral nature of leaders like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are on display for all to see, for all who want to see.

Just a while ago, Tr-mp, knowing how much The Agenda means to the twisted ideologues in the Republican Party, tweeted out the following:

The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt!

“TAX CUTS.” Tr-mp, being an unprincipled person himself, understands enough about his fellow unprincipled Republicans in Congress to shout TAX CUTS to them. That’s the Image result for tax cutsgravy. Tr-mp knows that’s what Republicans believe is worth selling their thin souls for. TAX CUTS for their wealthy friends, their wealthy donors, the people they admire most in the world.

Tr-mp reveals a lot about himself in his tweets. And in this one, shouting TAX CUTS, he reveals what he knows about Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and most of the rest of the Republican Party: there is nothing more important to them than TAX CUTS. Not the Constitution. Not America’s standing in the world. Not Tr-mp and his family enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of us. And certainly not Tr-mp’s open betrayal of America by his official or unofficial collusion with Vladmir Putin and his Russian friends. Nothing.

Nothing but TAX CUTS.

“Epistemological Murk”

Epistemology is the study of knowledge: what we know, how we know it, how we know we know it, and how to keep track of it without driving ourselves crazy.”

Vocabulary.com

since there is a lot of moonshine, much of it toxic, being produced by the Tr-mp regime and its supporters in Congress and on cable news, let’s distill a simple truth from the cloudburst of orange urine—the lies, outrages, and absurdities—that has soaked our already piss-saturated political landscape since January 20: Republican leaders are pretending Donald Tr-mp isn’t mentally ill because they want to cut taxes for the wealthy, weaken or eliminate programs for the poor and working-class, and make it harder for people who oppose that reactionary agenda to vote against it.

Sadly, after a sober distillation of the uncomfortable facts, that simple truth is what is left, the essence of what is going on. After Tr-mp’s Electoral College-only victory in November, Speaker Paul Ryan falsely claimed Tr-mp “just earned a mandate.” But Ryan’s imaginary mandate for Trmp is very real for Paul Ryan. He sees the opportunity to get done what Image result for trump discusses north korean missile at mar a lagoonly seemed like a Randian dream before. And that’s why there is a very strange tolerance for very strange behavior, like when Tr-mp scandalously equated a murderous Vladimir Putin with past American leadership, or when he, on Saturday, discussed with dinner guests—in public at Mar-a-Lago—the launch of a North Korean missile. If any Democrat had said or done anything like that, Washington would still be on fire with conservative rage.

Republicans, as I have said many times, are the only ones who can put a stop to the madness we have seen and are seeing—including Tr-mp’s solicitation and toleration of Russian interference in our election and what may be, as the Flynn controversy demonstrates, a plan for compensation to the Russians for helping elect Tr-mp. But GOP leaders have their partisan and ideological priorities, which clearly don’t include protecting the integrity of any of the nation’s institutions from a sick, shady man who most of them know is a sick, shady man with a lot of not-so-sick but oh-so-shady men and women around him.

Image result for ted lieu on joy reidSince I have written about the issue for months now, I was glad that on Sunday, three different times, the issue of Tr-mp’s mental health came up, in a serious way, on television. On MSNBC, Congressman Ted Lieu, of California, brought up Dr. John Gartner, a psychotherapist formerly affiliated with Johns Hopkins University Medical School. Dr. Gartner, who specializes in certain personality disorders, said recently:

“Donald Tr-mp is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president,” says Gartner, author of “In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography.” Tr-mp, Gartner says, has “malignant narcissism,” which is different from narcissistic personality disorder and which is incurable.

Congressman Lieu, after quoting Dr. Gartner, properly asked, “What do I do with that as a member of Congress? Do I ignore that? Or do I raise the issue?” Well, Lieu isn’t ignoring the issue. He is filing a bill that would require a shrink in the White’s House. About Tr-mp Lieu said,

His disconnection from the truth is incredibly disturbing. When you add on top of that his stifling of dissent, his attacks on the free press and his attacks on the legitimacy of judiciary, that then takes us down the road toward authoritarianism. That’s why I’ve concluded he is a danger to the republic.

On another Sunday program, NBC’s Meet The Press, Senator Bernie Sanders chimed in about Tr-mp’s behavior, saying to Chuck Todd, “right now we are in a pivotal moment in American history. We have a president [sic] who is delusional in many respects, a pathological liar.” Todd asked Sanders, “Can you work with a pathological liar?” Sanders said,

Well, it makes life very difficult, not just for me. And I don’t mean, you know, I know it sounds, it is very harsh. But I think that’s the truth. When somebody goes before you and the American people, say, “Three to five million people voted illegally in the last election,” nobody believes that. There is not the scintilla of evidence. What would you call that remark? It’s a lie. It’s a delusion.

Just one of many lies. One of many delusions.

On CNN’s Sunday program, Jake Tapper asked Senator Al Franken about his prior remarks on Bill Maher’s show during which Franken claimed that in private some Republican senators have “great concern about the president’s [sic] temperament.” Here’s how that went:

TAPPER: So, I know that was comedy, but is it true that Republican colleagues of your express concern about President Tr-mp’s mental health?

FRANKEN: A few.

Image result for al franken on cnnTAPPER: Really?

FRANKEN: Yes. It’s not the majority of them. It’s a few.

TAPPER: In what way?

FRANKEN: In the way that we all have this suspicion that—you know, that he’s not—he lies a lot. He says thing that aren’t true. That’s the same as lying, I guess. He—you know, three million to five million people voted illegally. There was a new one about people going in from Massachusetts to New Hampshire.

TAPPER: Thousands and thousands in a bus, yes.

FRANKEN: Yes. And, you know, that is not the norm for a president of the United States, or, actually, for a human being.

Senator Franken, my early choice for president in 2020, also said to Tapper:

I think that Tr-mp and his group are trying to make Americans more afraid. I think that’s part of how they got elected: Just make us more afraid.

Of course that is true, absolutely true. That’s why Tr-mp described, and still describes, America so darkly. But what is also true, and perhaps more important in the long run, is that Tr-mp makes Republicans in Congress more afraid, afraid they are just a Tr-mp tweet away from being primaried in two years. And that fear of losing their jobs, at least for those who see how mentally disturbed Tr-mp is, is enough to keep their thoughts about Tr-mp’s instability to themselves or limit their comments to whispers behind closed doors.

I have quoted three Democrats in Congress on the subject of Tr-mp’s mental health and have criticized Republicans for staying quiet about what is so obvious. Now, to finish up, I want to turn to a philosopher I respect very much. Daniel Dennett told The Guardian:

The real danger that’s facing us is we’ve lost respect for truth and facts. People have discovered that it’s much easier to destroy reputations for credibility than it is to maintain them. It doesn’t matter how good your facts are, somebody else can spread the rumour that you’re fake news. We’re entering a period of epistemological murk and uncertainty that we’ve not experienced since the Middle Ages.

I suppose only a philosopher thinks in terms of “epistemological murks,” but that is exactly where we are. In the Middle Ages, such murks were survivable. Here in the Nuclear Age, they may not be. Truth and sanity must prevail, but there is no guarantee it will. As Dennett said, reputations for credibility have to be maintained. Right now they are under siege nearly everywhere we look. But Dennett has hope:

I’m an eternal optimist. Every Republican senator has an opportunity to grow a spine and stand up for truth and justice and the rule of law. My other hope is that if Trump has to choose between being president and being a billionaire, I think he may just resign.

I’ll leave it to the reader to calculate the odds of either one of those two hopes becoming reality. But I’d bet a tax cut for the rich that the odds are long.

“Where’s The [Expletive Deleted] Growth”?

And I thought it was my little secret:

The most important paragraph in the whole wonderful piece was this one:

The GOP campaign to aid the wealthy has left America unable to raise the money needed to pay its bills. “The Republican Party went on a tax-cutting rampage and a spending spree,” says Rhode Island governor and former GOP senator Lincoln Chafee, pointing to two deficit-financed wars and an unpaid-for prescription-drug entitlement. “It tanked the economy.” Tax receipts as a percent of the total economy have fallen to levels not seen since before the Korean War – nearly 20 percent below the historical average. “Taxes are ridiculously low!” says Bruce Bartlett, an architect of Reagan’s 1981 tax cut. “And yet the mantra of the Republican Party is ‘Tax cuts raise growth.’ So – where’s the [bleeping] growth?

And Americans may put those guys back in charge?

Yep.

“You’re Fired!” Says Wealthy Job Creators

Rachel Maddow pointed out something last night about the Koch Brothers that bears repeating.

She noted that they have now amassed a combined fortune of about $50 billion, and that all of the profits made by Koch Industries are private profits, since the company has never gone public.

But the most important point she made is related to the Republican argument that the so-called job creators will create more jobs if they are allowed to accumulate more and more wealth. Thus, we have the anti-tax argument made by nearly every Republican in the country, from the lowliest local officeholder to the Senate Minority Leader.

I reproduced the graph she used on her show:As you can see, the richer the Kochs got, the more folks they fired.

Hmm.

Don’t Let ’em Forget

As I have argued since the beginning of this blog, the cut-taxes-and-grow nonsense told by conservatives armed with laissez-faire logic has no support in the laboratory that has been our national experience since the end of WWII.

The most recent evidence, of course, happened during the Bush II years, when marginal tax rates were irresponsibly cut and job growth turned out to be nonexistent, a sad fact we should all be acquainted with now, since unemployment remains stubbornly high. 

Beginning early in 2008 and up until Bush left office in January of 2009, the economy lost 4.5 million jobs.  In the months following the inauguration of Mr. Obama, jobs continued to hemorrhage—credit them also to the Great Bush Recession—and the total job loss climbed to around 9 million.  Here’s the famous graph again that chronicles the damage: 

Bush and Republicans cut the rates that had been raised as a result of the 1993 Deficit Reduction Act under Bill Clinton and the Democrats, possibly the last piece of responsible tax legislation that will ever pass in my lifetime.  Those “high” and “punishing” rates on “job creators“—which Republicans at the time predicted would stifle economic growth—managed to coexist with an economy that created somewhere around 22 million jobs.

That is just recent history.  The Center for American Progress (Rich People’s Taxes Have Little to Do with Job Creation“) put together a more comprehensive look at the relationship between the highest marginal tax rate and unemployment:

 

There are lots of factors that contribute to a thriving economy and certainly one of them is the tax system.  But given the history of the issue, conservatives should be called out every time they use their “we can’t raise taxes on the job creators” mantra. 

Enough is enough.

It Doesn’t “Almost Make Me Wonder”

I opened my Joplin Globe today and I found this headline on page 4B:

Poll: Economy weakens support for Obama

The AP story opened this way:

WASHINGTON   — Mired in economic worry, Americans are growing gloomier about where the country is headed and how President Barack Obama is leading it. Opinions of the economy are at the lowest of the year as high gas prices, anemic hiring and financial turmoil abroad shake a nation’s confidence.

Now, that story dovetailed nicely with what the top Democrats in the Senate did on Wednesday, which essentially was accuse Republicans of sabotaging the economic recovery in the name of politics.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin said:

Our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate are driven by putting one man out of work: President Obama.

Senator Chuck Schumer said:

It almost makes you wonder if they aren’t trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain.

Almost makes you wonder?

What the Dems are talking about is the failure of Republicans to support economic stimulus incentives that Republicans once enthusiastically supported, like, just as one example, the payroll tax cut for both employees and employers, tailor-made to jibe with Republican economic philosophy.  But Schumer says:

John Boehner called it a gimmick, Paul Ryan called it sugar high. Lamar Alexander and Jeb Hensarling both criticized it as short-term stimulus — apparently that’s a bad thing. Would Republicans really oppose a tax cut for business that created jobs? This is sort of beyond the pale. So if they’d oppose even something so suited to their tastes ideologically, it shows that they’re just opposing anything that would help create jobs.

You might think it is in bad taste for one party to accuse the other of such sabotage, so I will present to you one party accusing itself of, well, a kind of sabotage.  Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a fleeting moment of honesty, explained that recent Republican opposition to Obama’s Libya policy—remember, these are Republicans who have rarely, if ever, met a war they didn’t like, if not actually want to personally fight—is at least partly based on partisan considerations.

Via the Huffington Post, here is what McConnell said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor:

I’m not sure that these kinds of differences might not have been there in a more latent form when you had a Republican president, but I do think there is more of a tendency to pull together when the guy in the White House is on your side. 

So I think some of these views were probably held by some of my members even in the previous administration, but party loyalty tended to kind of mute them. … I think a lot of our members, not having a Republican in the White House, feel more free to kind of express their reservations, which might have been somewhat muted during the previous administration.

So, McConnell is saying that Republicans, whose first loyalty is apparently to their party, will tend to support their own president on war matters—even if they have “reservations”— but they feel free to thwart President Obama because he is of the other party.

Hmm.

Let’s go back to Chuck Schumer’s comment about Republicans one more time:

It almost makes you wonder if they aren’t trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain.

Nope. It doesn’t almost make me wonder at all. 

_______________________

Here is the press conference on job creation by Senate Democrats in which some of them wonder out loud about Republican motives:

 

Here is McConnell’s statement:

Why Obama Is Not A Lefty

I expect right-wing media in this country to say ridiculous things about Barack Obama, like, say, he is a communist, a socialist, or just an average leftist who is way out of touch with “mainstream” America.  On the adult-less right, anyone slightly left of Rush Limbaugh is a muddle-headed moderate, a leftist sympathizer, or worse.

But one even hears such talk among those who are not committed reactionaries.  On Morning Joe, for instance, it is a given among many of the regular guests that Obama has governed from the far left and voters smacked him down this November for doing so.

Uh, well, no.  He has not only not governed from the far left, a good case can be made that he has, in so many ways, governed from either the center-right, or, sad to say, the right-right.

Here are some examples of Obama’s often-conservative governance:

Health Insurance Reform

Obama’s signature accomplishment to date is health insurance reform, the Affordable Care Act.  He is proud of that achievement, as all Democrats should be, since it cost them a lot to get it passed.  And Republicans say they are committed to repealing it and replacing it with God only knows what.  In fact, tea partiers absolutely hate it and give it as an example of Obama’s fondness for socialism.

Except that it’s not. It’s not even close.

I heard today that the health insurance companies, normally fond of Republican enthusiasm for exclusively protecting corporate interests, are lining up to urge Republicans to slow down in their efforts to repeal health insurance reform.  From NPR:

“No one has said what this bill would be replaced with,” said Richard Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “But doing away with this would certainly be the wrong thing. … People have been gearing up for some time, well before this actual bill got passed, to make these changes locally, and have invested a lot.”

The truth is that the Affordable Care Act may have helped save the private insurance company from the profit-killing effects of a growing number of uninsured Americans.  According to Jonathan Oberlander at the University of North Carolina:

“Usually we think of the health industry as being in alliance with Republicans and opposing more government intervention in the health care system,” Oberlander says. But you have to ask why did the industry support the health reform law in the first place?”

He says the reason is that the more people there were without health insurance, the more that threatened the industry financially. In other words, its entire business model was about to fall apart.

So, we can conclude that the new health care law, with its insurance mandate that will drive many new customers into the arms of the private insurance industry, is far from being a left-wing dream.  And besides all that, the basic structure of the Affordable Care Act is very similar to what Republican Mitt Romney approved of when he was governor of Massachusetts.  In fact, it is more conservative than RomneyCare, as Jonathan Chait points out.

And largely forgotten is the health care overhaul legislation offered by Republicans in 1993 in response to Clinton’s attempt to reform the system.  It has striking similarities to what eventually passed this year.  For a comparison, go here and look for yourself.

There’s simply no way the new health insurance reform law can be interpreted as a move to the far left.  Sorry.  But, then, I don’t expect members of the media, especially on sound bite political shows, to mention that very often.

The War in Afghanistan

Obama has tripled the number of troops in Afghanistan and has exponentially increased the number of drone strikes in Pakistan.  He has, essentially one-upped the Bush administration, so much so, that as Politico points out, Mr. Bush had good things to say about Obama’s strategy:

“I strongly believe the mission is worth the cost,” Bush wrote in “Decision Points,” which comes out Tuesday. “Fortunately, I am not the only one.”

He expresses gratitude that Obama “stood up to critics by deploying more troops, announcing a new commitment to counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, and increasing the pressure on Pakistan to fight the extremists in the tribal areas.”

Again, sorry pundits.  Obama’s war policy is Dick Cheney on steroids.

Financial Reform

Other than health care reform, there isn’t anything the left-wing of the Democratic Party has been more upset about than the financial reform legislation passed this year.  The left claims the law won’t do much to stop the practice of using “too big to fail” as an excuse for bailing out Wall Street gamblers.  In this, they have common agreement with many tea partiers. 

Even an admittedly liberal bright spot in the reform law—the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—has received criticism because President Obama refused to fight to install Elizabeth Warren—a hero on the left—as its head.  They fear that without her in charge, the “Banksters” will have their way with Obama’s rather conservative Treasury Department.

So, even financial reform turns out to be a frustratingly moderate approach to reigning in an out-of-control financial industry.

The Stimulus Plan and Lower Taxes

The New York Times reported recently:

In a New York Times/CBS News Poll last month, fewer than one in 10 respondents knew that the Obama administration had lowered taxes for most Americans. Half of those polled said they thought that their taxes had stayed the same, a third thought that their taxes had gone up, and about a tenth said they did not know. As Thom Tillis, a Republican state representative, put it as the dinner wound down here, “This was the tax cut that fell in the woods — nobody heard it.”

The tax cut nobody heard of was in the Recovery Act stimulus plan passed by—and only by—Democrats.  It was a $787 billion bill (CBO now estimates it will cost $814 billion). Of that total some $275 billion (now projected at $290 billion) was for tax cuts for 95% of Americans. Get that?  Tax cuts.  For cutting taxes. You know, those things Republicans believe are major stimulants of economic growth, at least when Republican propose them.  When Democrats propose them, they somehow fail to stimulate growth, but that’s another subject.

Tax cuts comprised about 36% of the Recovery Act stimulus plan and it received ZERO Republican votes.

Now, it is widely known that President Obama and the Democrats took the approach of including such massive tax cuts in the stimulus bill—despite there being arguably better ways to spend the money—in order to get bipartisan support.  In other words, they made the bill much more conservative—and thus less effective—than it needed to be, since Republicans didn’t support it anyway.  Most people on the left believe the bill was too small and wrongly designed to appeal to Obama-must-fail Republicans. 

So, we can conclude that much of the stimulus package represented essentially Republican tax-cutting ideas, hardly part of any leftist agenda I’ve ever heard of.

The GM Revival

Remember last year when the right-wing told us that Obama was fulfilling his desire to socialize America by stepping in to save General Motors?  Never mind that the GM bailout begun under Bush.  And never mind that Congressional Republicans had no problems bailing out bankers.  It was just union workers they had a problem helping.  As John McCain said, the GM-Chrysler bailout, “was all about the unions.”  Except that the unions were forced to sacrifice, too. 

And in the end, yesterday’s IPO, the second largest in history, saw Obama’s socialist stake in GM drop from 61% to around 33%.  Damn! I bet he’s pissed about that:

We are finally beginning to see some of these tough decisions that we made in the midst of crisis begin to pay off.

Okay, so he’s not pissed.  Why not?  Why isn’t he furious that he doesn’t actually control GM anymore?  Because he’s not a bleeping socialist, that’s why.

Anyway, leave it to the Wall Street Journal to put in perspective the GM comeback and the government’s role in it:

The most important step may have been the government’s efforts to stock GM with a new management team, to shake up its corporate culture and refocus the company on making money.

Making money?  Obama wanted GM to make money?  Huh?  What kind of left-winger is he?

Small Business Tax Relief

Including the Recovery Act, Obama has cut taxes on small businesses eight (8!) times since he sat his socialist keister in the Oval Office.  Additionally, eight (8!) more small business tax cuts have been stalled in the Senate because of Obama-must-fail Republican recalcitrance.

The Employee Free Choice Act

Despite widespread fear among the business class, Obama hasn’t done one damn thing to get the EFCA passed. It’s hard to remember now, but when Obama-the Communist assumed office, the EFCA was the Holy Grail for organized labor. So much for Obama’s radical agenda for unions, which, the right told us, would destroy America.

Budget Deficits and Debt

Who was it that appointed the deficit reduction commission?  Oh, yeah.  It was that radical spender, Barack Obama.  And he will have to answer for it, as Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson make the rounds and explain to us that although the wealthy made off with billions and billions at Wall Street casinos, and although the financial system had to be bailed out by taxpayers, the pain of budget cuts will fall on average Americans, who will have to work harder and longer for less.  Rah, rah, Comrade Obama!

Free Trade

Despite resistance from the left, particularly unions, Obama is pursuing free trade policies and trade agreements with trading cheaters all over the globe.  

War On Drugs

California had on its ballot this November an initiative that would have legalized marijuana. Surely, every leftist in America, and most libertarians, favored the measure. Yet, the Obama Justice Department made it clear that it opposed Proposition 19 and that it would “vigorously enforce” all federal laws related to dope smoking, no matter the outcome.  No one can possibly argue that a McCain-Palin administration would have acted differently.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Despite favoring repeal of the military’s ban on openly homosexual service, President Obama had a chance to end the policy by simply refusing to appeal a federal judge’s decision last month that prohibited the government from enforcing or applying the ban.  Of course, it turns out that the administration did appeal the decision, thus irking homosexual activists everywhere. 

Why would he do that?  Because he takes his job as head of the executive branch seriously.  And the executive branch is charged with enforcing the law, whether the president likes it or not. That, my friends, is conservative governance.

Guantanamo Bay

It’s still open.  Any questions?

 

The Magic Kingdom Of Conservatism

You’re sailing softly through the sun in a broken Stone Age dawn. You fly so high, I get a strange magic.

Oh, what a strange magic.

—Jeff Lynne, Electric Light Orchestra

Bill Maher made an interesting observation about the difference between conservatives here in America and those across the Atlantic in the land of our Founder’s fathers:

…they just had an election two weeks ago and, power changed hands — but the party that lost is working WITH the part that won — they are not accusing them of being Bolshevik Zulus out to destroy the Magna Carta. Because the English are grown ups, including their conservatives who enjoy a wonderful luxury that conservatives on this side of the pond do not. They’re allowed to be sane. They don’t have to pander to creationists and anti-intellectuals. Only in this dumb country do liberals and conservatives argue over things like “evolution” and “climate change” and whether “sick people should be left to die in the street.”

Maher also pointed out that conservatives in America “tend to believe in magical ideas“:

America is never wrong; you can defeat terrorism militarily; and lower taxes will somehow fix the deficit. And I’m not even mentioning the stuff about how Jesus used to fly around on a pterodactyl and just hated it when homos ate wedding cake.

Now, no matter what you think about Maher’s brand of humor, there is something odd about the current iteration of conservative philosophy, as expressed by right-wing media and echoed by Republican politicians all across the country.

It does sort of have a strange magical quality to it. 

We can wave our tax-cutting wand, and jobs will come back, the deficit will diminish, and our debt will soon disappear.  

We can talk mean and nasty to the rest of the world, and then we can pull a rabbit of peace out of a hat.

We can build a magic wall, and our immigration problems will vanish.

We can elect Tea Party sorcerers to the Congress, and they will restore Lady Liberty—who Obama has cut in half—to her original state.

Oh, what a strange magic.

Here’s What’s Wrong With The Tea Party

Stuart Whatley has nailed it.

In a piece titled, “The Tea Party Movement Is a National Embarrassment,” he puts the teabagging phenomenon in its proper context. Outlining what he called the “history of successful social and political movements” in the United States, including the civil rights movement and the feminist movement, Whatley said this: 

At its core, the Tea Party movement is rife with contradiction, incoherence and a willful contempt for facts or reason. It is but a parody of the legitimate movements for which American democracy has historically been held in such high regard. It is, in fact, the latest installment in quite another American tradition: the exploitation of frustrated, desperate, and susceptible people by monied interests and profiteers. 

The incoherence is partly demonstrated, he said, by teapartiers demanding tax cuts from a president (Obama) and a party (Democratic) that gave us at least “one of the biggest tax cuts ever.”  

The stimulus bill passed last year, which has caused such consternation among many misinformed folks and has revealed much Republican hypocrisy, contained a $282 billion cut in taxes, bigger than the first Bush tax cut in 2001 ($174 billion) and the second round of Bush tax cuts  in 2004 and 2005 ($231 billion) over the same two-year period.

To compound the incoherence, Whatley remarked, teabaggers demand tax cuts and deficit reduction simultaneously.  Not even the most zealous supply-siders in the Republican Party have a plan for making that a reality, nor do they even pretend they do, as far as I know.

Whatley also pointed out the fact that while the Tea Party movement claims to be a grassroots group, with “no defined leadership,” it does have “public figures and entities” who act as leaders. This situation, he continues,

has led to perhaps its greatest irony: a portion of the American populace who carries a populist banner against the coddling of greedy bankers is led by some of the country’s most cynical and base profiteers.

Those “cynical and base profiteers” include Dick Armey of Freedom Works and Fox “News” Channel, which has made a lot of money creating and promoting teabagger anxieties and then “covering” their “movement” as “news.”

Whatley discusses the authoritarian nature of the movement in its reliance on “emotion and instinct in decision-making,” its black and white worldview, its resentment of “confusion or ambiguity in the social order,” which explains the movement’s fear of “gays and immigrants,” who they believe are a threat to our social order.  He reminds us that Tom Tancredo’s bigoted speech at the Tea Party Convention last week was “well received.”

Whatley’s piece ended with a somewhat depressing observation, applicable to those around Southwest Missouri and beyond, who reflexively support the Tea Party movement but rely on “big government” for needed assistance:

While the Tea Party may alienate some who see it for the profit-machine that it is, others who share the fearful, intolerant authoritarian worldview that it is increasingly coalescing around will be lured in and pitted against the very people in power who could actually help them.

Sad, but true.

 

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