Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Rant / Counter Rant

Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care. [...]Ezra Klein wrote of his puzzlement over the fact that while House Republicans essentially won the debt ceiling fight, enough of them were sufficiently dissatisfied that they might still scuttle the deal. Of course they might - the attitude of many freshman Republicans to national default was "bring it on!"


I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages.


Republicans were willing to lay off 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, 70,000 private construction workers and let FAA safety inspectors work without pay, in fact, forcing them to pay for their own work-related travel - how prudent is that? - in order to strong arm some union-busting provisions into the FAA reauthorization.


It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult.


As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.


A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people.

Mike Lofgren, former GOP Congressional staff member, at Truth Out

Mission Accomplished.

By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

The relative winner. Because winning is all that matters.

There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

Now, I’m going to take issue. Not with the fact that there are millions of low-information voters who blanket all politicians together, but that it is only low-information voters who do so, and to the implication that this blanket is not justified. To be sure, the article’s author gives us an example of Democratic legislation in his opening paragraphs:

The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests - no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.

The author’s premise in this article is that the Democratic party is less loony than the Republican party. I’ll give him that. But they play the same game that allows for “relative wins” to be more meaningful than justice, morality, and a healthy nation all combined.

This constant drizzle of "there the two parties go again!" stories out of the news bureaus, combined with the hazy confusion of low-information voters, means that the long-term Republican strategy of undermining confidence in our democratic institutions has reaped electoral dividends [...] - if government is a racket and both parties are the same, why vote? And if the uninvolved middle declines to vote, it increases the electoral clout of a minority that is constantly being whipped into a lather by three hours daily of Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. There were only 44 million Republican voters in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they effectively canceled the political results of the election of President Obama by 69 million voters.

And whose fault is that? That is not something you can blame on low-information voters. President #Compromise’s presidential campaign brought out scores of voters. Obviously voters who were paying close attention, else the 2010 mid-terms would have produced a different result.

But most Republican officeholders seem strangely uninterested in the effective repeal of Fourth Amendment protections by the Patriot Act, the weakening of habeas corpus and self-incrimination protections in the public hysteria following 9/11 or the unpalatable fact that the United States has the largest incarcerated population of any country on earth. [...] Instead, they prefer to rail against those government programs that actually help people. And when a program is too popular to attack directly, like Medicare or Social Security, they prefer to undermine it by feigning an agonized concern about the deficit. That concern, as we shall see, is largely fictitious.

And the Democratic Party seems similarly strangely uninterested in protecting civil rights, does it not? Its very head has increased Bush era programs completely contra to Constitutional rights, justified and applauded by the party minions, and has indicated that Social Security is “on the table.” So why is the pot calling what kettle black?

Undermining Americans' belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy.

Aided and abetted by the Democratic Party. If they are not instigating, they are willingly participating.

Read the article yourself if you want more GOP bashing. I’m not saying the GOP doesn’t deserve to be bashed. They deserve to be isolated on some cold dead moon. But, I’m skipping forward a number of paragraphs…

How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? - can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative "Obamacare" won out.

Yes, it’s all about naming something. Democrats are too intellectual for the populace. My big toe. The plan earned a pejorative on its own (and why is the name of the president pejorative, may I ask?).

Contrast that with the Republicans' Patriot Act. You're a patriot, aren't you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn't the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?

Because…and here you need to pay attention, Mike…because it wasn’t a jobs bill. It was a stimulus that poured money into the pockets of bankers. Who needs the clue?

But, I’ll grant you, they could have called it a jobs bill. Heaven knows they cloak everything they possibly can in deceitful terms. Only, I’m pretty sure even “low-information voters” would recognize that they still don’t have a job.

I’ll give Mike his props on calling out the fact that Democrats don’t paint “entitlements” like they should. They don’t call Medicare and Social Security what they are – lifelines to those “low information voters.” I don’t know why they don’t. Big Dems used to have the peons on their side. Perhaps some of the problem is indeed that they don’t remind those idiots who carry signs saying “Keep Government Out of My Medicare” just what is keeping them afloat. But if they don’t, it’s probably because they don’t really want informed voters either. Heaven knows if voters in this country were informed, there really would be Dick Cheney’s exploding heads in Washington.

Mike goes on to lay out what he calls the three Republican tenets:

1. The GOP cares solely and exclusively about its rich contributors.

Not exclusive to the GOP, Mike.

2. They worship at the altar of Mars.

Mike, President Peace Laureate has done nothing but expand America’s wars. Just who is the “low-information voter” here?

3. Give me that old time religion.

Yeah, that one probably fits the GOP much better than the Democrats. However, the Democrats cower to it and feel the need to promote themselves as believers any time the subject comes up, which is pretty much every time there’s any coverage of politics. They’re making sure those “low-information voters” know they’re Christians. (I have yet to see any of them from either party behave or vote or legislate like a Christian, with concern for their fellow man, and not for their coffers.)

I left [the GOP] because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country's future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them.

Half-hearted? How about the “pretense” of their attempts? How about their complete accord in many cases?

And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest. Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and "shareholder value," the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too.


If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshipping colleagues aren't after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté. They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be "forced" to make "hard choices" - and that doesn't mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked.

Oh! Now I see. Mike was a Republican as long as they were shafting the “low-information voters.” When, inevitably, the shaft drilled deeper and touched him, he decided it had gone far enough, and NOW he wants to warn you what they’re up to.

Thanks, Mike. I’m sure there are lots of “low-information voters” reading Truth Out.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

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