A Little Reality Check
by Bruce Barnbaum
A week ago we saw with absolute clarity that not only will Republican s refuse to work with Democrats (in general) and President Obama (in particular), but they refuse to work with other Republicans. John Boehner (Speaker of the House, in case you forgot…and you may as well forget) put together a bill that had no chance of making it through congress, but simply designed to simply get through the ultra-conservative House of Representatives…and he couldn’t even get it through the House of Representatives. The super–whackos within his whacko caucus wouldn’t even allow that bill to get to a vote, so Boehner hastily pulled his own bill, and instead resorted to reciting a prayer, which was potentially his coup de grace as House speaker. That could indicate that the Tea Party House members, who control the Republican Party, which controls the House, which controls the congress, which hamstrings the president (which is all they want to do…so they win!) will prevent Obama from doing anything positive for this country.
It turns out that while Democrats won the White House again, gained a couple seats in the Senate (which will give them no more control) and gained a couple of House seats (which will give them no more control), Republicans did very well in the November elections. Due to clever gerrymandering, while they received 47% of the vote for House seats, nationwide, they got 53% of the seats. BY gerrymandering, Democrats won a number of seat by huge victories (courtesy of gerrymandering) leaving a number of Republicans with carefully engineered victories by small amounts. This occurred in state after state with Republican control, which set up committees to redraw district lines to gain exactly that outcome.
Furthermore, huge amounts of money from the Koch Brothers, Kenneth Adelson, and several other activist billionaires put more Republicans into governorships (now 30 Republican governors in the nation) and control of both houses in many states. In Michigan, the legislature immediately pushed through the same laws just passed in Wisconsin against labor, and had it quickly signed by the Republican governor, even while Obama won the vote of the state in November. So, while Democrats are chortling about how those billionaires got bumped off, it turns out that they got much of what they wanted. Obama is still hamstrung by congress, so he can’t do much (or anything at all, since Republicans have decided that traitorous actions against the country are better than doing anything to work with Obama). And on a state-by-state basis, Republicans are taking control…real control. This will not only affect labor, but also such things as education, women’s rights and all sorts of other issues, since Republicans have a clear war going against science and women. (Examples: total denial of the tsunami of evidence on global warming; demands to de-fund planned parenthood and make abortions impossible state by state…where they have control, and many more issues too numerous to list.)
But let me piss off some of my liberal readers with the recognition that while Republicans remain with their heads firmly stuck on no taxes on anyone (especially the millionaires and billionaires, liberals are firmly stuck with their “hands off social security” dogma. It turns out that social security (and with either or both Medicare and Medicaid) are, at least in part, Ponzi schemes (where there always has to be more young people coming in at the bottom to pay for the costs of the geezers, like me, at the top), so something needs to be done to make these things sustainable. Today, they’re not…not with the demographic trends of an aging population and lower birth rates. But it turns out we need lower birth rates, and we desperately need a declining population—not only in this country, but worldwide—to take some of the pressure off the finite resources of this planet, and neither social security nor the other two allow that because they’re all based on more and more young ones at the bottom holding up the older ones at the top. If we’re going to have a sustainable world, we’ve got to make all parts sustainable. We really have to take a look at the sustainability of social security.
There can be, and should be, some compromise here. Of course, we’re wasting far, far more money on defense—where our defense budget roughly equals that of the rest of this planet’s nations, combined—and we need to cut that back first and foremost! That’s almost impossible politically, because anyone suggesting even a moderate amount of decrease in defense spending is immediately charged with weakening the country, when in fact, the opposite is true. With our huge defense outlays and our meddling in every part of the world, we’re making far more enemies than friends. That, too, is unsustainable. We’ve got to change our policies. No American elected official or diplomat can walk down the streets anywhere these days without armed escorts (and that’s of little help). We’ve made enemies everywhere, and the level of hatred here in this country is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. We’re scared of one another, and the NRA keeps upping the ante on this one. (It’s amazing that the NRA started as a legitimate group concerned with hunting, and has morphed into a group that wants to turn the entire country into a gunfighters paradise. But just wait, because we haven’t seen anything yet: as soon as Wayne LaPierre reads the second amendment and realizes that it says “arms” not “guns” he’ll be claiming that everyone has a right to tanks, cluster bombs, rockets and anything else that can be called “arms.” …and if you think THAT’S an exaggeration, just hang in there! It’s coming.)
Some levels of compromise are necessary. Obama has indicated some leeway on social security and liberals are up in arms against that. A few Republicans have recently said that they could accept higher taxes on those earning above $250,000/year, and the real whackos have shot them down, and Boehner along with them. So there’s no movement.
All of our problems are self-inflicted, and our approach is to keep making them worse.
Happy holidays and a great New Year.