Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
An elephant may never forget, but the elephants of the GOP are sure hoping that you will, well, overlook a few inconvenient truths in their march to bring back 19th century capitalism without a social safety net. Sadly, so does the media caught between the story and an epic pay day.
Their vested interest and power, without regard to consequence or the welfare of the nation, is only countered by you.
“One of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”
So says Thomas Mann and Norman Orenstein, surprisingly without partisan rhetoric, in their new book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the Politics of Extremism.” Orenstein is actually a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, not known for its liberal leanings.
Political parties in this country have not been so polarized since the Civil War. Race again has a great deal to do with why the modern GOP’s intransigence is working, in spite of repeated polling that shows the majority of Americans, even registered Republicans, out of step with the Teahadis in Congress and state legislatures.
To win over the portion of the independent vote not already anti-Obama because they believe he’s a Kenyan Socialist (e.g. scary Black-Man-in-Chief), the GOP, aided by the mainstream media, are going to press for Americans to “forget.”
Hoping You Forget: Government can do important things that we need as a community.
Business doesn’t hum without best-of-class roads and bridges and schools. Unprofitable things in and of themselves that are investments in our infrastructure which for-profit entities should never operate. Bridges are not profitable. Feeding kids a breakfast so they get a minimal enough level of nutrition to learn is not profitable. Charity, beyond its usual strings, has never been able to meet the needs of Americans in need, particularly in times of crisis, like the Great Depression, or the Great Recession.
The corporatocracy that has dominated this country through most of its history lost its balance momentarily in 2008 when Wall Street came tumbling down and most corporate boardrooms went into survival mode.
The Internet came of age at the same time, spawning things like Twitter, populist media over which they had no control.
In walked Barack Obama preaching the notion, to an America that had watched the Middle Class shrink in one of the greatest times of plenty in American history, that government could do good things, big things, in balance and harmony with private enterprise.
Americans were so angry with that corporatocracy for robbing us blind while the billions that were touted to “trickle down” never actually did, that they rose above 331 years of generational fear and elected a black man to the White House. A man who preached moderation and non-partisanship.
President Obama’s push for non-partisanship was a bust, because, as Mann and Orenstein point out, the GOP has taken a winner-takes-all, no compromise approach to governance as long as he is in office.
Cede the black guy NO GROUND, even when many of the proposals that he floated were ones that Republicans themselves have made in recent years.
Remember: Government, like Wall Street, can swing towards excess, but, with adequate checks and balances, both are necessary and have their role.
Hoping You Forget: The Debt comes largely from two wars, and tax cuts for the rich and big business.
The majority of our mounting deficits come from tax breaks to the rich.
Obama has slowed the political and financial hemorrhaging of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they only account for 1.33 Trillion of our debt.
The proposals to balance the Federal budget on the backs of the poor and working people are just dead wrong, according to Think Progress, which released this infographic:
The GOP wants to take a hatchet to $381.5B of programs, without touching the $830B of tax cuts that are the single biggest form of public assistance in this country. Add in taxes on Big Oil that the GOP also voted down, and their windfall profits would be bringing in about $2.4B a year in revenues to offset the deficits.
Earlier this week, Republicans derailed a student loan bill to keep rates down on undergraduate education set to expire in a couple of months.  The vote was the 21st successful filibuster of a Democratic bill by the GOP in the Congressional session since January 2011. The bill was killed because the Democrats proposed funding the student loans in part with money from restoring taxes on the rich and Big Oil. Many of the swing voters were, as you might guess, from oil states.
It’s not even arguable that the rich got richer over the last twenty years. The middle class has shrunk. If we keep to Republican dogma, the rich will get richer and the rest of us?
Remember: The Republicans are not only out of step with the majority of Americans on tax fairness, but, with a combination of some government reform with additional revenue, we could decrease the deficit over $1T a year, and keep essential services for 28.75M people, not swimming pools for 200,000 people.
Hoping You Forget: The Recovery Worked
Look around: No soup kitchens. No bread lines. Unemployment isn’t good, but it’s not 21 million more people who would have been out of work had Mitt Romney’s plan to let the Big Three die rolled out.
From the construction of bridges in Maine to road expansions in Florida we are spending money on public works projects, many of which are just rolling out now as they work their way through the years-long vetting and bidding processes that are supposed to eliminate waste.
The stock market is back to its robust highs, although there is nervousness about what Europe may bring in the coming months. The jobs number slowly improves. Fewer people are falling into trouble with their mortgages, and home prices are rising in enough areas that they’re no longer pushing the value of a home under what is owed.
Remember: Things take a bit longer to fix than they do to break.
Hoping You Forget: President Obama is Not a Big G Government Liberal
If anything, his repeated attempts to seek consensus with the Hard Right, and his centrist policy, made it more difficult to govern.
What he has repeatedly proposed, though, his vision of limited government doing the support and infrastructure things that make American business soar, has been mainstream thinking from Ike to Obama.
Last summer, as we waded through the debt “crisis,” Mr. Obama put out on the table big, painful cuts near and dear to Democrats. Things that the Republicans had wanted for years, if not decades. They still walked away.
Remember: The GOP’s partisan gaming that has defied common sense and good governance.
Hoping You Forget: Republican Heel Dragging Damaged the Economy and Kept the Jobless Jobless.
Another arena where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner did everything that they could to prevent any kind of “win” for the President was jobs.
Even when that meant policy that hurt working Americans who vote for the Republicans, among others.
The GOP cried “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” but legislated against unions, and for their holy roller constituencies war on social issues, trying to curb LGBT rights and women’s rights.
Their stabs at fiscal reform have been the many so-called “Ryan” plans. They are Congressman Paul Ryan’s thinly veiled attempts to add even more tax breaks to the 1%’s bottom line, while sacking social safety net programs.
GOP mouthpieces claimed that the Ryan plans would create jobs, but even the Congressional Budget Office found that to be a head shaker.
Hoping You Forget: Using Economic Crises to Slash Payrolls While Telling Teahadis Tales.
GOP backers hoarded the capital put into the recovery. It never “trickled down” to middle class America.
The aid given to banks, aimed at restructuring loans and reducing the pain of the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression, was kept by the banks to pad out their bottom line, and allow their high-stakes, emperor-has-no-clothes “leveraging” games to continue.
CEOs of some of America’s biggest companies used the pretense of the economic crisis in many cases to lay people off.Among all the Fortune 1,000 companies, nearly four-hundred CEOs got bonuses in 2008, the bottom of the Great Recession. They took home $402 million in annual bonus pay, according to Equilar, an executive compensation research firm including bonuses for many for laying off workers who would have been paid with that money. 
Corporate America became not only tone-deaf, but heartless.
The key players who move the economy have hoarded money to this day, hoping that the prolongation of the misery index will force the political pendulum even harder Right, as the public has been indoctrinated to believe that Republicans solve all fiscal issues, in spite of the reality bitch-slap of the prosperity of the Clinton era and the freewheeling spending of the George W. Bush Administration.
Remember: There are a handful of people and companies with so much money that their actions shape the market. Identify them. Don’t fund their ambitions with your purchases.
Hoping You Forget: What War on Women? The latest spin out of both the Romney camp and the GOP hierarchy on Capital Hill is that the “war on women” is a Liberal myth.
Has the GOP been horribly misunderstood? Hardly. They want you to have an ultrasound fairy godmother, who waives her magic wand around your uterus and makes you watch. Their think tanks spin out policy positions for the Teahadis that weaken or eliminate equal pay legislation. No need for the red tape. Wall Street types say that we’re in a different time, not through any help from them, mind you. The government, they figure, doesn’t need to keep an eye on them. They can handle things like equal pay and equal rights on their own.
Doesn’t their track record on this just scream integrity?
Remember: Their constituencies want women in the home, not in the workplace, and subservient to men.
Hoping You Forget: The power of the media and the vested interest in maintaining profitable strife favors Republican intransigence: More than once you’ve heard someone in the media tell you that laws like Stand Your Ground are good business an industry like the gun industry. What they kind of neglect to mention is that they’re also good business for the media.
Conflict is the grist of selling soap these days, not responsible journalism that restores balance to to political system. Allowing extremism to fester unchecked, failing to be the real Fourth Estate and fully expose bad ideas and extreme ideology, is really good business for a reporter or pundit’s bosses, their media outlet, and the corporations that own most of that media.
Oh, and this: Most of our media is owned by the very people whom the media should be watching.
It’s also good business for the New Media as well. Every time you click on a campaign page and a “cookie” is registered that you visited, say Barack Obama’s page, that’s gold for everyone from the Huffington Post to Facebook to the New York Times who find that cookie on your computer and use it to deliver “targeted” advertising to you.
Campaign 2012 shapes up to be a $6B+ pay day for media of all kinds. From the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity anti-Obama ads to the pro-Obama, anti-Romney ads, the media wins as long as the race stays close. That shatters objective journalism, and most investigative journalism. It even skews the all-powerful polling number. All of it generates the money by manipulating the power.
Remember: You have control of your eyeballs. Stations that air advertisements that you don’t like deserve the channel changer. Write your station manager and tell them that you won’t watch their news or programming if they air the ads of the Kochs and others.
Hoping You Forget: You’ve already been told how you should feel about the political process. Haven’t you been paying attention?
The narrative mantras that get repeated in commercials and then carried like bubonic plague through the rats in the media maze, is that you are supposed to be angry at both parties. You’re supposed to be angry that the whole system doesn’t work. You’re supposed to throw up your hands in frustration and then vote against your self-interest, as you did in 2010 when that well-placed lie lead to the Teahadi takeover of Congress and a number of state houses in the mid-terms.
Yet their solutions, such as the Vote the Bums In movement of 2010, have been abject failures.
The political process is broken. Make no mistake about it. The solution is a hard one: Independent fiscal conservatives need to return to the Republican Party and take control away from Grover Norquist and the Teahadis, and the rest of us can’t reward the representatives of the richest Americans and American corporations with our votes.
Divided government only works when it’s reasonable divided government. Divided does not mean polarized. We can have our positions, and agree to disagree, but compromise has been the bedrock of American government for generations. It’s time we started doing more of it.
My shiny two.