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Friday, November 28, 2008

WHY I CAN'T BE A REPUBLICAN (III)

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders...all you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
- Nazi Marshal Hermann Goering -

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, the people will eventually come to believe it."
- Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels -

"REPITITION DOES NOT TRANSFORM A LIE INTO THE TRUTH."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

Intentional or not, the Republican Party all too often follows the practices of the above quoted Nazis: It lies. Blatantly. Over and over, it has resorted to huge distortions, smears, and misstatements rather than face and discuss issues head on. Recent examples have included false insinuations that three-time Purple Heart recipient John Kerry didn't deserve his awards (and was therefore unfit to be President), that former Senator Max Cleland was soft on terrorism and of questionable patriotism, therefore stealing his Georgia Senate seat for Saxby Chambliss (even though Cleland had left 3 limbs on a Vietnam battlefield for his country), and that Barack Obama was first, a Muslim, then one who "pals with terrorists," and then a "socialist." Each of these examples was a deliberate lie told ruthlessly and repeatedly as a tactic used to win elections. This modern-day style of dirty campaigning was begun by Republican strategist Lee Atwater in the late 1980s and has been carried on by his protege Karl Rove in 2000 and 2004, and his protege Steve Schmidt in 2008. Naturally, all the right wing water carriers like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and Bill O'Reilly are always quick to jump in and parrot the latest Republican allegation. Even the religious right gets involved with these lies. Just the other day, I saw a pre-election video put out by far-right preacher Dr. Hilton Sulton. This conservative zealot said, in effect, that GOD CREATED AMERICA on Christian principles; that God is perfect and good; that those clamoring for "change" are therefore violating God's will. The inference here, of course, was that a vote for Barack Obama was a vote against God. How utterly preposterous!!! First, there is NO mention of America ANYWHERE in ANY Bible! Second, it was the Founding Fathers who specifically founded this country, NOT God, and they set up elections and three branches of government for the very purpose of EFFECTING change and in anticipation of FUTURE change! I had to laugh at how wacked-out and blatantly partisan (and dishonest) this supposedly holy Dr. Sulton was! His and his party's lack of honesty, and the Machavellian "end justifies the means" mentality they display, add to the long and growing list of reasons why I can't accept Republicanism.

I have already amply illustrated how the Republicans do not truly represent the economic or moral values and interests of the majority of the country. This explains why they must so often resort to deceit and even character assassination to get their candidates elected. Just recently, right-wing liar and radio commentator Rush Limbaugh began referring to the current economic downturn as "the Obama recession." In fact, Obama has had nothing to do with it. He is not yet President, and it was caused by, and worsened by, the application of neocon deregulatory economic principles and practices begun under Bill Clinton and greatly expanded under George W. Bush! However, truth and facts mean little to Limbaugh or many of his hardcore Republican followers. They believe what they want to, period. And all they want to believe is that which they make up.

Republican folly was personnified in the selection of Sarah Palin as their VP choice last time, and their phony manufacture of Joe the (fake) Plumber as a sort of everyday citizen folk hero being victimized by Democrats. The GOP transparently grabbed Palin for VP, thinking that disaffected Hillary Clinton voters would flock to the ticket simply because she was a woman. It didn't matter to these illogical Republicans that Palin was woefully underqualified to hold national office, or that her political views and Clinton's are 180 degrees apart. They tried to sell Palin as a likeable, down-home, average hockey mom just trying to make ends meet like everybody else (even though the Palins' family income was well above average). With Joe the (fake) plumber, they tried to use him as an example of a hardworking everyday American worker who would suffer loss under an incorrectly presented Obama tax plan. They and their phony character said that Joe was a plumber, wanted to buy his boss's business worth $250,000, but wouldn't be able to under Obama's tax plan because he would be taxed too heavily. It didn't matter that this Joe WASN'T a plumber, nor was he currently employed, nor was he trying to buy a business, that he would do BETTER under Obama's tax plan than under Republican McCain's, and that he was actually a TAX CHEAT with a $1,200 tax lien against him. In both cases, the Republican Party actively and deceitfully tried to sell voters an IMAGE rather than provide real SUBSTANCE for the campaign. Naturally, these fraudulent attempts to sway the election in their favor failed, as VOTERS DO NOT APPRECIATE BLATANT DECEIT NOR DO THEY APPRECIATE HAVING THEIR INTELLIGENCE SO THOROUGHLY INSULTED!

Republicans also love to employ overly simplistic, half-truth, "polar opposites" as a means of attacking their opponents. People and candidates who are pro-choice (meaning they believe it is a woman's personal choice, rather than the state's as to whether or not to have an abortion) are inaccurately and unfairly labeled "pro-abortion" by Republicans. Those who oppose abortion under any circumstance (even though many of these same people support pre-emptive war and the dealth penalty) are errantly and paradoxically referred to as "pro-life" by the Republicans. Those who believe trade with other countries should be mutually beneficial and subject to specific common sense terms and conditions, are labeled as "protectionists" by Republicans (even in cases where these people have not advocated protective tariffs or heavy restrictions). But - those favoring completely unrestricted trade with other countries, no matter how one-sided or foolhardy the arrangement struck may be, are called "free traders" by conservatives and Republicans. These, of course, are deliberate distortions and overly simplistic misrepresentations designed to make voters select preferred Republican candidates.

The Republicans also have a penchant for anti-intellectualism. This is because the intellectual approach of careful examination, analysis, and discussion runs contrary to their preference for simplistic slogans, half-truths, and snap-judgments. Republicans generally shun the best and the brightest and derisively call them "elitists." They apparently prefer morons who can't spell (e.g. Dan Quayle - "potatoe"), can't properly pronounce words (e.g. George W. Bush and Sarah Palin - "nukeyulur" and "Eye-rack"), or those who are addicted to undignified and unsophisticated "you betcha", "darn tootin'", "by golly", and chop-the-g-off-every-ing-word stupid colloquialisms like Sarah Palin. Utterly pathetic. Embarrassing, too.

All parties and political campaigns are guilty of misrepresentation and exaggeration. But the Republicans have a knack for going way over the top with theirs. Their vicious smears and lies are inexcusable. Their favoritism of the wealthy and big business over ordinary citizens is shameful. Their intolerance, rigidiy, lack of diversity, militarism, and refusal to recognize government as a good and necessary force to protect average citizens afrom the excesses of concentrated capital are all fatal flaws. All that plus their use of fear and mean-spiritedness are clear-cut reasons why this is not the same party which once put Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt into office, and is therefore undeserving of support.

You can judge a group, just like a person, by the company they keep. In the case of the Republican Party, their notable members have included the likes of red-baiting Joe McCarthy, Richard M. ("I am not a crook") Nixon, Spiro (I WAS a crook, so I resigned) Agnew, Dick (I'll do whatever I damn well please, Constitution or no Constitution, and to hell with YOU) Cheney, Dan (DUH!) Quayle, Lee Atwater, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Alberto ("I'm afraid I don't recall") Gonzales, Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, Michele (the media should expose every member of Congress who may be anti-American) Bachmann, the hateful, vicious, venomous, ever-lying Ann Coulter, Mary Matalin, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and Bill O'Reilly. That's quite a rogues list. These members, together with all of the reasons I have spelled out over these past 3 blogs, are perfect examples of why I can't, and will never be, a Republican.

NEXT WEEK - GRIEVOUS GOP MISTAKES: A CHRONOLOGY

Saturday, November 22, 2008

WHY I CAN'T BE A REPUBLICAN (II)

"Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."
- John Stuart Mill -

"The dread of evil is a much more forcible principle of human actions than the prospect of good."
- John Locke -

Last week I gave my economic views on why I can't be a Republican. This week I will cover other areas, such as the Republicans' inherent fear, rigid adherence to ideology, contradictory behavior, and faulty logic.

Republicans, especially those of the conservative persuasion, are a fearful, cynical, and suspicious lot. They are determined to keep things as they are (or return them to what they once were, in what they perceive were simpler, and therefore better, times). They generally support strong authority and control (EXCEPT in the area of economics, where they want absolute, unquestioned freedom to make money however they see fit). As such, in areas of economic pecking order, social mores, and the legal system, they usually always support the status quo. They are suspicious of all but the tried and true. In my view, a consistent viewpoint of that type breeds ignorance, complacency, and even regression. Republicans often cynically attack new ideas and perpetrators of such with sinister-sounding names in an attempt to convince others that these purveyors of change are bad and undesirable, and so are their ideas. Indeed, the old adage "only ants and savages kill strangers" could easily be amended to say "only ants, savages, and Republicans kill strangers." This is why they once called the aristocratic FDR "a traitor to his class" for launching innovative and badly needed New Deal reforms during the Great Depression in the 1930s. It is why they are calling Barack Obama a "socialist" today. For Republicans often prefer to do nothing, or take small, limited action when the times and situations demand bold moves. In doing so, they often fight that which is fair and just, illogically defying progress.

Ronald Reagan once advised Republicans that, "the 11th Commandment is, thou shalt not criticize fellow Republicans." John F. Kennedy once likened the party to a herd of compliant circus elephants, each perfectly content to follow the other by the tail in a circle under the circus tent. Both men illustrated a serious flaw in Republican mindset. Their rigidity and hostility to progressive chasnge has not served them well. In the 1930s, for example, they were horrified to see the federal government enact measures like Unemployment Compensation, Social Security, and permitting labor unions to come into being. They opposed ANY effort by government to aid individuals rather than institutions. In a time of great need, with the public desperately clamoring for any kind of help, the Republicans were dead wrong in clinging to the old, failed ways by opposing the new. In the 1960s, they were so glued to the idea of states' rights that it led them to oppose long overdue federal implementation of fair, just, and much-needed civil rights legislation. Their short-sighted stubborness caused them to place adherence to an abstract principle before the combatting of abuses on blacks and other minorities, or ensuring their rights as citizens! Stupid is as stupid does, I guess. In the 1990s, the Republicans fought the Clintons' desire for a fair and universal national health care plan. Even today, with fully 1 in 7 of us not insured, or severely underinsured, these same Republicans and conservatives will fight Obama's universal health care plan tooth and nail. They will place as a priority instead the need for pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and the medical establishment to continue making exorbitant profits before the need of individuals to receive equally good health care. The United States is the ONLY major industrialized country in the world without universal health care. Even poor CUBA has such a system! So once again, the Republicans are dead wrong on this issue and I cannot support their folly.

Republican and conservative paranoia has repeatedly led to violations of guaranteed citizen rights all through our history. Today's wiretapping, secret surveillance of private bank records, and illegal forced imprisonment of those suspected of "terrorism" without charge or trial are horrible overreactions to 9/11 and far exceed the similar witch hunts of the anti-Communist 1950s McCarthy period. Again, give a paranoid Republican an inch and he will always take a mile. Today's batch of conservative fools has surely confused patriotism with repression, and there is no place for this kind of mindset or actions like these anywhere in America, now or ever!

The Republicans love to consider themselves the party of morality. Time after time, this pompous attitude has led them, in fact, to IMMORAL actions of hate, bigotry, oppression, and fostering greed. They have, in their own twisted application of the book of Genesis, recreated God in THEIR own image and likeness. The Rev. Jim Wallis, publisher of Sojourners magazine, accurately and eloquently points out that "God is NOT pro-rich, pro-war, and pro-Republican." The problem is, today's conservative Republicans are ignorant of all of those truisms. They actually believe it was right for us to attack and invade Iraq without provocation, murdering millions of innocent Iraqi citizens as a result. They actually believe it was right for us to impose democracy on the Iraqis at gunpoint. In my view, aggression is aggression, and murder is murder, so this is where I definitely part company with the Republicans. Their insane economic policy of rewarding the rich and effectively penalizing the poor and everyone else runs directly counter to the Bible's repeated exhortations to look out for and care for the poor. Many conservatives' and Republicans' hatred and mistrust of Muslims, gays, liberals, various minorities, and women having abortions also runs counter to biblical teachings. The Republican inaction on abortion is a huge example of hypocrisy. From 2001-2007, Republicans and conservatives controlled most statehouses, the Congress, the Presidency, and had a working majority on the Supreme Court. Yet they passed NO laws and made NO legal pronouncements banning abortion, even though they repeatedly publicly proclaimed that is what they stood for. They didn't even TRY to outlaw abortion. Instead, they cynically USED abortion as a political tool and a weapon against social liberals and Democrats in order to gain office and maintain political power. They fired up and used well-intentioned religious people all across the country to do their bidding and cement their power. Yet their shameful opportunism led to nothing. Absolutely reprehensible!

These are more solidly good reasons why I can't be a Republican. I will lay out even more next week.

Friday, November 14, 2008

WHY I CAN'T BE A REPUBLICAN (I)

"Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism."
- Hubert H. Humphrey -

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

I can't, and will undoubtedly never be, a Republican. The Democratic Party has made its share of mistakes over the years to be sure, and it will do so again. It has not always been fully honest and forthright in its presentations to the voting public. But in my lifetime, and for the 40 or so years preceding my birth, the Democrats have striven to make government a beneficial force for the majority of the population, especially for the poor, working, and middle classes. The same cannot be said for the Republicans.

I COULD have been a Republican once: In Lincoln's day, or again in the Teddy Roosevelt era. In those all too brief times, encompassing a total of roughly 12 years, the Republicans were actually a progressive party, 180 degrees from the dinosaurs they are today. Both Lincoln and Roosevelt believed in a strong federal government, as do I. They believed government has the duty and moral obligation to protect average citizens from the excesses of greedy, self-serving reactionary forces and institutions. I share that belief. Lincoln's GOP abolished the evil institution of slavery. Teddy Roosevelt broke up the corrupt big business trusts of his day, which were then, much like now, exerting an undue stranglehold on government and the economy. He established numerous regulatory agencies like the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that business was operating under fair standards, and for the benefit of the people instead of just for itself. He made sure that concentrated capital did not reign supreme and that it was accountable to the public interest. An avid conservationist, he was also responsible for the establishment of our National Park system. I could and would have been an ardent Republican in each of those times, but not between them or since.

After Lincoln's assassination, the Democrats were in disarray. They had sympathized to a degree with the agrarian south and had derived their support there. With the south in ruins following the Civil War and many former Democrats or southern leaders now barred from holding public office, the Republicans became the prominent national political party. This marked the end of the first progressive and liberal bent of the Republican Party. The GOP allied itself with northern industrialists, big business, and bankers. It fell under the domination of often corrupt conservative business interests. Instead of a strong federal government, the GOP now favored the individual states having the greater say on issues, especially the economic ones. This continued from roughly 1868 until Roosevelt's presidency began in 1901, and resumed in about 1910 through the present day. Since the 1880s or so, the party has exhibited a distinct bias for big business rather than individuals, and has opposed and fought organized labor every step of the way. Republican administrations have been marked by repeated scandals, from 1872's Credit Mobilier example, to the early 1920s' Teapot Dome gem, to the Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, and mortgage banking scandals of the George W. Bush era. Though not caused exclusively by Republicans, the party's constant pressure for total freedom for big business has repeatedly bred a climate of business excess and corruption. In all cases, business benefitted and the mass public was victimized. I cannot support the Republican idea of a totally unregulated market. Such policies have failed us time and again. They have meant freedom for the wealthy and restricted economic gain for everyone else. They have consistently led to unfair economic repression for workers and the poor. Today, this has manifested itself in skyrocketing CEO salaries and benefits coupled with frozen or declining worker wages (even in the face of rising labor productivity and corporate profits) and the exporting of millions of good paying American jobs to cheap foreign labor markets overseas. This insistence on a hands-off policy for government regarding business has been disastrous time after time. In the 1800s, its hallmark was miserably low wages, very long hours, and near slave labor conditions for factory workers, women, and even young children. In the 1920s, these policies helped create the Great Depression, which in turn led to World War II. Today, they have resulted in a falling standard of living, collapse of financial markets, and may even lead to another depression. The net result of these laissez-faire economic policies is always the same: Redistribution of wealth upwards instead of evenly across the board. They also always mean hardship for all but a priviliged few wealthy elite. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans' use (or misuse) of government always benefits the few who need no benefit rather than the many, who do.

Republicans love to say they support free enterprise, but that is not at all true. What they REALLY practice is state-sponsored capitalism, a sort of fascism-lite. Corporate welfare could be another term used. They absolutely hate the idea of government giving economic aid to down-and-out individuals, but they are happy to accept government subsidies, government contracts, and even government bailouts for business, as well as huge, disproportionate tax cuts for big business and the wealthy. It's economic intercourse, to be sure, but all except the rich are the ones continually getting f_cked by it, all the time.

These are merely my ECONOMIC reasons for whi I can't be a Republican. My social and political reasons will follow in the next blog or two. Feel free to comment below if you like. Thank you.