Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’
Ok, I am now going to say what I believe at least 85% of American Jews believe deep down, and I say this as a Jewish American. “Jewish Republican” is an oxymoron. Yes, there are those who claim to be Jewish Republicans but either 1) they aren’t really Republicans or 2) they aren’t really Jewish. How can I make a statement of this sort with the likes of Sheldon Adelson and Eric Cantor running around, and with all of those Jewish neo-cons who gave such poor advice to W about Iraq? I simply dismiss them. They are lost souls. Their souls have been stolen from them. No one whose ancestors escaped the pharaoh can actually be a Republican.
But I have a more compelling argument. Sheldon Adelson and something called the Jewish Republican Coalition are placing these billboards along highways in Florida.
Now here is a simple thought experiment that will reveal just how out of touch these people are. Imagine Mitt Romney, the candidate these folks are supporting, uttering the words, “Obama…Oy Vey!” Any real Jewish American would be on their sides in stitches at the thought. Laughter that would wake the dead. And how could one not imagine Mitt trying to say Oy Vey after seeing these billboards along major highways?
So here is my proof that at least these Jewish Republicans can’t actually be Jewish. They have a lousy sense of humor. They think this billboard is cute. But it actually manages to be tacky, tasteless, crude, and funny (in spite of what they intended). Oy Vey.
[I am not alone. See, Yiddish Curses for GOP Jews.]
When the Normans conquered a region of present day Italy in the eleventh century they engaged in extortion. They would start to burn the crops of the natives and then demand payment for putting the fire out.
This form of extortion parallels what the citizens of the U.S. face today from the GOP, with one noteworthy exception. You see, they helped create the economic mess that we have been in, that is, they set the fire. They did so through deregulating Wall Street and the banks, along with lax enforcement of existing regulations, which led the economy to tank at the end of the Bush years. (Yes, the Democrats did go along with some of these measures but the initiative to deregulate Wall Street and the banks has been based on Republican dogma.) But unlike the Normans, they can’t put the fire out. For the tools they would use to extinguish the fire are the same ones that helped start it in the first place.
Now you say this is unfair. The Normans intended to extort by setting the fires. The Republicans believed that what they were doing was good for the economy. They did not plan to extort. Fair enough. But we have now reached a point in which it doesn’t really matter what the Republicans’ intentions were or are. The fact is that they set the fire and they want to use the same flame thrower to put it out.
What does this actually amount to for us non-wealthy folk? We will have less protections against various kinds of fires, for example, illness, unemployment, lack of resources for retirement, etc. And we will be asked to pay more for any protections that are left. We will be told that this isn’t so by the GOP. They will tell us that by lowering taxes and deregulating we will unleash the as yet unleashed forces of the market. Well, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. There are no free lunches. As the vast majority of experts on the economy will tell you, we can’t get out of our current fiscal situation without prudent entitlement policies and new taxes. This was the recommendation of the Simpson Bowles Commission, a recommendation which free market fanatics like Ryan helped tank because it suggested new taxes (although Ryan dishonestly has tried to blame Obama).
If the GOP wins this election and manages to push through more deregulation and tax cuts, especially for corporations and the rich, we and our children will end up having to pay more to cover the enormous debt and suffering that will be created by these policies. We will have to pay for the fire that they have started, once again.
An UP@NIGHT exclusive. UP@NIGHT has learned that Clint Eastwood originally intended to have two or possibly even three empty chairs during his address to the Republican convention. We have all seen the chair that he used for the imaginary Obama. Eastwood thought that he might also have an imaginary Romney sitting next to Obama. Here is the very chair that was selected for the imaginary Romney by his associates at Bain Capital.
In addition, UP@NIGHT has also learned that Eastwood not only toyed with the idea of a third seat, he had selected one for an imaginary Ryan, although he was persuaded not to use it because the GOP thought it might be taken as a statement about his budget.
Around 1:30 this afternoon the two headlines below appeared on The New York Times. You would think that the Republicans might give the abortion debate a rest for a few days after rightly criticizing Akin’s perverse comments this past weekend. But no, they have marched right along. We must ban abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. I believe that I have a good grasp of the arguments in the abortion debate. I am pro choice but I do not dismiss the moral claims of those who are anti-abortion. It’s a serious moral and religious issue. But what we are getting from the GOP transcends the debate. It’s another sign of the GOP’s ideological come hell or high water thinking.
By JONATHAN WEISMAN and JOHN W. ELIGON 21 minutes ago
In a new ad, Representative Todd Akin asked voters in Missouri to forgive him for making comments on abortion that have fellow Republicans calling on him to drop out of the race.
By MICHAEL COOPER18 minutes ago
A Republican committee called for a Constitutional amendment outlawing abortion with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Ryan has been opposed to abortion, including in cases of rape and incest, except to save the life of the mother. This weekend in reaction to Akin, Romney declared his ticket’s position, abortion should be banned, but exceptions should be made for rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. This is not Ryan’s position and it isn’t the GOP’s position. Keep your eye on how Ryan handles the issue. For example, will Ryan now say that he has changed his mind or avoid the issue by saying that he is not at the top of the ticket? His ultra conservative followers are watching.
I have been trying to figure out the Republican obsession with taxes. Yes, I know that they present their case to cut and cut more, especially the taxes of the wealthiest Americans, as part of a grand economic scheme to save the country. But something isn’t right here. And I am not referring to the screwy economic assumptions that one has to make in order to make the case that more tax cuts are the answer to our economic woes.
There is peculiar passion to Ryan and Co.’s beliefs that transcends the economic. But what could be responsible for it? After months of perplexity I finally discovered the ticket when I recalled the claims made about death panels and Obamacare. When I first heard them I thought they were merely cynical, right-wing, hyperbole meant to mislead the American public about a program to comfort and support the dying. I have since thought more deeply. They were no accident. They were not merely tactical. They revealed something deeper and far more perverse: a quest to overcome death.
We all know about death and taxes. No way to avoid either one. Now suppose that because of this association, one you have heard about your entire life, you start to confuse their relationship. You start to think that one (taxes) causes the other (death). You start to believe if you could avoid one, you should be able to avoid the other. You might even start to think that taxes don’t just cause death, they are death–after all, don’t they deny the sweet freedom of life? Voilà It’s clear. Republicans have come to believe that the Fountain of Youth lies in ending taxes. Hence, they would expect the party of death and taxes, the Democrats, to set up death panels. While they, the party of life, will never accept any new taxes, for to do so is surely to die.
So here’s the story: We know that people have long sought a Fountain of Youth to stave off death. A demonic huckster named Grover Norquist promised the Republicans the Fountain in the form of The Pledge. All they would have to do is sign a pledge that they will never raise taxes and they could live free and not die. They signed. Many of us thought that they signed because Grover was in a position to threaten their political lives. But looked at more deeply, more truly, it was never the threat of political death that Grover used. It was the promise of eternal life. How else to explain their crazed obsession with cutting taxes except the fear of death itself?
You say that I am stretching things. That this is psycho-babble. I say, just look a Republican in the eye when he is talking about lowering taxes, look Paul Ryan in the eye, and you tell me if you don’t see the denial of death. And then hear them tell their story: Obama and his party created death panels. We reject their panels. We promote life. The right to life. Join us. Sign.
Today the Republicans in the Senate blocked passage of a bill to prevent the doubling of the interest rate on Stafford Student Loans. Here is a brief excerpt from today’s NY Times on the topic:
Republicans said they wanted to extend Democratic legislation passed in 2007 that temporarily reduced interest rates for the low-or middle-income undergraduates who receive subsidized Stafford loans to 3.4 percent from 6.8 percent.
But they oppose the Senate Democrats’ proposal to pay for a one-year extension by changing tax law that currently allows some wealthy taxpayers to avoid paying Social Security and Medicare taxes by classifying their pay as dividends, not cash income.
And why do they oppose the proposal? Because closing these loopholes will raise taxes on people who allegedly create jobs. In other words, by closing these loopholes in Social Security and Medicare we will slow the recovery. I kid you not. This is actually the Republican position.
“They want to raise taxes on people who are creating jobs when we are still recovering from the greatest recession since the Great Depression,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, who instead wanted to pay for it by eliminating a preventive health care fund in President Obama’s health care law.
This is such palpable nonsense it is hard to believe that anyone can say it with a straight face. Right, closing loopholes for wealthy folks on Social Security and Medicare is going to slow down the engine of economic growth.
I realize that I am venting here but it seems to me that the Republicans on taxes have either become ideological fanatics, who simply can’t see that the evidence is not on their side. Or they are absolutely committed to protecting the wealth of their donor base at all costs to the country. Or perhaps undermining Obama’s health care initiative is such a priority they will give any excuse. Or all of the above.
In any case, this points to an even more serious problem. Extreme differences in income are seriously problematic on numerous levels for democratic societies. The indebtedness of students is one piece of the puzzle of the ever increasing inequality bubble in America. We can go on like this for several more years, I suppose. Perhaps decades. But this is no way to ensure the flourishing of this society over the long term. Our children, and our children’s children, will pay for this fanatical pursuit of a form of “free” market capitalism that is simply out of date in the twenty-first century.
Misrepresenting a person’s words or actions in order to score a political point is a form of lying. Of course we know that political ads do this sort of thing regularly. It’s wrong but no one can do much to stop it. And there appears to be no limit to how far political operatives are willing to go, for example, distorting the presentation of a lawyer arguing a case before the Supreme Court. Here is an excerpt from a recently published article from Bloomberg, “Republicans Tampered With Court Audio in Obama Attack Ad.”
In the web ad circulated yesterday, the Republican National Committee excerpts the opening seconds of the March 27 presentation of Obama’s top Supreme Court lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, in which he is heard struggling for words and twice stopping to drink water.
Obamacare,” the ad concludes, in words shown against a photograph of the high court. “It’s a tough sell.”
A review of a transcript and recordings of those moments shows that Verrilli took a sip of water just once, paused for a much briefer period, and completed his thought, rather than stuttering and trailing off as heard in the edited version.
The ad marks a blurring of the line between the law and politics, in which the nation’s highest court — and the justices and lawyers who decide and argue cases — are becoming fodder for Republicans’ and Democrats’ arguments over the validity of the president’s signature domestic legislative achievement.
RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer said the video was a “mash-up” condensing and splicing together several separate pauses and stutters by Verrilli during the first two minutes of his argument, produced to illustrate how much difficulty he had had defending the health-care law.
“Are there multiple clips in that video? Yes,” Spicer said. “The point was that he continually had to stop because he was having trouble making the case for why Obamacare was valid.”
The Bloomberg piece goes on to say,
Recordings of the court proceedings reviewed by Bloomberg News reveal that the audio has been edited. While Verrilli paused once to drink water during the opening moments of his presentation, he stopped talking for only a few seconds before continuing with his argument. In the RNC ad, he pauses for about 20 seconds, coughs, sips water and stutters.
Just think about Spicer’s defense of his ad. It was a “mash up,” as if this is some sort of justification for manipulating the historical record. One can easily imagine Spicer saying, “Hey, all we were doing was making Verrilli appear to be falling over his own words by changing the timing and length of his pauses and stutters. What’s the big deal? He should have been stuttering given what he was defending. If I think that an opponent shouldn’t be able to make a clear argument, what’s the problem in making him appear as if he can’t?”
We are in serious trouble. A democracy can only take so much distortion from propagandists representing major political parities– with huge sums of money to finance their machinations. It’s bound to lead to boundless cynicism. People will just tune out, turn off, and drop out. But perhaps that’s ultimately the goal of the game: a population so fatigued by a system that leaves them faceless and impotent they will just let the “professionals” run the show. Men like Sean Spicer, who like their ties with power knots.
Yes, as it turns out, the deal that Obama cut with the Republicans is not as bad as it could have been. They could have gotten away with the kitchen sink, that is, cuts in medicaid and social security without any tax increases for the wealthy. But instead the Republicans will be getting cuts that won’t really hit the economy until 2013, and medicaid and social security are safe from arbitrary cuts, for now. Perhaps we should be thankful, especially given the state of the economy.
But I don’t feel thankful. I feel like the American people got rolled. The Tea Party activists set the agenda and then engaged in blackmail. Cut now or else…and of course no increase in taxes on the wealthy. Yet without a revenue increase there isn’t a way to bring down the debt that won’t also bring down (almost all of) the American people. But most thoughtful Americans know that we can’t get out of this economic morass through some magic bullet on the reduction side. Most Americans wanted a deal that included budget cuts and revenue increases.
So what happened? Obama and Co. made a set of calculations: Better to give in now and (perhaps) fight another day when there isn’t a sword of Damocles hanging over the country. They assumed that the political costs could be contained. Independents will blame Congress more than the president. And upset Democrats will eventually fall in line. After all, where can they go in 2012? (As I write the House just voted to pass the “compromise” bill on the debt ceiling. Most Republicans voted for it. The Democrats split.) Last but not least, The White House welcomed not having to deal with a new economic crisis.
It all sounds so reasonable and politically expedient. But they may have miscalculated. Take me for instance. I have been a strong supporter of the president. I have viewed his deep (philosophical) pragmatism as a virtue. I never assumed that he was an old-fashioned liberal. I thought he had mildly progressive leanings but was quite capable of centrist or even center right positions. Given our time and place in American history, this was about as much as one could expect out of a Democratic Party nominee. I also liked that fact that he sought to play long ball. That he seemingly wasn’t looking for superficial or quick balms. And that he had the intelligence to play long ball.
But you can’t play long ball (in politics) unless you can move the ball. Or better still, unless you can convince your teammates and the fans that you can do so. What we have seen in this latest round is Obama drawing a line in the sand and then hopping over it when it looked like he might actually have to fight a serious battle. And it was a very important battle. The extortion that took place was not solely about getting the government to spend less. It was about setting an agenda. It was about how Americans understand who and what are responsible for the rut we are in, and who is responsible for helping to dig us out.
Corporations are sitting on mountains of cash. And as the chart above shows, the rich continue to do exceptionally well. Income and wealth disparities are becoming chasms. Yes, we have had fine words from the White House about this. But words are no substitute for actions, unless the words themselves are actions. Obama should have called the Republicans’ bluff. He should have said, ‘you want a default, go ahead and don’t compromise. Go ahead and insist on no new revenues from the wealthy. You will answer to the American people. You will even have to answer to Wall Street when the Market sinks or crashes. And you know what, you will have to answer to me.’ (He could have let them believe early on that he just might invoke the 14th Amendment if he got angry enough. Instead he gave this bargaining chip away.)
Obama should have come into office declaring a national state of emergency. He should have not promised to lower the unemployment rate with “traditional” measures. He should have emphasized that unemployment was actually much higher than the “official” figures, closer to 16%-20%. He should have used the fierce urgency of now to enact emergency measures. He should have done this when he was riding high.
Yes, I know. This is all history now. It’s water under the bridge. It’s Monday morning quarterbacking. Yet it is still relevant. If Obama doesn’t draw a tighter connection between what he he says and what he does, he may win reelection but his presidency will never be known for great things. He will be the president who helped us muddle through our declining place in the world, instead of the one who assisted us in confronting the economic and political realities of the 21st century.
After a taking a hiatus from blogging, I thought that I wanted to return with a some sort of scathing political commentary, filled with wit and an almost adolescent exuberance. But then I spied this billboard along the West Side Highway. I was horrified. The Birthers had infiltrated the heart of New York City, my town, and were in the process of disenfranchising the place. Never again would we vote in a national election. Never again would someone from the five boroughs become president. We aren’t in America.
But then I reconsidered. More likely this was the work of an insidiously clever Republican operative. He knows that Donald Trump is a danger to the Republican chances in 2012, if only because of the hair, which looks just like his half brother’s (this is not intended to be a factual statement), the very former governor of Illinois. You know, what’s his name, Blagojevich. If only natural born Americans can run for president, and if New Yorkers are not Americans, then as a native New Yorker Trump can’t run for president. QED And every Birther, including Trump, would have to agree.
A further clue to this dastardly mischief is supplied by one word from a sibling billboard.
Although there is much evidence to support the operative hypothesis, I grant that it could be wrong. It would require the operative to be too clever by half, and judging by the recent budget that the Republicans put forward, we can’t assume that anyone in the GOP has the extra half going for them. So who did the deed? It’s possible, just possible, it was a New Yorker with some extra attitude
Oh, I can understand why New Yorkers might have attitude. After all, why would they have put Times Square, the Empire State Building, King Kong, Broadway, the UN, Wall Street, Steven Colbert, Lincoln Center, Batman, Superman, the Statue of Liberty, and the Yankees (of course), etc., here if this wasn’t actually the center of the planet? Why else would “New Directions,” the club from Glee, have to travel to New York to compete in the national finals? And let’s face it, when the ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, everything else is just anti-climatic.
But just because NYC might be the center of the planet doesn’t mean it isn’t in the United States. Where else would it be? So let’s be clear. The sign should have read, “If you leave New York, you will have to live somewhere else in America.” Unless of course there is a Republican operative out there who is too clever by half.
We will remain vigilant at UP@NIGHT.
This is a, “I told you so” blog. I have been arguing here and in other venues that Obama is a philosophical pragmatist and not just a political one. At his press conference yesterday, in which he defended his compromise with the Republicans over taxes, he directly confronted a question about his core values. He specifically placed his values in a wider framework, one that is clearly congenial to philosophical pragmatism.
Why is this important? We need to understand the man if we are going to be able to work effectively for change. Obama has a set of values that one might call “progressive” (and other values that might be termed “moderate” or even mildly conservative). He is going to act on his (mostly) progressive views within a broader framework, which is his commitment to philosophical pragmatism. This is not a sell out. It is not a weakness in itself. It is different from what we have seen in quite some time. (This is NOT merely Bill Clinton’s political pragmatism, for example.) Listen to how Obama defends his initiatives by citing the history of social security in the clip below. There is passion here. And not the passion of someone defending a merely expedient outcome. His commitment to pragmatism may often make him appear more conservative than he actually is. For him, it’s about getting the best outcomes over the long term. This is not to say that he hasn’t made tactical errors or errors in judgment and timing. He certainly has. It’s only to place his specific values in a broader context.
For those interested in learning more about the connection between Obama and pragmatism, there is James T. Kloppenberg’s new book, Reading Obama. The Afterword to my new book, Transcendence: On Self-Determination and Cosmopolitanism (Stanford) is on-line. It discusses Obama’s pragmatism. There is also the web site Barack Obama’s Pragmatism.