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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Terrorists Haven't Won... Yet.
      The latter-day Republican Party is more misused than an internet apostrophe. The party that a couple of generations ago had given and had helped give us a progressive tax rate of 90% on the 1%, the Eisenhower Highway System, a strong national defense and kick-ass foreign policy has degenerated into the world's premiere clown show, the worst show on earth. It's one that's reduced to heckling the President and openly doubting his nationality and religion, sabotages the nation's ability to move forward and shamelessly sucks up to corporations, lobbyists, evangelical nut jobs and mobbed-up oligarchs.
      Republican initiatives have paved the way for the crippling of unions, making pensions a fond memory, an epidemic of outsourcing, ruinous tax breaks, subsidies and deferments for the least deserving and welfare "reform" replaced by woefully insufficient minimum wage jobs. They've given rise to a for-profit prison system that, by design, has made us the most heavily incarcerated nation on earth. The Republican agenda has resulted in military adventurism that's overseen the death, detainment, displacement and detention of indigenous peoples in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions. They've openly waged wars on science, on gays, on women, on minorities, on the elderly, on the young, on education, on the unemployed, in short, everyone but rich, white Republican men like them.
     Bluntly speaking, the Republican Party is killing the planet earth to the point where the human race directly afflicted by it can no longer be said to be actually evolving. If we were to drive to ground or hound these lunatics out of existence like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday did the Cowboys in the early 1880's, the human race as a whole would be allowed to progress and we could put an end to this shameful evolutionary bottleneck these selfish and bloated bipedaled vermin have visited on us.
     It would be easy to see last night's "fiscal cliff' Senate vote as a step away from the darkness, to see it as a bellwether for the end of the planet-plundering Republican Party as we now see it. Through some vicious, back room dick-twisting on the part of the President and Vice President, the Senate passed a bill that at last saw the end of the Bush tax cuts that have helped put us in the financial Dark Ages as well as averting spending cuts to the social safety net and blocked any attempt for lawmakers to vote themselves yet another pay hike.
     The bill sailed through the higher chamber 89-8, which is about as strong a bipartisan mandate as the President could hope for. It was opposed by one liberal Democrat, Tom Harkin, as well as by five of the most archly conservative Republicans, including rising GOP star and 2016 presidential wannabe Marco Rubio. Harkin saw it as a shitty compromise and while I appreciate his principled stand, Senator Harkin has to understand that this decisive victory in the Senate is just that, a victory considering the counterproductive posturing and faux outrage we've been hearing from wounded Republicans since Super Tuesday.
     While there were some giveaways to a Senate GOP that's as strong as it'll ever be for the next two years, the aversion to cuts in the safety net, the $30 billion funding of a year's worth of unemployment benefits and letting lapse the tax cuts for those making $400,000 a year or more (instead of starting with those making $250,000 or more, as the President had consistently called for) is certainly worth the 2% payroll tax cut lapsing and no spending cuts to the military that would surely merely affect the boots on the ground while not stopping the outsourcing orgy to war profiteers like Blackwater and Halliburton.
     Plus, the GOP-controlled House looms balefully in the distance and it's important to have in the tank as strong a bill in the Senate as leverage when the lower chamber tries to pass a reconciled version of the bill. In short, while the process was deeply flawed and certainly no model of governance (as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the vote), giving these stopgap measures a rushed and hasty look, the end result was an object lesson of how swiftly and effectively government can work when bipartisan bickering is squelched and both sides of the aisle reach out to each other.
     While I've been (justifiably) taking pot shots at the President practically from inauguration day, perhaps Mr. Obama is finally learning how to negotiate, which is in asking for the outrageous so that when you're finally chewed down, it won't be as bad a compromise as when he'd negotiated with Congress on the disastrous health care reform bill. I'm not as optimistic as the NY Times that a favorable House version of the bill will sail to a reconciled version and straight to the Resolute Desk. Yet the Democrats' victory in the Senate last night will surely be a psychological blow to a House Republican leadership that's finally realizing it's losing its traction in a fading world in which white, rich Republican men once held sway over everyone else. It's all but assured the House will later today pass their version of the so-called "fiscal cliff" deal with the 113th Congress looming even larger in the next 48 hours.
     All in all, it was a good way to ring in the New Year and maybe, just maybe, 2013 will be a little brighter for many of us than the previous year.
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1 Comments:
Anonymous Bill Murray said...
A few giveaways? $60-200 billion to corporations seems like quite a bit to me. But then I don't like NASCAR or rum or Goldman-Sachs