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Posts Tagged ‘GOP’

The right to vote—the very foundation of the American idea—is drenched in blood, something precious beyond value, for which men and women have fought, suffered and died. The franchise is a right once confined to white male property owners, and only after centuries of struggle was it extended to African-Americans, women, and all other citizens over the age of 18.

Now, all across the nation, Republican state governments are waging war on voting. Using the ruse of “voter fraud”—an invented non-crisis—GOP governors and legislatures, many of them installed in the 2010 elections, are ramming through Voter ID laws that may suppress turnout by several million in 2012. These laws disproportionately affect the elderly, infirm, minorities, the poor and students—most historically Democratic constituencies. In many cases, voters who have cast ballots for decades must now obtain and produce new forms of identification in order to make their voices heard. Often this requires travel and considerable cost—effectively, an unconstitutional poll tax—and a descent into Kafkaesque bureaucracy.

The goal, of course, is that millions of potentially Democratic voters will throw their hands up, surrender—and stay home on Election Day.

The goal, of course, is to defeat Barack Obama.

It’s an old story. The GOP has always sought to suppress turnout. What’s tragic is that the right wing is receiving some unexpected help—from some of our friends on the left.

Disappointed that the President has not ushered in a progressive utopia, some liberals in the media and in cyberspace are encouraging their compatriots to stay home, or perhaps, waste their votes on quixotic “Obama alternatives” like Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.

Despite unbending opposition from GOP filibusterers in the Senate, and a radical Tea Party House, President Obama has forged a record of domestic legislative accomplishment unsurpassed since the Great Society era of Lyndon Johnson. He saved the American auto industry—and saved America from a second Great Depression.  Millions more Americans will have health coverage—saving untold lives. Gays and Lesbians can now serve openly in the military. In the area of foreign policy the Obama years have seen the end of Osama bin Laden and many  other al Qaeda leaders, the fall of Ghadafy, the end of the Iraq War and a drawdown in Afghanistan. And the Obama administration has ushered in a new era of “smart power”—an antidote to the cowboy neoconservatism that brought on one needless war, another grossly mismanaged and prolonged conflict, thousands of deaths and the accumulation of massive debt. Not to mention the diminishment of America’s standing in the world.

I do not assert for a minute that President Obama is beyond criticism. I have been frustrated at times by his over-willingness to compromise with uncompromising foes, among other things, as well as the Big Pharma deal and a failure to address adequately the foreclosure crisis. But I would take Barack Obama on his worst day before turning the country over to a radicalized, right wing Republican party.

Some liberals seem to think otherwise. They are miffed that Obama hasn’t broken up the big banks and prosecuted Wall Street malefactors who destroyed the economy. They are miffed that he hasn’t closed Gitmo, and that he signed the NDAA. They are miffed that he “caved” on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy (never mind that everyone else’s taxes would also have risen). They are miffed about his environmental record, and the Keystone Pipleline. They are miffed that he has not come out strongly for marriage equality—even though he repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and has ceased to defend DOMA.

They are miffed that he hasn’t beaten the crap out of Dick Cheney.

All those criticisms have validity. What does not is the response of some disappointed, self-styled progressives: To elect the likely GOP nominee, Willard Mitt Romney.

Oh, they haven’t come out and said it. But the liberal pundits who—like spurned lovers—daily trash the President, who urge progressives to stay home and “send a message,” or vote for a doomed third party candidate, or write in Pat Paulsen—they are essentially wearing Romney 2012 buttons.

For anyone to the left of Joe Scarborough, this is sheer folly. The notion that “they’re all alike” and that a vote for Obama is cast for  “the lesser of two evils” is patently absurd.

Look what’s happening in Congress and across the country. Not only are voting rights under siege, but…

The right wing has waged war on women’s health and reproductive rights—God help the rape or incest victim who seeks to terminate a pregnancy. Even birth control might be imperiled

Republicans advocate the destruction of social safety nets, privatization that will force many seniors and working Americans into poverty. Their “trickle down” policies have yielded historic income inequality—can you imagine what life would be like under Mitt “Bain Capital” Romney?

The radical GOP has also waged war on unions and workers—advocating not only the elimination of the minimum wage and workplace rights, but a rollback of child labor laws. Yes, for the love of God, child labor laws.

A Republican-dominated government would  see the end of myriad environmental and safety regulations—making Barack Obama look like Bill McKibben.

LGBT? Tough. If the GOP has its way, DADT will be reinstated and marriage equality will become a hopeless cause—and Dan Choi can chain himself to the White House gates till Doomsday

Disappointed with Obama’s record on civil liberties? Try your luck with a GOP administration.

What of the Supreme Court? Imagine the ramifications if Romney appoints two more conservatives: A 7-2 right wing majority that, for many of us, will last the rest of our lives.

And, lest we forget, foreign policy: Mitt Romney will bet you 10 grand that within the next four years we will be at war with Iran—or Syria, or someone else—if he’s elected.

Elections have consequences. Several hundred fewer liberal Ralph Nader voters in 2000 might have saved us the Bush years. A bit less liberal apathy in 2010—especially at the state level—might have spared us Scott Walker, John Kasich, Rick Snyder and Rick Scott, not to mention a House full of teabagging wingnuts.

Liberals, before you stay home or throw your vote away, think. Would you rather press President Obama for the next four years—or surrender the country to the Dark Side.

That’s what I call “caving.”

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In 1976, shortly after Jimmy Carter was elected president and the post-Watergate GOP lay in ruins, there was an episode of All in the Family in which Archie and Meathead argue over the election. Archie, of course, has the last word—and the final line of the show:

“Yeah—we’ll you’re gonna get Reagan in ’80!!!”

It was meant, of course, as a laugh line—pathetic and absurd. And—whether enhanced in the studio or not—it achieved the desired guffaws, chortles, et. al.

Well, we know how that one turned out.

I’m reminded of that episode today, as Newt Gingrich surges to the top of the GOP pack. Many of my fellow liberals in the media are crowing, rubbing their hands in glee, and all but doing a victory dance—a year early—over the prospect of corrupt, caddish Newtie going up against President Obama. Rachel Maddow—whom I love dearly—crows about it most every night. Pundit after pundit—Republicans included—dismiss Gingrich as unelectable.

Maybe they’re right. They probably are. Newt’s bubble may burst well before Iowa.

But please, Democrats, liberal and otherwise: Don’t spike the ball yet. Despite his titanic flaws, we might still get Gingrich in ’12.

I say this not only because I’m superstitious and constitutionally pessimistic—on Election Night 2008, I sat with my wife in a Barnes & Noble café until I’d learned from the barista that Obama had won Pennsylvania and Ohio, and only then raced home to watch the returns, and savor Keith Olbermann’s announcement of my candidate’s resounding victory.

I clung to this pessimism because I simply did not think this country would elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama. This despite all the polls, despite the fact that some weeks before the election, a friend of mine who’d appeared on a show with GOP strategist Ed Rollins, had relayed to me that a disgusted Rollins had said off-camera, “It’s over.”

But even leaving aside my own neuroses, there are plenty of reasons to be very afraid. The President could be undone, Newt notwithstanding, by any number of factors, such as

  1. GOP economic sabotage continuing to work
  2. The Europe mess
  3. FOX news—and friends; yes, they were there in ’08, but the propaganda and disinformation juggernaut is larger, more virulent than ever. And remember, there was no Tea Party in 2008.
  4. The other mainstream media: They’re sloppy, lazy and terrified of being labeled “liberal.” Hence the false equivalencies, etc.
  5. Citizen’s United, which has given ALEC, Rove et. al., unlimited influence. Next time liberals bash Obama for going to a big-ticket fundraiser, keep this in mind. We’d love to get money out of politics—but for the moment, it’s very much here.
  6. Race: A recent study concluded that Obama lost 5 points because of racism. Do the math. And Newt Gingrich, an angry old white guy, is the perfect candidate to channel Caucasian hate and rage.
  7. Voter Suppression: One of the dire consequences of the 2010 elections has been the dominance of the Right Wing agenda on the state and local level. Using the ruse of near nonexistent voter fraud, there is a coordinated—and downright evil—attempt by Republicans to make it difficult for minorities, the elderly and young people to vote. Of course, this chiefly affects constituencies far more likely to vote for Barack Obama
  8. Liberal self-sabotage: I am not one of those people who says that one must never criticize the President. I disagree with many of the things he’s done. But at some point before the election, Cenk Ugyur, Bernie Sanders (my favorite Senator), Cornel West, Tavis Smiley and all those aggrieved lefty bloggers had better lighten up. Liberal disaffection and apathy may well have played a role in the 2010 debacle. That was disastrous. In 2012 it could be catastrophic. The GOP is doing enough to suppress Democratic turnout. Let’s not abet them. If Romney or Gingrich wins, you will beg for Obama on his worst day
  9. Maybe Newt isn’t so unelectable: Americans tend to have short memories, and believe in second (or third) chances. Perhaps even for someone who got kicked out of Congress, did shady deals, supports child labor, and dumped his cancer-stricken wife on her hospital bed. What Newt has going for him is the appearance of strength. Americans like that—more, perhaps, than the cringing, dissembling, waffling displays of Willard Mitt Romney.
  10. Wild cards, domestic or international

There are other hazards, of course. At bottom, I believe—much as I genuinely love Joe Biden—that the only way to ensure the President’s reelection is for him to run with Hillary Clinton. He’d take heat for having her bail him out. But I believe it would secure most every swing state.

That’s not going to happen. In my heart, I believe the President will be reelected anyway.

But in the meantime, don’t gloat over Gingrich.

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Now that—remarkably, and yet perhaps inevitably—The Donald has inserted himself into the GOP debate reality series, I thought it might be a good time to reissue this post, from the spring. Little has changed re-Trump—he’s still a crass, racist, birther who isn’t fit to shine Barack Obama’s shoes (although he and Newt Gingrich might assign an 8-year-old orphan to that task). He’s a grasping, self-promoting D-list Barnum. But the Republican presidential field, it seems, has stooped to his level and kissed his….whatever. Now, to the post:

I imagine that if one were brave enough to lift up the strange, unidentifiable creature playing the role of Donald Trump’s hair, one would find a teeming mass of worms and maggots. Or at least that’s how I imagine it, a ghoulish manifestation of all the vile, rotten, hideousness swirling about in the void of the reality TV star’s skull.

Strong words, perhaps. But they only begin to express the disgust and contempt Trump should provoke in any reasonable person. He was always a cartoonish lout, vulgarity personified, capitalism at its crassest. But in recent weeks, as he has waged a relentless smear campaign against President Barack Obama—a war of demagoguery, lies, hate and racism—this arrogantly ignorant buffoon has outdone himself. He may even have outdone Sarah Palin, an achievement more towering than any of the skyscrapers bearing his name—or, for that matter, his own deluded ego.

Trump has denigrated President Obama’s intellect, which is something like a bad karaoke singer trashing Sinatra. He has suggested that Obama only made it to Harvard and Columbia via affirmative action; he has maintained that Obama’s memoirs were ghostwritten—by Bill “Palling Around With Terrorists” Ayers, no less. And of course, Trump has jumped to the driver’s seat of the “birther” bandwagon, the wild, foil-hat conspiracy theory positing that the President of the United States is an illegal alien, and therefore illegitimate.

In short, Trump has played to the Republican base—a word that in this instance carries at least two meanings. For the hard-right core of the GOP—the Obama-era GOP—is base in the extreme, caked in philosophical fecal matter, rife with fear, paranoia, hate and, to be sure, racism.

Anyone who tells you that racism is not the driving force of birtherism—and at least an ingredient of some strains of the Tea Party movement—is lying, either to you, or to themselves. Millions of us sat in amazement when this country elected its first African-American president—until the West coast map turned blue, vaulting then-Sen. Obama over 270 electoral votes, I didn’t believe it possible, not in my lifetime. Even many of those who voted against him, I suspect, felt the nation growing up before our eyes.

But for all that “post-racialism” happy talk in late 2008, Obama’s ascendancy to the White House has unleashed a volcano of simmering race-hate, from the Confederacy and beyond. Elements of White America feel threatened, not just by African-Americans, but by Hispanic and Asian immigrants who are fast consigning Caucasians to the minority.

But the greatest affront to these angry white folks is Barack Obama. No president has received so many death threats; and those who would not kill him attack his birth. Surely the entire “birther” fiction would never have been invented were Obama white, and his “foreign” father Swiss. Nor, of course, would we have witnessed the revival of secessionism and talk of nullification.

I don’t know what Donald Trump’s racial views are. His statement to the effect that he’s always had a great relationship with “the blacks” may provide a hint. I suspect his vendetta against President Obama is motivated by some mix of greed and a lust for attention and notoriety. But regardless of his personal attitudes, Trump is causing enormous damage to this country; with his lies and rhetoric he has inflamed the worst elements of our society; through the vehicle of his celebrity he is causing the cancer of race hate to metastasize. A fringe fiction has entered public discourse, repeated and repeated, lent a whiff of legitimacy simply because—in our low-information, reality TV culture— the host of Celebrity Apprentice stamps it with his imprimatur. “Birther bills” are being fast-tracked through state legislatures. 75 percent of Iowa Republicans either believe President Obama was foreign-born—or aren’t sure.

Yes, Donald Trump is a charlatan, a clownish figure. But do not underestimate his impact. The world has dismissed ostensibly absurd demagogues before—and paid dearly for it.

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The 2012 Presidential Election is all about the hot steaming pile we call the American economy, stupid, right? Whether you blame President Obama or the Republican obstructionists who would sacrifice the nation just to destroy him. It’s all about the unemployment rate and the debt and revenue and entitlements and the GDP and the Tea Party and Wall Street and #OWS and the one percent and the 99 percent—in sum, as Keith Olbermann now signs off each night, the day after day of “this crap” we’re all trying to get through.

On a broader scale the election is also about the wars on women, labor and voting rights. It’s about repealing the 20th century, whether a Right Wing coup will take us back to a Kochian-utopia circa 1893, when folks worked in sweatshops—and liked it, goddammit—for magnates and robber barons and other plutocrats who threw parties at Sherry’s and Delmonico’s and Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish’s —and essentially ruled the earth (even more than now).

And it was about an America where “our blacks,” as Ann Coulter so Ann Coulteresquely put it, knew their place.

Indeed, as much as anything—perhaps more—the 2012 election is about race.

For three years, we have heard the Right vow to “take this country back.” We have heard endless other coded messages—“dog whistles,” they call them these days— reinforcing the fact that Barack Hussein Obama is an uppity African-American. Aside from the racist signs and blogs and GOP emails, and the efforts  to paint this moderate (too much so for much of his base), reasonable, enlightened man as a wild-eyed radical who does not believe in “American exceptionalism,” there is (still, remarkably) “birtherism”—a racially-charged lunatic conspiracy theory designed to smear him as an “other” or even a Manchurian Candidate foreign agent.

There have also been the systematic attempts by leading Republicans to delegitimize the President—the “You lie!”style dissing by members of Congress–including Speaker Boehner, who historically denied the Commander-in-Chief  his preferred date to address a Joint Session.

And now, as Rick Perry would phrase it, they’re “having some fun” with his grades—for, after all, how could a black man legitimately make it through two Ivy League Schools, head the Harvard Law Review and teach constitutional law?

The GOP is a white man’s party, still pursuing its pernicious Southern Strategy (which certainly works in states like Mississippi, where a recent poll showed that 46 percent of Republicans either believe interracial marriage should be illegal, or aren’t sure). There are exceptions, so few you can name them. Some well-paid TV pundits. Michael Steele. Wingnuts like Alan Keyes and Allen West.

And then there is  Herman Cain. Whether or not you dismiss him as a “minstrel” providing the GOP cover against charges of racism–as the African-American writer Toure has said; or as just another part of the Republican sideshow, no one can take this demonstrably ignorant carny barker for real presidential candidate.

And of course there is his campaign commercial. Not the “cigarette man” spot, but the one nobody talks about–the climax of which shows a white redneck punching out a black man.

No, the real candidates are two 60-something white guys, one a plutocratic Mormon—and while I wouldn’t brand him racist, his sect  has, certainly, a complicated racial track record; the other a states rights Texan who sees nothing wrong with confederate flags, secession talk and rocks inscribed “N—–head.”

So, Barack Obama, who had the temerity to defeated an old white guy in 2008, will likely  face another in 2012. Should he lose, God forbid, they’ll get their country back—or so it will seem for a time.

But the national complexion is changing—it’s getting browner, and there is nothing Pat Buchanan or the racist wing of the Tea Party, or Rush Limbaugh or Donald Trump or the Florida GOP can do about it.

 

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First, the Losers:

1) Herman Cain, obviously.

2) The GOP: Just one more embarrassment spilling out of the clown car.

3) The Koch Brothers: Herm‘s their employee.

4) The American People—Because of the fact that, scandal or not, for a few more news cycles Herman Cain will be discussed as a real presidential candidate.

and the winners:

1) Herman Cain —he’ll play the victim, sell more books, get the Fox gig and maybe even Dancing With the Stars

2) Rick Perry — The anti Romney vote has nowhere else to go; if he can suck up Cain’s RWNJ voters in Iowa, S.C and Fla., he can make a righty run at the Mittster.

3) Mitt Romney— Perry is incompetent and even if he temporarily absorbs Herm’s wingnuts, he’ll find a way to f— it up; the rest of the clowns make even Mitt—the spineless, oily, flip-flopping, plutocratic weasel—look statesmanlike.

4) The media—Another nice, sensational story to keep them from covering issues that matter to the American people.

5) President Obama—Every day, and in every way, the GOP freak show makes him look better and better.

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Today’s stock market dive was about more than our miserable debt deal, and more than our own economic inertia–it’s not always all about us. There’s, like, Europe and Asia, for instance.

But it is another indication that the GOP’s strategy to destroy a charismatic, brilliant–for whatever missteps he’s made–incumbent president is working, in the words of Dick Cheney, big-time. Indeed, it is the Republicans’ only strategy, given their lame group of wannabes–ranging from the smarmy, job-killing Romney, to utter wingnut, flat-earth lunacy.

That’s the plan— stall the recovery and maintain the high jobless rate. If the rate even approaches 8 percent, or shows some kind of steady downward trend, the GOP is (white) toast. And Mitch McConnell‘s prime objective, a one-term Obama, is hopeless.

To be sure, the President has admitted that he  underestimated the depth and severity of the Bush Recession. In retrospect, it seems to have been a grave error to spend his entire first year in office—and most of his political capital—wrangling over Health Care Reform, instead of working to stimulate more job growth. Perhaps out an inherently non-confrontational nature, perhaps out of an obsession with courting moderate, swing voters he has often seemed to govern on the Republicans’ turf—this after the 2008 election resoundingly rejected GOP policies.

Nevertheless, President Obama and the Democrats have proposed numerous jobs initiatives, some of which Republicans themselves have endorsed in the past. Of course they’ve all been stalled, blocked by GOP filibusters in the Senate, or squashed under the Boehner-Teabaggers in the House.

And the GOP jobs bills? Well, there aren’t any, of course. Republicans know the President owns the economy, and regardless of whose ideas improve it, POTUS gets credit–or blame if it goes south. So why help Barack Obama out–even if it meant an end to suffering, fear and deprivation?

In this time of obscene income inequality, the wealthy are raking it in and sitting on their money, or investing overseas. Corporations, meanwhile, are making the most out of fewer employees, working them longer hours, making them do the jobs of two people and either cutting salaries or keeping them flat. You’re lucky if you have a job, goes the philosophy, so don’t complain or it’s the highway for you. And with the decline of unions, there’s no advocate for fair treatment.

Where are the jobs? Well, they’re either being shipped overseas, or they’re simply not coming back for the reasons I list above–if you’re making a profit by overworking fewer employees, why rock the boat?

Oh, we might see an expansion of employment if we had more consumer demand by the middle and working class. But the Catch-22 of flat wages or joblessness precludes that.

I’m no economist, and our problems are far more complex than all that. But so far, GOP, Mission Accomplished

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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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