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Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

(In no particular order)

1. Tax cuts for the wealthy

2. Curtailment of female reproductive rights

3. Repeal of Health Care Reform and, ultimately, social safety nets

4. Privatization of everything (see above)

5. Crush unions

6. Start least one more war

7. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

8. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

9. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

10. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

11. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

12. Obama is an uppity —— who hates America

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Even at this early juncture, when polls are meaningless, most reasonable people would agree that the 2012 election is President Obama’s to lose. True, the unemployment rate remains dismal, but even so, the President’s approval numbers are hovering around 50 percent; he has enormous personal magnetism; he took out bin Laden; he saved the auto industry and brought us back from a possible Second Great Depression; enough people still blame George W. Bush for our continuing economic woes; and, conventional wisdom has established that the GOP wannabe field, at least as it stands now, is historically weak.

Indeed, POTUS’ best assets are his opponents, and the rogues gallery of Republican governors and legislators who are trampling civil rights in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Florida.

I’m not satisfied. I don’t trust the electorate, which in an uninformed, reactionary pique either stayed home in November 2010 or went out and voted in the grim slate of far-right Republicans now wreaking havoc at the state level, and at the national level­—in the House, at least—making sure the economy stagnates sufficiently to deny Barack Obama a second term. Or spins off into catastrophe, if the debt limit isn’t raised.

As a more or less liberal Democrat—and as an American—I want 2012 to be a slam dunk. Moreso than usual—because this group of Republicans isn’t like the GOP my late father voted for in the 1950s and 1960s. Ike and Clifford Case, the GOP senator when I was growing up New Jersey, would be Big Government Pinkos to this crew. Any field of candidates in which the lunatic Michele Bachmann is a plausible contender—well, that’s as scary as a Martian invasion.

So, maybe Barack is a shoe-in, even if the jobless rate parks at 9 percent. But I want to nail it. I want to nuke the Republicans—metaphorically—with nothing left to chance. And the only way that can happen is for President Obama to run with Hillary Rodham Clinton as his vice-presidential candidate. She’s reportedly had her fill at as Secretary of State, a job Vice-President Biden (someone I’ve always liked for his Everyman appeal and basic humanity) has always coveted.

To be sure, Hillary might not want to be second banana, even if it places her next in line for the White House; rumors have her longing for the World Bank presidency. Critics would mock Obama for needing Hillary to bail him out—you can just hear the Faux Newsies braying about that. If there’s any residual drama about Bill and his love life, well Andrew Breitbart will be sure to enlighten us about that.

Doesn’t matter. Pennsylvania and Florida? Done. Ohio? Chalk that one up, too. Scott Walker, Rick Snyder and the auto bailout success story have probably nailed Wisconsin and Michigan for Obama, but Hillary would seal the deal. The non-right-wing-Palin-Bachmannite female vote? In the bag. Those famous “white working class voters?” Obama would do a lot better with them if he had Hillary on his ticket. “Swing States” would overwhelmingly go blue, and the President might even exceed his 365 electoral votes of 2008. The GOP would be reduced to the Deep South and irretrievably Red states like Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Utah.

I don’t expect this to happen. But I hope the nuclear option—Obama-Hillary—remains an option, so that this one doesn’t go down to the wire.

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There is one thing about today’s right-wing, GOP propaganda machine for which I confess a grudging admiration: They have grasped that the nation has a short attention span; that much of the electorate falls into the “low-information” category—the Ignoramiat—witness polls that show large percentages of Americans who, for example, don’t know who John Boehner is; and above all, they recognize that historical memory is nonexistent.

And so, the Right— whether via Fox News, revisionist ex-Bushies, or Rush and hate radio—proceeds to rewrite history, and create alternate realities. Obama isn’t an American; he’s a one-Man Islamofascist terror cell; although we spent much of 2008 castigating him as an Ivy League elitist, he either didn’t really go to Columbia, or graduate with high honors from Harvard Law School, or else merely got there via affirmative action. Tax cuts for the rich don’t add to deficits—but social programs and all those lazy-ass poor folks and 85-year-olds do. The Civil War had nothing to do with slavery and it wasn’t treason—it was a war against Yankee aggression. And on and on.

It would be laughable if the Ignoramiat didn’t buy into it. And so would the Right’s current disinformation campaign: Because Barack Obama— a Democratic President, an African-American, Kenyan-Muslim-socialist-arugula-eating-gansta-governing-affirmative-action-Ivy-League-elitist—directed a bold, brilliant, operation to take out Osama bin Laden, the most hated man since Adolf Hitler, mastermind of the worst attack ever on U.S. soil, which slaughtered 3,000 innocents, traumatized the nation, changed our way of life and—as was his goal—nearly bankrupted the country, thanks to economic panic, an explosion of military spending, and two endless wars; because Obama and his remarkable force struck this astonishing blow for justice…..

…Obviously George W. Bush should  get the credit. George W. Bush, who professed a lack of interest in bin Laden, who let him slip away at Tora Bora. And who, I would suggest, didn’t even want the al Qaeda founder dead—because that would have taken away the face of evil, the bogey man, thereby, for many Americans, removing the justification for the wars that drove the nation into the ground—at least one of which was entirely unnecessary.

Think about that. Sept. 11 happens on Bush-Cheney’s watch—but they rarely absorb any of the blame, even  though serious warnings were ignored. But they get credit for taking out bin Laden—two-plus years into the administration of their successor, after a daring military operation that was entirely under the command of Barack Obama and his team.

Even if you hold your nose and award him a shred of credit, it’s clear that Obama, this anti-American imposter, coolly managed to root out and eliminate the world’s most elusive wanted man—well, just to boost his sagging poll numbers.

The hubris is breathtaking. This after Bush-Cheney, McCain and the rest of the GOP (see Giuliani, Rudy) spent a decade using 9/11 as a political cudgel, as usual playing the national security card to portray Democrats—even a war hero like John Kerry—as weaklings who won’t keep us safe or win the “war on terror.” Indeed, the GOP manages to win this nat. sec. point even though every major war of the 20th century was waged, for good or ill, by a Democratic President.

Right wing history is selective, creative, and grotesquely distorted.

Ronald Reagan won the Cold War all by himself.

Trickle-down economics really, really works, even though the middle class has flatlined over the past 30 years while the rich have gotten vastly richer and the cost of living has skyrocketed.

Bush bore no responsibility for 9/11. But he should get the credit for taking out bin Laden. Even though Barack Obama did it—a minor point.

And Herbert Hoover sure did whip the Nazis and Japanese, didn’t he?

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An open letter to liberals—and liberals who call themselves progressives.

When the West Coast map lit up brilliantly, beautifully blue on Nov. 4, 2008, pushing Barack Obama over 270 electoral votes, millions of us experienced a wave of political euphoria the likes of which we never imagined we’d live to feel.

Especially giddy were those of us old enough to remember another, bleaker November night in 1980, when a Hollywood second-stringer named Ronald Reagan swept into the White House, ushering in decades of right-wing policies that carried us into wars; greased the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and working poor; empowered a Christian fundamentalist, social conservative revival that threatened to turn the entire country into Dayton, Tenn., circa 1925; and validated a Lee Atwater-Karl Rove politics of the Big Lie and personal destruction that transformed “liberal” into a synonym for weak and unpatriotic—even, paradoxically, to many who tightly embraced liberal programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Oh, we got  jazzed about Bill Clinton and Al Gore in ’92. But Clinton’s centrism—many feel he governed as a Republican—his genuine personal failings and the relentlessly witch-hunting Right would drain much of the promise from his presidency and leave many liberals disappointed.  With the Supreme Court’s election of George W. Bush in 2000, and the 9/11 attacks, liberal Democrats became more cowed than ever.

But with the Obama ascendancy—after eight endless, disastrous years of Bush-Cheney and three decades of Reaganism—it was our turn. A revival. The dawn of a new liberal/progressive era.

Or was it? Many liberals are driven to distraction by President Obama’s almost obsessive desire to rise above the fray, to be the adult in the room, to reach consensus. We’re pissed because he’s too cozy with Wall Street; we’re pissed about the Bush Tax Cut extension; we’re pissed about the lack of a public option in the Health care bill; we’re pissed about Afghanistan, and we’re pissed about Gitmo and Bradley Manning. We’re pissed that he didn’t do more to plug up the BP leak. We’re pissed that he hasn’t done more to back unions in the Midwest. And in the Mideast, we’re either pissed that Obama didn’t intervene quickly enough to help the Libyan opposition—or we’re pissed that he intervened at all.

Now we’re preparing to be pissed—with good reason, perhaps—that our “middle way” POTUS won’t stand up to the Right and its resolve to destroy Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and all other remnants of the New Deal—and transform the USA into Kochistan.

Personally I agree with some, though not all, of the above. I remain a strong supporter of the President; perhaps my innate realism/pessimism kept me from expecting—and fantasizing—too much. Maybe President Obama hasn’t been a liberal messiah. But he has been an enlightened leader who has accomplished more legislatively than any President since Lyndon Johnson. This while dealing with a dysfunctional Senate, a rightist-rigged Supreme Court and a conservative propaganda juggernaut that has a frightening percentage of the electorate convinced that he’s un-American—or not American, and therefore not legitimate, at all.

(For more on POTUS’ accomplishments , check out http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com.)

How many of us would trade Obama for the deepest, darkest days of Bush-Cheney. Or a return to Reagan? Or, even more terrifying, any of the rightist ideologues now driving the Republican Party, zealots against whom Reagan himself might well lose a GOP Primary.

Why are we saddled with these Koch-and-corporate backed Teabagging extremists? Why are wingnuts like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann given any legitimacy? Why do we see a GOP House trying to eviscerate women’s reproductive rights; why do we see right-wing governors like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Rick Snyder Paul LePage and John Kasich wage war on workers, teachers, firefighters and the middle class, while big business and the wealthy get fatter and fatter? Why do we hear about rolling back child labor laws? Why the talk bout “shared sacrifice”—that is for all but the richest Americans, the ones who can afford it? Why are we threatened with the destruction of social safety nets we foolishly took for granted—and for which many of us have paid for many years?

Well, one huge reason was the “enthusiasm gap” in the 2010 midterms. When millions of Democrats and other moderates-to-liberals said “Meh”  and stayed home, while fired up Teabaggers and righty extremists turned out in droves—along with independents who fell for the bullshit they heard on Fox News, and the lies in Koch-Chamber of Commerce-Rove-funded attack ads.

Whatever the level of one’s disappointment with Obama, the experience of 2010 should be traumatizing enough for millions of stay-at-homes not to make the same mistake again. Especially while the GOP is using the “voter fraud” myth to disenfranchise as many young and minority voters—Democratic leaning voters—as possible.

I still believe that in a second term, with a restored Congressional majority, Barack Obama can accomplish even more than he has in the past 26 months. And even if you remain disillusioned, even it depresses you to vote “against” the GOP instead of “for” Obama, as you did in ’08—get over it.

Think of the havoc a Pawlenty, Romney, a Rubio or whoever else can wreak. On social programs and women’s rights. On the middle class and workers. On the already corrupt Supreme Court. On international affairs.

If you think 2010 was bad….

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One of the reasons 67 or so million of us voted for Barack Obama in 2008 was his cool, intelligent, rational demeanor, a welcome change from years of GOP saber-rattling, fear-mongering, bumper-sticker politicking and faux-patriotic bombast. Obama’s Zen focus and “no drama” credo contrasted sharply with John McCain’s erratic truculence; the McCain-Palin ticket promised an itchy finger on the button, with a grinning, winking idiot in the wings.

But at this time of crises, upheavals and catastrophes, domestic and foreign, the President and his political handlers seem to have missed something crucial in his job description. And I say this as a strong supporter, who thinks he’s done an excellent job substantively, and would rather have him in the White House than any Republican, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln. In an interview with Matt Lauer during last year’s BP oil disaster, POTUS said the presidency “is not theater” and that he “doesn’t always have time to perform for the benefit of cable news shows.”

There is something admirable in that, I suppose. But I think President Obama has it wrong. Look back over the past 90 years, since electronic media brought the presidency into America’s living rooms. Who were the most successful chief executives, electorally and in terms of achieving their goals?

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

As far apart as they were ideologically, those two Presidents shared one common gift: They were masters of political theater, using their office not only as a “bully pulpit,” but as a stage. They grasped that a flair for the dramatic was an indispensable quality in a leader. As Jonathan Alter recounts in The Defining Moment, his excellent book on Roosevelt’s election and early presidency, FDR once said to Orson Welles, “Orson, you know, you and I are the two best actors in America.”  And Reagan, of course, actually was an actor.

Privately, both those men are said to have shied away from intimacy; there was something unknowable about them. But publicly both knew how to bond with the country, to be empathetic, to make Americans feel that they cared (Bill Clinton, another two-term President who remains a political rock star 10 years after leaving office, may be the grand master of empathy).

FDR’s speeches and “fireside chats” were tours de force that rallied the nation; not only did he try endless strategies to lift America out of the Great Depression he made sure Americans knew it—made sure it looked like he was doing something.

As for Reagan, he, was the Great Communicator—he, too, knew how to instill confidence. And his “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speech was so effective that some worshippers credit him with winning the Cold War single-handed.

Both presidents made missteps (as a liberal, of course, I’ll argue that Reagan made more of them). But in the minds of all but the ideologues on either end of the spectrum, they are remembered for their successes—and perceived successes.

With his disdain for political theater and public show, and apparent preference for behind-the-scenes problem-solving and negotiation, President Obama is dismissing the “making it look like you’re doing something” part of the job—and he’s missed several opportunities to do so. As Rahm Emanuel famously said, never let a crisis go to waste. The past two years have brought huge crises that cried out for the president to show some stage presence— something more than the occasional briefing to announce that he’s “monitoring the situation.”

The BP oil spill was a golden opportunity for President Obama to show that he’s not George W. Bush, to immediately say he would take control, to declare war on the disaster, to get down there, roll up his sleeves—and yes, do some photo ops. Instead, he took a couple of family vacations. And while a presidential vacation—especially in this communications age—is always a working one, you have to look like you’re engaged.

The pundits call it “optics.” The explosions in the Mideast and the Japanese catastrophe were two other recent instances that cried out for a show of passion. Instead, we saw President Obama offer up his college basketball picks and celebrate St. Paddy’s Day.

Domestically, the president has been less than Rooseveltian in conveying his impassioned determination to solve the jobs crisis—or look like he’s solving the jobs crisis.

As for the upheavals in the Midwest, where Republican governors like Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Snyder seem determined to crush the middle class under the weight of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, I understand why President Obama has been laying back, not injecting himself into these state fights. It has allowed the blossoming of a huge movement that has energized the Democratic base, and pulled blue-collar and middle class “Reagan Democrats” away from the GOP.

But something like Snyder’s attempt to turn Michigan into a corporate monarchy seems to beg for some kind of comment or show of interest. Still, the jury’s still out—this may be one instance where the President’s detachment works, as GOP overreach makes the party toxic in the electorally critical heartland.

History may prove that on substance, President Obama has generally followed the right course. But in the short term, if purely out of political self –interest, he could learn a few things from Roosevelt and Ronnie about White House stagecraft.

Mr. President, tear down this wall—the wall between you and the rest of us.

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One of the most entertaining shows in American politics at the moment is the spectacle of conservative intellectuals like George Will and Charles Krauthammer, among others, desperately trying to lock Sarah Palin in the attic like the mad wife in Jane Eyre. When Republican and independent voters hit the pillow at night, these small-government sages want them fantasizing about the vast, sweeping forehead—and the considerable brain underneath—of Mitch Daniels, not SarahPac’s sophomoric smirk.

You could have called it. With the 2012 Presidential race looming, lamestream Republicans are trying with all their might to push Palin under the bus. With her approval ratings at an all-time low, they’re ganging up to finish her off. Even Roger Ailes has criticized her for that grotesquely narcissistic display of victimhood in the wake of the Tucson tragedy. You can just see them all huddling with Karl Rove, planning their lines of attack.

The reasoning is obvious: Palin is utterly unelectable. To thoughtful advocates of conservative political philosophy, she is beyond an embarrassment. And to everyone outside her aggrieved, white, fundamentalist, know-nothing base—in other words the current base of the Republican Party—she is at best a figure of fun, at worst a vicious, hate-mongering moron.  Indeed, from the moment a desperate John McCain chose Palin for the 2008 ticket, some grownups on the Right cringed. Remember when a live mike during an MSNBC commercial break caught Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy essentially saying the Palin pick had doomed the GOP?

And that was before they knew the monster McCain had loosed upon the world. Before they knew that Sarah Palin would suck the air out of all American politics to the right of Bill Clinton, and become the GOP rock star. The face of the party. And that she would become a media-enabled juggernaut, stopping at nothing to fuel her own celebrity and wealth.

Now they want desperately to put her back into the bottle.

Too late, guys. And you should know by now that the one thing NOT to do to Palin is attack her—otherwise you’ll wind up being called “impotent” and “limp” and you’ll have her in your face for a few more news cycles.

The real problem is that Palin does strike a chord with the hardcore right wing base. Today’s ABC-Washington Post poll tells the story: Nationally, Palin’s approval ratings are in a bus station toilet; among Republicans generally, she’s lost a great deal of ground; but among conservative zealots, the kind who vote in primaries, she’s stronger than ever:

“Palin has a 58 percent net favorable rating among Republicans, and a 37 percent net unfavorable rating. While that rating is still positive, it’s the worst she’s had with Republicans since she emerged on the national stage; her previous low was 63-31 percent…”

But don’t get too cocky, Mitt, Newt and T-Paw:

“Among strong Tea Party supporters, strongly favorable views of Huckabee and Palin are highest, at 45 and 42 percent, respectively; strongly favorable views of Gingrich and Romney drop off in this group to 35 and 31 percent, respectively…..” And among “Republicans who say they are “very” conservative. Palin and Huckabee (at 45 and 44 percent) again attract much higher strongly favorable ratings among strong conservatives than do Gingrich and Romney (30 and 28 percent).”

Another revealing trend in the poll is Mike Huckabee‘s continued high rating: It explains his recent descent into wingnut birtherism—obviously Huck saw a recent survey showing that 51 percent of Republicans think President Obama is foreign-born. That underscores the can’t-live-with-’em-can’t-live-without-’em dilemma that drives the conservative intelligentsia nuts: They can expound on Adam Smith and Edmund Burke and Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman all they want—Republicans need their Yahoos, their Ignoramiat. You can’t win primaries without them. Since they’re your base, you can’t compete in general elections without them, either. And yet ultimately, elections are won in the center—which recoils at extremist wingnuttery.

Of course, the whole GOP has moved sharply to the right and arguably dragged the political center with it.  There are the radical plutocrats like the Koch Brothers, who bankroll stooges like Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Snyder; the Teabaggers and the Christian Theocrats, groups that overlap with the Yahoo-Ignoramiat Palinistas—those aggrieved white know-nothings who revel in their reactionary ignorance while wrapping themselves in Jesus, Old Glory and the Constitution—well, at least the Second Amendment.

And don’t underestimate the racial element. Ever since the GOP pursued its “Southern Strategy” Republicans have captured the white vote, usually by healthy margins.

% Votes White Republican Democrat Other
1976 89 52 48
1980 88 56 36 8
1984 86 66 34
1988 85 60 40
1992 87 41 39 21
1996 83 46 44 9
2000 81 55 42 3
2004 77 58 41 1
2008 74 55 43

These stats are heavily skewed by the South, of course. Consider that Barack Obama won just 9 percent of the White male vote in Mississippi against 91 percent for John McCain (of course the black vote was similarly imbalanced). But John Kerry didn’t exactly tear it up, losing 18-81 against George W. Bush in Ol’ Miss.

The problem that by pandering to whites, painting the Democrats as the party that takes hard-earned money out of your pocket and gives it to drug addled “welfare queens,” suggesting President Obama is an un-American “other,” Republicans made their own bed. Those aggrieved, poor and middle –class whites were ripe for a demagogue, and Palin has more than filled the bill. They love her. Attack her, you attack them.

And then you set up one of the central themes of her victimhood politics: The Washington elites—conservative ones in this case—versus the 5-college Real American ignoramus. Them versus Us. And now Rush Limbaugh has come to Palin’s defense, which makes it worse—attack her, you attack Rush. And that’s something you just don’t do.

Palin may well not run for president in 2012.  For one thing, it would certainly entail a huge pay cut. But she’s not going anywhere.  Even if she doesn’t enter the race, she’ll continue to be a huge, air-sucking distraction, with her inane, snarky Tweets and comments, her feuds, her breathtaking ignorance.  And she will overshadow everyone in a blandly uninspiring GOP field.

So conservatives: Own Sarah Palin. She’s all yours.

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Madison

 

 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but much of the time, many of us Americans—and I don’t exempt myself for a minute—essentially have our heads up our butts. You can’t entirely blame us. We’re trying to get through the day, consumed with the moment-to moment events of our own circumscribed lives, with our loved ones, with our homes, with our jobs (if we have one), with having sex, not having sex, losing the weight, changing our hair, avoiding our colonoscopies. (Which actually brings this paragraph full circle).

Lately, we’re obsessing over whatever iGizmo it is we’ll never surrender till someone pries from our cold, dead hands. If we focus on the outer world, it’s pure escapism—sports & Snooki.

But when it comes to history and politics, that’s when we Americans really rear our buttheaditude. Two illustrative stories come to mind:

1) A recent Gallup Poll of 1,015 adults asked to name the nation’s greatest president.

2) The Battle of Wisconsin.

WTF?

As for the presidents: For most historians, naming the top three is a gimme—Lincoln, Washington, and FDR. Only the order is in dispute.

Not so for Gallup’s sampling of regular folks in Feb. 2011:

Ronald Reagan — 19%

Abraham Lincoln — 14%

Bill Clinton — 13%

John F. Kennedy — 11%

George Washington — 10%

Franklin Roosevelt — 8%

Barack Obama — 5%

Theodore Roosevelt — 3%

Harry Truman — 3%

George W. Bush — 2%

Thomas Jefferson — 2%

Reagan? Seriously?

Well, no. Liberals of course, argue that he set the country back 50 years, empowering repressive social conservatism and promoting the trickle-down economics that helped create the ever vaster economic chasm between the rich and the rest of us.  But leaving aside ideology I don’t even think Nancy Reagan would give Ronald Reagan the gold. Nor, to be fair, would any sane person rank Clinton third or the 34-month term of JFK fourth, or Obama in seventh, above TR and Truman. And when was the last time W and Jefferson were mentioned in the same sentence?

The point is that these surveys always skew wildly toward contemporary presidents. This is the year of Reagan’s centennial, he’s in the news again, Teabaggers are summoning his memory (though, as many point out, he’d probably not survive a primary today). At the same time, if you asked these same 1,015 folks to name the worst POTUS, I suspect W, Bubba, Ronnie and Barack would poll very high—certainly better than Harding (Warren, not Tonya) or Buchanan (James, not Pat).

Now, to current events: How many Americans are really aware of the Battle of Wisconsin—specifically the fight over collective bargaining—and if they are, do they know the stakes?

How many Democrats, moderates and ordinary working stiffs realize that Scott Walker’s anti-union purge is part of a nationwide effort by the GOP—backed by powerful right-wing forces like the Koch Brothers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce—to use “fiscal responsibility” as a weapon to crush the Democratic Party? To make Karl Rove’s wet dream of a permanent GOP majority reality? And in the process, wage nuclear class warfare, obliterating workers’ rights and recourse, suppressing wages and benefits and maximizing profits for a very few?

For insight into the GOP strategy, look at the Citizens United decision delivered by our tea-stained Supreme Court, which allows corporations and labor unions to flow unrestricted cash into the political campaigns.

Corporations tilt heavily toward Republicans; unions tilt Democratic. Shutting down unions is like cutting off the Dems blood supply. And it’s not just money; unions are crucial to getting out the vote, and registering new voters—who historically trend Democratic. Squelching unions is key to GOP voter suppression plans—the same reason they waged a vendetta against ACORN, why they’re pushing voter ID legislation, and trying to end same-day voter registration. The more new voters, the higher the turnout, the better for Democrats—at least most of the time.

But as Andrew Levine, Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, writes in CounterPunch:

“Even this is not the main reason why Madison matters. It isn’t just Democratic-leaning unions that Walker and his Tea Party colleagues want to undo – it’s public sector unions. This matters for reasons that are much more obscure than the others but that are plainly related to many of our contemporary afflictions — the financialization of contemporary capitalism, the globalization of manufacturing and trade, and, more generally, the world-wide assault on social and economic advances won at great cost over the past century and a half. The problem, in short, is that to survive, capitalism must expand – and, with so few areas left for expansion, the public sphere is a target too tempting to resist.”

That’s a hell of a lot harder to digest than, “I gotta cut the budget which means those overpaid public workers have to suck it up and STFU.”

All we know is what’s in our own, narrow frame of reference. And, when it comes to contemporary politics, what’s quick and easy to digest. What’s in front of our face—and we take most of that at face value. Bumper sticker stuff. That’s why Fox News is so effective—it spews out falsehood, opinion and wild speculation as fact. And as Mark Twain said, more or less, a lie can circle the globe before the truth can put its shoes on.

Indianapolis

And yet, truth may be gaining ground. The thousands of peaceful anti-Walker protesters in Madison seem to be getting their message across. According to polls, a significant majority of Wisconsin voters oppose Walker’s attempt to crush collective bargaining. Now, faced with a similar revolt in Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels—perhaps keeping in mind his presidential ambitions—has backed off union-busting “Right-to Work” legislation in his state.

Whatever one thinks of the Koch-Tea Party, it has dominated endless news cycles and shifted the national conversation  with its anti-government, anti-labor, Obamaphobic demagoguery.

Maybe the progressives, union members and Democrats making their stand in Madison can change the subject

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