Monday, September 10, 2012

Why Congress will remain in GOP control in 2013

Even in the face of the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by a handful of angry white aging billionaires in this campaign, the President has a chance of reelection because he commands national attention even without funding. He can make the news almost daily from now to November.

Not so with Joe Blow Congressman from Some Small State, running for reelection. For the billionaires to swamp President Obama's voice with their well-financed bullhorn is nearly impossible. But it's a snap for the Angry Billionaires' Club to bury congressmen--even including many state senators--out of their petty cash fund. And since it's legal to lie in political ads, and also legal to keep your involvement secret (so major corporations can conceal their meddling in politics), the ABC can and will target vulnerable congressmen across the country with libelous campaigns--including dirty tricks like chain emails and telephone "push polls" like they used to bury John McCain in 2000--and do it in last-minute banzai charges that give Democrats and moderate Republicans guilty of ever cooperating with Democrats very little change of surviving.

So even if President Obama is re-elected he will face an intransigent Republican House majority and either Senate majority or submajority (i.e. enough Republican senators to block nearly all confirmations and legislation through preventing majority votes).

Meaning you should vote for Romney if you think there's nothing worse than gridlock in our Capitol--or for Obama if you think efficient achievement of Republican aims is even worse than gridlock.

Those aims start with repealing ObamaCare in its entirely. Governor Romney is making the rounds saying he'd keep various parts of it. He won't, because that's not up to him. A Republican Congress with a 51 vote Senate majority will use an arcane process called reconciliation to send him a blanket repeal of ObamaCare in toto. Do you seriously think he'd veto that? He would sign it, fulfilling his tacit promise to the Republican base to do as Grover Norquist said--sit in the White House and stay out of Norquist's way, signing all Republican legislation sent him without making a peep. All a President Romney would need to have is a functioning right arm and enough neurons to guide it through a signature.

It is unlikely for the ABC to manufacture enough votes to give the Senate a veto-proof majority. Which means a Democratic president would be able to force Congress to compromise--just as Clinton forced the intransigent Newt Gingrich Congress to play ball, even though Clinton had to call the GOP's bluff and bring most federal functions to a halt for a period of time.

So if it goes one way, control of America will pass to Congress, but actually to the ABC; if it goes the other way, we'll get four years of pitched battles between a Congress that believes compromise is immoral and a President who has nothing to lose by blocking them. At the very least it would be entertaining to watch this kind of unstoppable force-immovable object Kabuki dance play out...

"I'm not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans, or to heal the planet. I'm here to help the American people."

Governor Romney repeated this "joke" about climate change during his first non-Fox "News" interview. He'd first used this trope during his acceptance speech at the GOP convention.

Obviously he wants to make it clear that in his opinion 98% of the world's climate scientists are lying--or that even if they aren't, it doesn't matter, because it's happening slowly enough that most Americans who are voters today won't be affected. Sure, their kids may be shafted, but apparently the "I've got mine Jack you're on your own" philosophy applies to Republicans' children and grandchildren as well.

This makes sense--as I recall surveys of the Republican base reveal anger and resentment at not just non-Anglo Americans of all ages but at even younger white people, who many of the GOP base consider to be lazy moochers full of entitlement.

So for the Republican Party, the threat of global climate change and ocean levels rising is a punchline used to ridicule Democrats.

Hmmm. I wonder what they think of that in the swing state that's mostly right at sea level?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The GOP's Lie du Jour: no God in Demo Platform

We should expect a shocking new revelation about those terrible Democrats pretty much daily from now through the election.

Yesterday's shocking revelation was that the word "God" doesn't appear in the Democratic Party platform. As proof that this went against the Founding Fathers' zeitgeist, they presented the Constitution--oops, no God there anywhere--so they presented the Declaration of Independence as our "founding document."

Oops again. The word "God" never appears there either. But what does appear is language that clearly refers to God--"endowed by our Creator."

So it appears that I'm splitting hairs to make a point, since the absence of the word "God" is actually irrelevant, since the reference to religious faith is there.

Well. So are the Republicans, because the Democratic Platform did include language talking about "faith" which clearly referred to God.

And so here again, for the umpty-zillionith time, the Republicans say something that is technically not a lie, but which is in fact a knowing, bald-faced lie--because the substance of the Republicans' charge is false.

If you care about substance, you will agree that this is yet another proof that the Republican Party has chosen lying as its main vehicle to advance its fortunes.

The Democrats are, as a whole, more secular than the Republicans, as a whole. Before the takeover of the Republican Party by erstwhile Southern White Democrats in the 1970s, there actually were many Republicans who were either nonreligious or whose religion wasn't the fervent Bible-thumping flavor of religion that now characterizes the Republican majority. Now they're either Independents or conservative Democrats.

But while Democrats are less fervent than today's Republicans, the vast majority of Democrats still profess to believe in God, and their party's platform reflected their faith--their calmer faith that doesn't say "You're going to Hell if you aren't not just a Christian but my kind of Christian."

In that sense many Republican Christians resemble Muslim Salafists, who say the same thing about hundreds of millions of their fellow Muslims that Fundamentalist Christians say of their fellow non-Fundamentalist Christians.

Also, this latest Republican lie also shows the Republicans' preference for symbols over reality. They never ask whether their own platform embodies Christ's instructions to us about what we should do with this life--in which case the Democratic Platform is far more Christlike than the Republicans' "I've got mine Jack you're on your own" platform.

But for the Republican Party, symbol trumps substance. Goes hand in hand with lying trumping actual policy discussion.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

President Obama is trying to evade responsibility for what happened on his watch!

The Republican campaign to oust President Obama from office (as opposed to trying to elect their guy--and that's what it boils down to if you watched the RNC convention, as I did) today is scoffing at the Democrats for trying to avoid the question "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

This is a question which itself tries to avoid the real question, namely "are you better off than you would have been under Republican control of the government?"

But let's take them at their word, even though their word is deceptive propaganda when it isn't lying outright. And their word is that whoever's president is responsible for whatever happens on his watch.

OK. Then let's talk about 9/11, which happened on the Republicans' watch.

And when it did, the Republicans instantly claimed it wasn't their fault. Their guy had only been in office for 9 months. The Kenya embassy bombing, the Cole bombing, Blackhawk Down (also an Al Qaeda action, it turns out), Al Qaeda's declaration of war on America, the security establishment's constant efforts to get the administration to take Al Qaeda seriously, the specific intel about using airliners as weapons? Naaaw.

See, war against nonstate entitities requires trained personnel, international cooperation, and relatively inexpensive warmaking technology (such as UAVs). War against major nations means multibillion-dollar weapons systems like the military-industrial complex likes to build, and you don't have to make nice to people who aren't Republican voters in America.

After 9/11, our spooks found it had come from within Afghanistan, so after sending a token force there--and make no mistake, that's what it was--the Republicans went to war with a real nation, which did require those expensive weapons systems (to a degree), in the face of zero actual evidence that Iraq had had anything to do with it. And after it became obvious that Iraq wasn't "it," the Republicans proceeded to throw up a smokescreen of history-revision so they wouldn't have to take responsibility for the thousands of American deaths on their hands and hundreds of thousands of foreign deaths also on their hands.

IF the American president is responsible for everything on his watch, and if excuses are not to be accepted...I await the Republican mea culpa for 9/11 and the Iraq war that ensued.

I won't hold my breath.

Because the Republicans aren't about taking responsibility. They're about blaming others for their own mistakes.

This leads to not learning from one's mistakes. Hence Romney's promise to revive Bush II's ham-handed cowboy diplomacy (in stark contrast to his father's adroit use of foreign alliances). Not to mention promising to revive trickle-down economics, which is a proven oxymoron. It even includes directing our hostile attention back to the Soviet Uni--er, Russia--you know, the country we have to beg rides from to get our astronauts into space since Bush II terminated the Space Shuttle without initiating its replacement?

The is how the Republicans' tag team president/veep wannabes have earned the sobriquet "Retro Romney and Lyin' Ryan."

Here's where I could lay into the Democrats for this, that and the other. But I won't, because right now nothing the Democrats could do with their guy in the White House is more than a blip compared to the damage the Republicans will do, given their control of Congress and the Judiciary. The Republicans' real goal is a one-party country; their model, Mexico's PRI, which ruled Mexico for 40 years, from one rigged election to the next. The GOP has become an entity that asks its members to have greater fealty to their party than to their country. They are precisely what President Washingon warned the nation about in his parting address, when he talked about the danger of factions.

So while I have plenty of beefs with the Democrats, it's time to saddle up and do what we can to keep President Obama in the White House. We won't get his policies--not with such an intransigent Congress--but at least we won't get the Republicans' middle-class-destroying policies.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Did you ever have a boss who took credit for your work? Then you understand Mitt Romney

Governor Romney's signature achievement is his rescue of the Salt Lake City Olympics. His. He built it, all by himself.

What rescued the Salt Lake City Olympics, far more than anything else, was your $1,500,000,000 gift to the organization, through your tax dollars.

Yet during his election campaign Mitt Romney has never acknowledged your (collectively) immense contribution to that rescue.

So is that crummy boss who makes you work nights and weekends on a project, then tells everyone the project is his accomplishment, and his alone.

Not to mention the fact that he gives absolutely no credit to the father he says he reveres (except for his politics, which he has completely repudiated) for raising him in luxury, sent him to a posh private schoool where he started making the business connections that would serve him well later, then paid for his Harvard college education--so he had no college debts to pay off for the next several decades, s both Obamas did.

Nor, by the way, did Lyin' Ryan credit his father for raising him in wealth and privilege. Instead he implied that he had to work his way through college.

So they're both the kind of people who grab sole personal credit for everything they claim to have achieved. No wonder they say politics is not a team sport.

Think of how you felt when your boss took the plaudits and gave you the unpaid overtime when you're in the voting booth this November.

"President Bush II is not on the ballot"

Actually President Bush is on the ballot, since the Romney/Ryan ticket advocates exactly the fundamental(ist) policies: tax cuts for the richest of the rich, federal government expansion (via the military), cutting jobs--the jobs of the government regulators who keep America's fiscal warlords from romping and stomping over the rest of us, and the enactment of the religious views of Christian fundamentalists in the criminal code.

Bush II is also on the ballot because the fiscal catastrophe wrought by the Republicans during his reign were so severe we're still digging out from under them. Who says any problem created by any American regime can be solved by the next administration in a year or two? That's what the GOP says--at least when they're talking about a Democratic administration...

Fact checkers do--or don't--tend to their knitting?

The Republican war on fact checkers was predictable, because given what the fact checkers have been saying after the Republican convention, either Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and their cronies are lying--and lying large--or the fact checkers are lying.

That's the choice.

The least interesting part of the Republican attack is their attempt at cult programming: saying that all the mainstream media is left wing and in the tank for Obama, and then weaving conspiracy theorizing about various associations they say the fact-checking institutions have.

Next comes their habit of simply ignoring fact-checkers' challenges. Romney's been doing this for over a year.

But the most interesting is the Republican Ministry of Propaganda trying to define the fact-checkers' job as only legitimate it they confine themselves to quantifiable assertions and open statements.

For example, last year Romney ran an ad stating that President Obama had said in 2008 that "If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”

The ad neglects to mention that Obama was quoting someone in Senator John McCain's campaign. 

But by the GOP's Goodspeak Rules, Romney's ad wasn't lying because Obama did say those words. It's just "interpretation" that journalists have no business doing to call Romney a liar because the words were a quote. 

Thus Lyin' Ryan's lie about the GM plant's closing in his hometown meaning Obama had broken a promise to keep it open was defended as true because even though the plant closed during the Bush administration, laying off its 1200 employees, a few dozen stayed on until April 2009 to finish an order for vehicles being produced on contract for a Japanese carmaker. So it wasn't formally padlocked until Obama was President. But this is lawyers' parsing, like Clinton's notorious "What is the meaning of 'is'?" malarkey. The plant was effectively closed during Bush's reign. And Obama hadn't promised to keep it open--he was making a more general statement, and made good on that general statement when he engineering the GM bailout which did keep many plants open.

If you read what Ryan said carefully, you can see how he was able to get 90% of listeners to believe he said the equivalent of "Obama lied, workers cried," while leaving himself room for his numberless paid defenders to attack the fact-checkers by saying Ryan didn't say precisely what he got his listeners to hear.

So now if you mention Lyin' Ryan to Republicans they can dismiss that sobriquet as fact-checkers' not only being Liberals but also going beyond their mandate.

Ironic how Republicans derided Clinton for such parsing when he was talking about the Lewinsky affair, yet happily do exactly the same thing now. 

Propaganda is often very subtle in its methods. That's how it can communicate racist sentiments to racists that pass right over the heads of nonracist Republicans. Welfare-gangs--street crime memes all signify "Negroes" to racists, while Republican spinmeisters hotly defend harping on such themes as being only what they say they're about. 

These are also shaped charges. Romney gives his acceptance speech without using the word "Welfare" once, yet his advertising in Southern-flavored battleground states depends on the Big Lie that Obama decided to remove work requirements from welfare. He never says "Vote for Romney to stop the Negro illegitimately in the White House from taking white people's money and sending it to Negroes." But that's exactly what his supporters who are racist hear when his ads harp on this theme. Meanwhile his supporters who aren't racist nod their heads approvingly, and those who are in between are delighted because it gives them plausible deniability for their real reason for hating Obama so much. 

And they don't want fact-checkers to check on propaganda.

I wouldn't want them to either if I were them.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

Ever have a teacher tell you "There's no such thing as a stupid question" ?

If he did, he lied. And "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" is a perfect example of a stupid question.

The right question is: "Will you be better off four years from now if the other guy wins?" And in the case of this election, that question should actually come after this one:

"If the Republicans had held onto the White House in 2008, would you be better off now?"

And of course it also depends on who you are, and whether how well off you are has anything to do with the guy in the White House anyway.

Mostly it doesn't. You got laid off because the company thought it could replace you with someone younger and cheaper. Your spouse left you because you haven't said "I love you" since your wedding day a decade ago. You got into a car accident because you were on your cellphone. You simply got four years older (in that sense you're always worse off). The price you pay for gasoline has far more to do with the world oil market than domestic policy--no American president can get China's and India's huge, burgeoning middle classes to keep riding bicycles and taking the bus to work.

But even where it does, who's to say the other guy would have done any better just because you don't love what actually happened? Things are tough for many people now (except for millionaires and billionaires, whose incomes soared in the past four years). But what if instead of struggling out of a terrible recession we were in the depths of a second Great Depression?

If you don't think things could possibly be any worse, you know nothing about our history.

Which is why Governor Romney saying "The President made it worse" is a baldfaced lie. No one can say that for sure, and in fact you could easily say the opposite--that the President saved us from another Great Depression--brought on for the most part, as any economist not working for the Koch Brothers will tell you--by Republican tax cuts for the rich that account for most of the current deficit (that's right, most--look it up) that weren't balanced by spending cuts--they just borrowed it from China; and by a Republican war on a country that hadn't attacked us; and by deregulation that enabled the banks to gamble freely, knowing taxpayers would bail them out; and also by selling homes to people who couldn't afford them, using various deceptive practices.

Romney could only be certain the "President made it worse" if he were omniscient--a god, not a man. And saying uncertain things are certain is a lie--what's known in the sciences as "false precision."

So "are you better off now than you were four years ago" is absolutely a stupid question. It was stupid when Ronald Reagan popped back in the day, and it's even stupider now (since Governor Romney is smarter than President Reagan was--even before his mind started dissolving).

It's stupid because it presumes that if you aren't you should vote for a different president.

That's ridiculous. Suppose Martin Sheen was running for president against the incumbent? Or Sarah Palin? Or Warren G. Harding, one of the worst presidents in American history by all accounts?

You can always--always--do worse than whoever's the incumbent.

Such as voting for a president/vice president team that can't stop lying about their opposition and treating their own supporters like mushrooms.

Absent specifics from Romney, we do have specifics in the Republican Platform. And unless Romney flatly repudiates his own party's platform, what's in it is what we'll get. Because he is almost certain to do what George Bush II did: sign nearly every Republican bill Congress sends him.

If you look at the 2008 Democratic Platform, you'll see that President Obama enacted most of it. That's what most presidents do, and it's what Romney is almost certain to do. Or Ryan, with Romney trailing behind his veep's Conservative Charisma.