Posts tagged ‘ideologues’

How Did We Get Here?

By here I mean a President who is ethically and morally challenged, ignorant of history or our fundamental values, and we try to normalize him.  He has so many conflicts of interest it boggles the mind.  He just fired the person who was investigating him and seems to want to put Republican yes-men in his place. Loyalty to United States means loyalty to Donald Trump.  The very basis of democracy, a trust in our institutions and processes are being undermined at a hectic pace and the people who could do something, “proud” Republicans, do nothing.  We put a known racist and liar in charge of the Department of Justice*, and ethically challenged and climate change denier in charge of the EPA, a non scientist and who once said we should abolish the Department of Energy in charge of it, and a public educating hating and totally ignorant person in charge of public education. How did we get here?

Well first of all, there are no more “proud” Republicans except some pundits whose mind is clouded by the past that doesn’t exist anymore. Now I have spent lots of time in this blog explaining how middle America and Red States got dumbed down by a lazy press in bed with those they cover, being falsely fair and balanced claiming both sides do it, and a 50 year plan by conservative ideologues to take over the country.   But what I am talking about here is what happen to the Republican Party that no longer exists as a moderate conservative approach to government.

If you really want to understand this, look at it from 30,000 feet. Republicans won in 2000 by stealing an election and that set the tone for our next 17 years.  The tone set was winning is everything, whatever it takes.  The problem with that win in 2000 was when Republican ideas were actually implemented, we blew up the deficit with tax cuts, and eventually blew up the economy by removing regulations on banks.  All that is masked by the Afghanistan/Iraq war, but there it was.  Republican ideas simply did not work in a world economy. So in 2008, the country tried Barack Obama (Yes We Can!).  In the famous inauguration night meeting, Mitch McConnell and his Republican boys decided that they would do whatever it took to make Barack fail (No You Can’t!).  That was the end of the Republican Party as we knew it and the finally end to two-party governance.

That agreement was the stake in the heart of democracy because it went after the implicit contract we all live under, that we will abide by the vote, that ideas compete, and when you win election you get to try your ideas. If they could not be in charge they would ensure that no one else could run government. Republicans even turned their back on their own ideas if they were offered up by President Obama.  It got to be quite a joke.  And while spinning all the hate toward President Obama, they created the Tea Party, a right-wing, racist, nationalistic party that hardened the ideology.  The Tea Party, although a minority of Republicans, held the key to getting elected and the party swung further right and ideological.

Here is the fact that most people who call themselves Republicans (not politicians) have yet to grasp evidence by the fact that they are still Republicans:  The Republican Party is no more the party of small government, low taxes, and few regulations, with the caveat that rational logic told them that sometimes one size does not fit all and they had to compromise.    They are the party of the status quo, the rich, and continuing growing economic inequality.

Those people who were principled are gone forever, and what is left is a sniveling group of politicians led by Mitch McConnell that is terrified of their base, trapped by ideological beliefs that are fundamentally flawed, and gave up principled thinking many years ago.  Their only goal is to stay in office and to take total control of government and ensure that when things go south, democracy no longer functions so they are sent home.

That is where here is.  The Republican Party holds both houses of Congress and the Presidency, sort of.  They can now finally implement their agenda**. But there is a fly in ointment.  Donald Trump.  It is clear there was Russian interference in our elections although just this week Cheeto-head raised doubts about believing that. It is also becoming clear that there was some sort of collusion with his campaign and maybe his administration.  He has left the normal ethics of conflicts of interest out in the cold.  He has done morally reprehensible actions, and now he is trying to kill the investigation into his administration.  And Republicans, those “proud” Americans who wear their lapel pins so proudly and wave the Constitution every chance they get, they do nothing.  And now you know why.

We have faced threats throughout our history from the British, to the Civil War, to Communism, the Cold War, and now terrorism, but who would have thought that the real threat to our country was going to be from within, from the “proud” Republican Party that is now just a bunch of fanatical ideologues who are tearing down our Constitution in the name of conservative ideas.  Yes Virginia, Republicans are evil. So are people who vote for them when the truth is for everyone to see if only they will look.

*Sessions want to clamp down on Mary Jane and get tough on drug offenders again.  Turn back the clock, forget what we have learned and do more stupid stuff.

**They had their first chance on healthcare and the answer is, there is no conservative, market place fix for Obamacare.  So they either consider a single payer or deny millions healthcare.  They still haven’t faced that reality yet and there is no Republican plan.

David Brooks Making Sense

David wrote a piece this morning in the NYT about how dysfunctional our political system has become.  As he described it,

Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. These groups — best exemplified by the Tea Party but not exclusive to the right — want to elect people who have no political experience. They want “outsiders.” They delegitimize compromise and deal-making. They’re willing to trample the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making if it helps them gain power.

While he mentions the Tea Party, he never mentions Republicans specifically and while his whole argument mentions politicians and Congress or the Senate, he still hews to the both sides do it argument (“but not exclusive to the right”).  In the latest form of obstructionism by Republicans he describes it as,

We’re now at a point where the Senate says it won’t even hold hearings on a presidential Supreme Court nominee, in clear defiance of custom and the Constitution. We’re now at a point in which politicians live in fear if they try to compromise and legislate. 

The Senate?  It is Republicans pure and simple.  They don’t care about democracy, if they can’t get their way, they stop all government.  His analysis that the rise of Trump and other (who?) outsiders (Bernie may be a social democrat, but he is a senator in the Senate) is correctly diagnosed as frustration by the people who want to see government work again.  But he, like the media, have failed to put their finger on the problem preferring the “not exclusive to the right” which totally misdiagnosises the problem and gives us a Trump instead of a Congress willing to legislate and compromise.

While those of us who pay attention understand that Democrats may have their flaws and nut jobs, Republicans are the real issue here and failing to point that out is why we have Donald Trump.  The both sides do it argument has badly misinformed most of our electorate and we are seeing the results.  I will leave you with what one commenter  on Mr. Brooks’ op-Ed summed up:

” The answer to Trump is politics. It’s acknowledging other people exist.” Welcome to the party, Mr. Brooks. Better late than never, I suppose. What strikes me most here is “Trump is the culmination of the trends we have been seeing for the last 30 years.” Actually, the disaster we enjoy now began with the GOP’s sainted Ronald Reagan. 

From his tiny bubbling brook (think the Mississippi River rising in Minnesota) came the rushing tide of Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Pat Buchanan, W’s complete failure (led by Dick Cheney), culminating in today’s nightmare of Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, the now-departed John Boehner and the cast of 17 clowns clamoring to be your party’s presidential nominee. Your Republican Congress has spent the last seven years in a non-stop campaign to de-legitimize the black president. 

See, for just a few particulars: “one-term president;” the birther movement; Joe “you lie!” Wilson’s racist dog-whistle at President Obama’s very first SOTU address; Boehner’s invitation to Bibi. The cult of “antipolitics” is now loose in the land. You lament “trampling customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making.” The serial votes to repeal the ACA. Ted “Canadian Club” Cruz shuttering the government. Sarah Palin. Repealing voting rights. Gerrymandering. McConnell’s defiance of the Constitution. “We the people” are infected with the Right’s gangrenous spread. That you’re now on board is small comfort. Welcome.

It’s Friday So I Wax Philosophical 

Why do we do dumb things?  In a local high school three kids made a sex video and of course it went viral and they are maybe marked for life. This is an extreme case because, well, these are teenagers and they are basically mentally ill until about the age of 25.  In my political world, knowing what we know, why would anyone ever vote Republican?  The answer of course, like those teenagers, is that most of us don’t know very much.  We choose the world we would like to believe in, not the one that exists.

I had an exchange with a good friend recently that made this point.  We usually don’t talk politics, but somehow our dysfunctional Congress came up and this person said something to the effect of, “I just wish they would drug test welfare recipients.  If I have to have a drug test for my job, they should have to have one for their free handout.”  Also in there somewhere was a belief that there is wild cheating on our welfare system.

So I sent some of the facts to them on the data out there on both of those beliefs.  The facts are that drug testing welfare recipients is a gross waste of money.  Studies of states where this is done showed two salient things:  First, the drug use among welfare recipients is far less than in the general population.  Second, the cost of administering the tests far exceeds the money saved by denying welfare benefits, on the order of $1 saved for every $1000 spent.  You would think that even a Republican could be horrified by this gross misuse of public money.  You could Google this yourself.  It would be good practice.

On welfare cheats, the data is also quite conclusive.  It is small, and it is not the little guys who are the cheaters.  Food stamps primarily help the kids and the elderly.  The amount of fraud is very small in relation to the entire program and costs and rules to prevent the fraud would cost way more than the fraud itself.  Probably the biggest amounts of money is in Medicare and Medicaid fraud and it is the doctors and hospitals that are gouging the system, not the patients.

What I am trying to point out here is that we have a narrative, and then we inform that narrative by anecdotal incidents, and we are quite ignorant in most cases of the reality of our beliefs.  I am basically an atheist and a project manager.  What that translates to is that I look for solutions and I do not have preconceived unalterable beliefs.  So for instance, I have nothing against Republican economic theory that flow down works, except the data is unequivocal.  It doesn’t.  The rich are getting richer and the rest of us are losing.  That is a fact.

So when I take a position, and I am human, there are things I want to believe, I have to examine the facts.  I used to be for the death penalty.  The facts tell me it is inhumane, applied unfairly, and has killed many innocent people. I am no longer for it.  It is called rational thinking.  I finally understood that it was illogical.  The taking of a life justifies murder in the first place.  Rational thought is what our whole system of government was based upon, the ability to have a dialogue, argue the merits of a bill using data and facts, and arriving at the best solution.  Except that doesn’t work anymore.

Watching the Benghazi hearings was a case in point.  Like my friend, the Republicans have a narrative and they are not going to let facts and data sway them.  Sadly, the Republican Party has become the Party of ideologues where there is a litmus test for membership and that test does not have anything to do with your grasp of reality.  I keep bringing it up, but their denial of global warming is gross pathology.  There was a recent article in the NYT about how Texas has rewritten their textbooks to reinvent history to their liking, not the reality we need to learn.  You create an alternate reality at your own risk.

I don’t know that the answer is.  Clearly the Republicans have recognized the problem that their ideology is coming under attack from reality.  They have created their own echo chamber so those facts cannot penetrate.  Our government is failing and dysfunctional because we no longer operate on facts, rational dialogue and compromise.  Ideology cannot be compromised so we are run by people who really will destroy us in their blind faith in their ideology.  My only hope is that eventually Americans will get tired of being angry and really look at where their votes or their failure to vote has taken us and change their behavior.  It really is time.