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.
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
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, 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.