Sabotage, Limbaugh-Republican Style

Many times I have used the word “sabotage” to describe what Republicans have done to the country, both in terms of politics and in terms of policies that could, with even a little cooperation, improve the lives of so many Americans.

Now there is an article that details that “calculated sabotage by Republicans,” written by reporter Todd Purdum of Politico. Titled, “The Obamacare sabotage campaign,” the article tells us things we already knew:

From the moment the bill was introduced, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress announced their intention to kill it…

The opposition was strategic from the start: Derail President Barack Obama’s biggest ambition, and derail Obama himself. Party leaders enforced discipline, withholding any support for the new law — which passed with only Democratic votes, thus undermining its acceptance.

quote boxBut besides reminding us of the intentions of Republicans, the Politico article does an excellent job of presenting the comprehensiveness of the effort to destroy the President and his health reform law. Not only did congressional Republicans attempt to sabotage ObamaCaare both before its passage and after, but “Republican troops pressed this cause all the way to the Supreme Court,” and “Republican governors declined to create their own state insurance exchanges” and “refused to do anything at all to educate the public about the law.”

Republicans, by their resistance, increased the burden on the federal government, forcing it to create many more exchanges than it had expected and forcing it “to do all that extra work” without the “dedicated funds” necessary. On top of all that:

The drama culminated on the eve of the open enrollment date of Oct. 1. Congressional Republicans shut down the government, disrupting last-minute planning and limiting the administration’s political ability to prepare the public for the likelihood of potential problems, because it was in a last-ditch fight to defend the president’s biggest legislative accomplishment.

All of this was no accident. It was “the explicit aim of the law’s opponents.” And they’re not finished. Conservatives are still attacking the law in the courts, Darrell Issa and other lawmakers are still making mischief in the House, and right-wing groupthink tanks are hard at work, including the Cato Institute, which “has drawn up an action plan on how to keep fighting the law in the states.” Some Republican representatives, like Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, have refused to give his constituents assistance when it comes to signing up for ObamaCare.

Perhaps most appalling of all is the subversive advice coming from the radiohead of the Republican Party:

…just last week, Rush Limbaugh advised his listeners that they could avoid penalties for failing to buy mandated insurance by arranging to avoid federal income tax refunds, since the IRS can only levy fines by withholding refunds, not by liens or criminal sanctions.

Yes, that paragon of conservative virtue, the man who represents the law-and-order party, the man who regularly charges the President with lawbreaking, is actually not only encouraging folks to break the law, he’s telling them how to do it and get away it.

PhotoOf course, I suppose it’s only natural for such a man. A man who once said that “if people are violating the law by doing drugs…ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up,” and then years after saying that, after giving his aggressive approval of the mostly misguided war on drugs, we found out his housekeeper and her husband were supplying him with powerful narcotics and that he had been obtaining painkillers from several doctors, none of whom knew how extensive was his abuse.

So, I suppose Limbaugh knows a lot about lawbreaking, and since he did no jail time for his drug-related actions, I suppose he knows how to get away with it, too.

More Bad News From The Front Lines Of The War On Drugs

Ryan Grim at HuffPo reports:

Utah police shot and killed a man within seconds of storming his parents’ home, video of the raid shows. The police had a warrant to search for drugs, but found only a small amount of pot and an empty vial that had apparently contained meth.

The man, Todd Blair, was 45 years old. According to the story, friends and family of Blair claimed he was not a drug dealer but a drug addict.

The article makes a point all of us need to think about:

Blair’s death raises the question of why multiple heavily-armed officers were sent to raid a drug addict — and why Weber and Morgan counties in Utah would even need a “Narcotics Strike Force.” Local police forces are able to keep to property they seize in drug raids, often without the necessity of a conviction, creating a perverse incentive to reinvest in military equipment and carry out additional raids.

Perverse incentive, indeed.

Here is how the story describes the disturbing video posted below:

Blair can be seen holding a golf club above his head as police smash through his door. Within seconds, without demanding Blair drop the iron or lay down, Weber-Morgan Strike Force Sgt. Troy Burnett fires three shots into him.

I warn you before you watch the video, that although it is short, it is graphic.  But I believe we have to think about what we are doing, as we continue to pursue to the death our war on drugs:

What’s The Matter With Mexico?

More than 3,000 people have been murdered this year in Juarez, Mexico, which has six border crossings into the United States and is just an hour south of Las Cruces, New Mexico.  According to some estimates, 1.3 million folks live in Juarez.  That’s about the same number who live in Dallas.  There have been 93 murders in Dallas so far this year.

Last year, more than 2,600 were killed in Juarez. Relying on AP records, Olivia Torres writes that despite the fact that so many were murdered in 2009, Mexican prosecutors filed a mere 93 homicide cases and got 19 convictions.

Needless to say, Juarez, Mexico is a mess.  Perhaps most of Mexico is a mess. Since 2006, there have been more than 30,000 drug-war deaths there.

Torres opens her story with this:

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Gunmen killed a mother who had been protesting for three days in front of a governor’s office in northern Mexico to demand justice for her slain daughter, authorities said Friday…

The vicious nature of the killing – which was caught on a security camera and broadcast repeatedly on national television – added to the anger. The video shows masked men pull up in a car Thursday night in front of the governor’s office in Chihuahua city, the capital of Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located.

One man appeared to exchange words with Escobedo Ortiz, who tried to flee by running across the street. The gunman chased her down and shot her in the head, said Jorge Gonzalez, special state prosecutor for crime prevention.

You have to read the entire sad story to get just how strange is the system of justice—if you call it that—in this part of Mexico. 

I read the stories about the violence and the murders and the drugs and the dysfunction and I wonder:  Is our War on Drugs at least partly responsible for what’s happening to our southern neighbors?  Is our demand for drugs responsible? Is it our exporting guns to the drug dealers that is the problem? Or is that country just hopelessly corrupt?

I don’t know.  I have heard those who love Mexico say that we are getting the wrong picture of that wonderful country on our nightly news.  Again, I don’t know.

I only know that if I were a Mexican living anywhere near the border of the United States, I would be sitting up day and night trying to figure out how to get my family the hell out of Mexico.

Even if it pisses off the Tea Party.

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?

 

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