Thursday, December 06, 2012

Serious Problems for the GOP

     The current republican fiscal cliff infighting is more than just a routine intra-party feud. It is an indicator of irreconcilable differences between the two principal wings of the party.

     On one side we have the wealthy intellectual wing whose principal interest is maintaining a status quo that overwhelmingly benefits the top ten percent. Additionally, they would like to tweak the social safety net  in a manner that would  guarantee their aristocratic status for generations to come. These people are not wedded to their political positions and have already began to abandon those positions which threaten their political influence. From their perspective, immigration and tax issues are little more than bargaining chips. If their power is threatened they will jettison unpopular positions with little hesitation. That leaves us to discuss the ugly side of the party. The extremely angry, evangelical, ideologically hard right "working class and working poor" wing of the party. Additionally the libertarian wing can be bunched with this group but an argument can be made that they have always been in revolt. These people are as dedicated to their beliefs as they are wrong. They are anti-intellectual, ideologically rigid, and  politically ignorant. They will not hesitate to nominate candidates that are extreme to the point of absurdity such as Christine O'Donnell and Sharon Angle. They not only believe that these clown candidates have a legitimate chance of winning, they joyfully accept losing as a badge of honor because the losing candidate was sufficiently pure. This extremist attitude is deadly to a party.

John Boehner is now wedged between the two wings of the party with no passage to safety for either him or the party. He submitted an initial fiscal cliff proposal that was far too right wing for the Democrats to consider. This is not an unusual or irresponsible act for a party leader heading into expectantly tough negotiations. As could be easily predicted, the opposition rejected it as unreasonable and extreme. However, the reaction in his own party is an indicator of the GOP's structural problems. The conservative backlash was immediate and unrelenting. John Boehner is going to be forced to move to the left and accept some policies that neither he nor his base has any desire to support, yet his base is erupting in anger over his first proposal. A proposal which he already knows has no chance of being accepted. John Boehner is now a man on an island. Caught between an empowered Democratic President, a fiscal crisis which his party is surely to be blamed for, and a base which believes that compromise is heresy.

What does this all mean? In my opinion it means that the GOP is in very serious trouble. Their base is blind to changing demographic issues and determined to oust any GOP congress member that strikes a deal with the President. The final budget deal will almost certainly infuriate the GOP base to the point of revolt. Alternatively, failure to strike a deal will set the nation on course for a recession and doom the party to a broader revolt among democrats, moderate republicans, and independents. This could spell disaster for the party in the 2012 mid term elections. My best guess is that John Boehner cuts a deal with the President and the base goes rabid, calls for his head on a platter, and supports extremist primary opponents against the members who voted for the deal. Ultimately, we already know how that move ends. In some instances these extremist lose seats in districts that were almost guaranteed to go Republican and in others they win. We are then left with fewer GOP Congressman, and the ones who get elected are extreme beyond reasonable compromise. The party has been getting smaller and more extreme which has produced this dynamic..which will cause it to get smaller and more extreme...which will cause it to get smaller and..wait, are we noticing a pattern?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Right Wing Logic.......

1 -   The U.S. Government has given the wealthy massive tax cuts and lost millions of job, which means that tax cuts for the rich create jobs.

2 -   The GOP enacted massive tax cuts during the Bush Administration on borrowed money which ballooned the deficit. Upon retaking the House of Representatives, their first priority was to renew the massive tax cuts without paying for them. This means that they have learned their lesson about being fiscally irresponsible and running up the deficit.

3 -   Between 2001 and 2006 (when the GOP controlled Congress, the White house, and the Supreme Court) the deficit ballooned as a result of two unfunded wars and an unfunded Medicare prescription program, which means that the 2006-2008 Democratic Congress is to blame for the deficit created during the Bush Administration.

4 -   The United States was losing roughly 700,000 jobs per month when Barak Obama took the oath of office and this was halted within the first year of his Administration, which means that his policies caused the unemployment problem.

5 -   Ronald Reagan and both Bush's ballooned the deficit over 300% and Bill Clinton left office with a budget surplus, which means that Democrats are irresponsible spenders and Republicans are fiscally responsible.

5 -   The best way to help the poor, the working poor, and the working class, is to destroy the unions and give more money to the wealthy.

6 -   It was critical that we renew the Bush tax cuts which went overwhelmingly to the top 10% and added 750 billion dollars to the national debt, which means that the responsible thing to do is cut programs for the poor and working class because the national debt is out of control.

7 - The housing crisis was caused by poor people who wanted to own houses, not wealthy Wall Street tycoons.

8 -   Barak Obama was the first person of color to be elected to the White House and there have only been 3 Black senators since reconstruction, which means that The President's race is his greatest political advantage.

9 -   The world is experiencing weather extremes including floods and storms of near biblical proportions, which proves that climate change is a hoax.

10 -   The Wall Street bankers nearly destroyed the worldwide economy due to deregulation and nothing they did was illegal, which means that we need to reduce regulations in order to get the economy on track.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Who's to Blame, the GOP's Dilemma

While reviewing some video of a recent debate I engaged in with a GOP operative, I noticed an interesting exchange. When I mentioned President Bush's culpability for the economic crisis, my right wing adversary made the statement "isn't it time we stopped blaming Bush for everything." A somewhat modified version of this statement is quite popular in the mainstream media. The premise seems to be that after an unspecified amount of time, the argument that George W. Bush is responsible for the current financial crisis should be abandoned. This has been particularly effective when used during discussions concerning the current unemployment numbers.

The argument that there is some kind of amorphous statute of limitations for President Obama's predecessor is remarkably flawed. This would be problematic for those using that argument if it were ever challenged. Unfortunately, the mainstream pundits are too busy discussing this lunacy to question its validity. In order for this ridiculous concept to hold, either one of two lines of reasoning must be used. Their position must be that either "Obama caused it," or "Obama hasn't fixed it."

The first argument would be that the current unemployment numbers are the direct result of President Obama's policies. The obvious problem with this "he caused it" assertion is the actual numbers. The dramatic leaching of American jobs started well before Barack Obama took office. In each of the four months prior to President Obama's inauguration, this country lost over 500,000 jobs. Twelve months after President Obama's inauguration, the job losses had stopped and there was a net gain of jobs for the first month of 2010.

This smoothly transitions us to the second line of reasoning, that President Obama hasn't both stopped the job loss and regained enough jobs to lower the unemployment rate to an acceptable level, or the "he hasn't fixed it" argument. This is an argument that does nothing to benefit the GOP. If that is their assertion, it naturally contradicts the claims that President Obama is responsible for the jobless numbers and that we should absolve President Bush of responsibility for the entire mess. The "problem" when President Obama took office was the dramatic leaching of jobs, not the unemployment rate. The latter was a clearly result of the former. That being the case, the numbers demonstrate that he was very successful in stopping the problem he inherited.

The Republicans are masters of distorting and controlling the public debate. Unfortunately, what they are really bad governing the country.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Last Throes of the Confederacy

The ghost of the southern confederacy has raised its ugly head in a variety of ways as of late. Texas Governor Rick Perry spoke of secession, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell made a point of celebrating confederate history month while ignoring slavery, and most tellingly, Oklahoma lawmakers are considering raising a state militia to protect themselves from the policies of the Federal Government.   
     Referencing terms such as “Union and Confederacy” would seem over the top in this day and age were it not for the unusual developments in right wing political circles. We must also bare in mind that the Confederacy lost the Civil War, but won the peace in a variety of ways.  The most obvious confederate victory was that they were allowed to continue practicing social and economic apartheid for at least another hundred years. From the perspective of African Americans, the Civil War granted immediate relief from legal physical slavery but not much else. They were denied their constitutional rights as citizens, often worked as semi-slave sharecroppers, and suffered vicious brutality at the hands of right wing terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Less than 10% of Southern White citizens owned slaves so most southerners lost little, other than battle damaged property, as a result of the Union Victory. In fact, for many years after the Civil War, suppression of Black voters in the South allowed Southern whites to wield an inordinate amount of power in the Federal Government.  The “Gentlemen’s agreement” surrender at Appomattox is viewed as an armistice by modern day confederate sympathizers.
     The issue of race and the political dynamics of the ongoing metaphorical Confederate v. Union conflict are inseparable. The Civil War was almost entirely about slavery and almost all other peripheral issues such as state’s rights were related to slavery. Modern day confederates view the existence of an African American President as an assault on the informal armistice agreement which allows them to maintain their Southern culture of racism and privilege. Adding insult to injury, the new President comes into office speaking of a more perfect Union, swears in on Abe Lincoln’s bible, and maintains power alongside a female Speaker of the House and a Jewish Chief of Staff.  
     The Tea party movement is the modern incarnation of the Confederacy. When confronted with the opportunity, Tea Party protesters conspicuously singled out civil rights icon John Lewis for racial harassment and spit on another African American Member of Congress. As could be expected, the only other member of Congress singled out for direct attack was Jewish (Barney Frank).
     The brandishing of weapons at Presidential appearances, signs threatening gun violence, and the April 19th second amendment march are indications that confederate sympathizers view themselves as protectors of the southern culture and are likely poised for violence.  We should keep in mind that the original violent terrorists in the U.S. were the Southern KKK members who also viewed themselves as protectors of the southern culture. I believe that the media has been irresponsible in assigning the Tea Partiers unwarranted credibility and failing to adequately address the violent rhetoric.  We overlook the overt attempt at raising a new confederate militia at our own peril.