Thursday, December 14, 2017
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Glorifying “Bipartisanship” Is a Plague on Our House; Today’s GOP Is...

We (at least many of us) have a romantic ideal of politics: open and free elections after a thoughtful and idea-dominated campaign; elected representatives...

“No Labels,” More False Equivalence

Look who is supposedly coming to Washington, according to a recent article here, as if many of the leaders of this organization haven't been there all along. No Labels is full of partisan insiders preaching Republican-style corporatism. It's members of whatever party, long for "compassionate conservatism." We learned there really is no such a thing. If anything the Bush years made a lie of the oxymoronic term.  

Moreover, evidence disputing real bipartisanship is No Labels' inclusion of the worst Democrats ever. If there is incivility in Congress, it is party their fault. If there is incivility toward the president, ditto. Consider just three of the Dems involved:

Joe Lieberman; Evan Bayh; Ben Nelson

These pretend Dems do not exemplify bipartisanship as much as capitulation to an unyielding Republican agenda. As the American Prospect article shows, the members are all right of center. You can count on Nelson to vote against everything Democrats propose. Bayh is married to a health care insurance executive (a vice president of one) and his work on health care "reform," not surprisingly, favored insurance companies. It was a metaphor for everything Bayh has done while in Congress.  He retired from the Senate in 2010. And now, here he comes to force his roll-over-and-play-dead message on we progressives by any other means. And, what do you say about Joe-Mentum (his nickname for momentum) except that his only momentum is in the wrong direction. Throw in such GOP stalwarts as Mark McKinnnon, Bush's former go-to campaign media person.  Now he's the Global Vice Chairman for Hill and Knowlton, you know, the PR firm engineering the fake story of babies being thrown from incubators onto the floor in Pre-Desert Storm Iraq. It was a terrible lie to move Americans to support Desert Storm. (McKinnon is not responsible for that campaign but the campaign shows how H & K operates.)    

In Search of Empathy (and Where Not to Find It)

I offer the following tidbits, each story with a common thread: Where is the empathy?

• Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged tops books borrowed at the Virginia Tech Newman Library for a recent year.
• Hopes for extension of unemployment benefits died last week.
• Concern for needy declines as the poor and working poor are "nickeled and dimed."
• President Obama wanted his US Supreme Court nominee to possess empathy, though to date we do not know if or how Elena Kagan has demonstrated such, or whether she would be another corporatist on the high Court. Republicans criticized and mocked the empathy criterion.

And then, there is this: A recent University of Michigan study on empathy among young people found a sharp reduction in it.  College students today score much (40%) lower in empathy than college students did just 10 or 20 years ago. The biggest drop came after 2000, which is not surprising given the arrogant, resource-grabbing culture promoted by Bushism.  Every man (and woman) for himself and God help us all. It's the GOP/Club for Growth/(Milton Friedmanomics/"Tea Partiers"/Freedom Works/Americans for Prosperity," mantra.  

Ruthless opportunism marks everything George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich and the newer reinvention of the far right seek.  There is nothing more sacred than their very own tax shelters, preferences or cuts, except, perhaps, their tendency to hijack patriotism and contort it into something it is not.  They use up resources way out of proportion to what they contribute and without regard for what they destroy in the process.  Think BP.  Think Halliburton.  Think Wall Street.  Think those who believe any American should be a second class citizen.

To quote cognitive scientist, George Lakoff, the radical-wrong's ideology is:

"empathy-free, self-interest maximizing, with disdain or even hatred for those seen as lesser beings."

Lakoff notes that this wrong-wing (my term) ideology is self-reinforcing: a system that essentially promotes that values-free system itself.  It mocks altruists, "do-gooders," and "bleeding hearts," as if those were actually bad things. If the trend with college students continues, eventually a majority could take such a jaded view of others.  For sixty years the fringe has orchestrated a movement to change the way we view our responsibility to one another.  From Nixon to today's GOP, they've nixed the common good.  Now the fringe has grown from less than 10% to roughly 25%.  And the 25% is holding our nation hostage to their Party of No "leadership."  Now we see the result of values-free, self-adulating, self-aggrandizing  destructiveness.  The radical wrong is destroying everything in its sight. We are either part of the problem or part of the solution.  Democrats cannot have it both ways.  

Radical “Right” Undermining Our Government

What ever happened to moderate Republicans?  That was the title of an American Prospect article in 2007. There certainly are none left in Congress.  Lately, however, radical conservative GOPhers have really found their stride doing what they do best, obstruction and destruction.  They've outdone their former rancid rants over any Democratic administration in the past fifty years.  They will undo, unravel, destroy, any Democrat by any means necessary.  And they will especially do so when the Democrat is the president.  You see, the unitary executive was only for Republicans. When Dems are in office, it's take-down time.  When Repugs serve (serve being a loose term because they think voters serve them and not the other way around), watch out. Here's just a small sampler of how bad it has become.  I'll start with obstructions and dismantling of government as we know it.  Then I'll list some of their more radical efforts:

• John Kyl has vowed to filibuster any nomination to the US Supreme Court (he did this, not upon hearing an specific choice, but rather almost as soon as Obama was elected).  
• John McCain has vowed to do nothing and cooperate zero with anything the administration does.  Imagine, a former presidential contender (and former "maverick--having falsely claimed that as his meme, he now denies he ever was one) now acting as if there is no legitimate purpose to the presidency--or the US senate.
• The same man who "counseled" John Ensign is holding the unemployed and flood victims hostage.

There's more below the fold...