Archive for August, 2012

I don’t get it. I don’t understand how pre-tea-party Republicans can stand what happening in their party. Let’s just imagine for a moment that Mitt Romney is rational, more like he was as governor of Massachusetts. Of course it’s impossible to know precisely what he believes any more since he changes his tune faster than a teenager can hit the buttons on a car radio. But, put that aside. Everyone knows that the tea-party rules the Republican Party. Do you think that Mitt Romney can swim against that tide? Do you think that he will even try to when even a suggestion of compromise unleashes a tidal wave of push back from right-wing zealots? No way. That’s why I don’t get it. Certainly, rational Republicans know what’s happened over the past 4 years:

  • Before President Obama even took office plans were under way by the Republican leadership…including Paul Ryan…to limit Obama to one term by making him look bad.
  • Obstructionism started on Obama’s first day in office because he was politically vulnerable: his name is Barack Hussein Obama, he is and uppity black man and his wife is an angry black woman who does terrorist fist bumps.  In other words, he symbolized the demographic changes sweeping the nation. He had to be stopped.
  • Everything Obama tried to do…even things that had been recommended in the past by Republicans…was obstructed. Super majorities became the rule of the day.
  • The right-wing communication machine hammered him unmercifully as being not one of us, and as someone who didn’t understand America. It didn’t help that people throughout the world perceived him as a change agent, a fact that fed right into the right-wing’s xenophobic view that he didn’t like America.
  • Political differences were stoked to the level of political hatred. Listen to how Romney supporters talk about the president. He’s the enemy, not a political option.

Why doesn’t this stuff matter? Have the “crazies,” as Chris Christie calls them, taken over the party as well as the minds of reasonable Republicans? How could Obama possibly be a worse choice than a tea-party controlled puppet in the White House?

Frankly, I could be a lot happier than I am with the President, but I will vote for him and work as best I can to support his campaign. On the other side I desperately fear that America will descend into fascism and theocracy if Romney wins. For the majority of Americans, and for the planet we live on, that will be tragic.

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…we should realize that our FREEDOM IS NOT SECURE when inequality reigns and corporations rule. Workers have been reduced to economic servitude fighting for subsistence wages with no benefits and even less security. Labor Day celebrates an illusion, a memory of the 50s when labor unions gave birth to a nascent middle class. But now, we are told by people who would turn the clock back to the ’20s, that labor unions are part of the problem.

So, for the sake of workers everywhere, we must fight for a rebirth of trade unionism as a means of resurrecting the American dream and assuring that tomorrow will be a better day.

Governor of New Jersey at a town hall in Hills...Today, I spoke to a labor leader here in NJ. After chatting briefly about Chris Christie’s speech at the RNC, he launched into an attack on the president saying, among other things, that business can’t take another four years of Obama, and that we need Romney to fix the deficit. This was from a labor leader!

Why the hell has Democratic leadership failed so miserably in selling what the president has accomplished in the face of endless obstruction? Why was the tea party allowed to control the stimulus narrative?  Why do so few people understand what’s in the Affordable Care Act? Why don’t Democrats go to the mat to defend Dodd Frank every time some Wall Street huckster bemoans the evils of regulation? And the Keystone Pipeline? You’re kidding, right? Whoever the hell is running the communications show in Washington is doing a piss-poor job.

Frankly, the President deserves much of the blame. He should have taken his case directly to the American people as soon as he saw that the Republicans wanted only to throw him under a bus, the people’s interests be damned. Now he has to go hat in hand to the voters and plead for another chance. Do I think he deserves it? Yes, I do. But if he gets it he needs to kick ass and take names. Enough of this crap.

A labor leader voting Republican? Amazing.

Imagine being very, very sick. Your chest hurts, you can’t catch your breath and every step feels like your last. With shaking hands, you dial 911 and, before long, you’re doing the emergency room thing.

Too bad, because the hospital you’re in has a dispute going on. Two groups of doctors, each having its own approach to patient treatment, are locked in a bitter struggle for prominence. No matter what one group does to provide patient care, the other group steps in to stop. The way the obstructionists see it, better patients should die than allow the caring group to look good. Outrageous, isn’t it. Except the very same strategy guides today’s Republican politics. The people don’t matter. The country doesn’t matter. Only beating Obama and gaining control of the government matters.

The poor don’t matter, either; nor does the middle class, or hungry children, education, pollution, financial regulation, women’s reproductive rights or even voting rights. Nothing matters but winning. That is why I wake up every day anxious to talk to anyone who will listen about the perils our nation faces from people who wrap themselves in the flag, carry a cross and who don’t give a damn about anything but themselves.

The people of America deserve better and unless we get better our democracy will be on life support.

It’s been a few months since I posted my last blog entry. It’s not like there’s nothing to write about. There’s toomuch to write about.

Take voter suppression. After the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004, the Republicans are still attacking the foundation of democracy. In 2000 and 2004 it was the sanctity of the vote. Now it’s the right to vote using unneeded voter ID laws to protect against the red herring of all red herrings, individual voter fraud. Shame on them, shame on the courts, and shame Attorney General Eric Holder for not pushing back with the full force of his office. What will happen if the outcome of the 2012 election hinges on a single state, which it could well do, and Romney wins because of a suppressed vote?

If voter suppression is a solid punch to the gut, then Citizens United is an upper-cut to the chin. Historians could well look back on this Supreme Court ruling as the tipping point in America’s decent into fascism. The effect of this ruling will likely be to further consolidate political power in the hands of corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the people. Somehow the strict constructionists on the court found this to be consistent with the intentions of our founding fathers.

What’s really troubling is that rolling back Citizen’s United will probably require a constitutional amendment, an unlikely possibility since the very problem that Citizen’s United created…unfettered political spending…will be used to turn back any attempt to correct it. Short of a general strike and millions of American citizens taking to the streets in protest, how can a democratic America survive?

The stuff in this post is not meant to be an inclusive collection of things that challenge our democracy; that list would be far too long. Rather, it’s the stuff that keeps bubbling up, day after freaking day. Stuff like hate mongering. As soon as President Obama was elected it started. He’s not one of us; he channels his Kenyan father’s anti-colonial beliefs; he hates America and doesn’t understand how it works; he hates success, preaches socialism, and practices a different theology than real Americans. The Becks, Savages and Limbaughs serve up endless piles of this crap to their mindless, numb-nutted, lemming-like listeners who define themselves by what conservative talk radio hosts tell them to believe. Not incidentally, this is the legacy of Ronald Reagan.

When Reagan launched the culture wars he appealed to a large block of easily manipulated people who could be convinced to vote against their own interests providing the appeal was wrapped in a Christian/patriotic package. Return America to its Christian roots, they were told, by driving the elitist, baby-killing, welfare loving, gun-controlling, capitalism-questioning liberals and socialists out of government. Little by little, their patience was rewarded and in 2010 it blossomed into a full-blown crisis of governability.

Some would argue that we could do a lot worse than deeply religious people voting as a block and having a major influence on government. Well, the Taliban are deeply religious. How’s that working out for Afghani women? Religious zealots in Israel, who represent a sizable and very influential minority, attack women and girls who aren’t Jewish enough. And in the United States evangelical Christians conduct a never-ending campaign to revise history and biology curricula in order to conform the their intellectually bankrupt and toxically ignorant views of the world. Hearing these people claim some kind of moral high ground when they would have pregnant rape and incest victims carry fetuses to term is beyond crazy. This is not what the founding fathers had in mind. It’s what their forbears escaped from.

A few days ago I had a spirited conversation with a young man who shares few of my gripes. After going back and forth a bit, he hit me with a tried and true debate stopper. Regardless of the problems, he said, “America is still the greatest nation on earth.” What does that mean? I asked. Ducking the question he parried: “I take it you don’t think so.”

Our little exchange quickly devolved into a WTF moment. After all, how do you fix the greatest nation on earth?