If, say, fifty years ago today — during those halcyon days when I was less than six months short of my twenty-first birthday, when I would soon (finally!) be allowed to register to vote — if, way back then, someone had told me that at some point in my life one of the two major political parties in the United States would have no other agenda than to destroy all of its opposition by any means available in its dogged pursuit of nothing less than full and total power in/of the State, I’d have shrugged, laughed, and dismissed the notion out of hand. But then, exactly one month to the day following my 21st birthday, at about 11:45 AM, MST, I was heading home for lunch when these words interrupted the music on the car’s radio:
We have an unconfirmed bulletin from Dallas, Texas; President Kennedy has been shot. There is no word yet as to his condition. Stay tuned, we will update as information becomes available.
A few minutes later I parked, walked inside, and turned on the TV. There was confusion, of course, lots of confusion. Then, suddenly, this:
Dallas, Texas; John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, is dead.
Everything changed that day. I remember first and foremost the sense of sadness, coupled with a sense of foreboding amongst the vast majority of my acquaintances and, clearly, of people everywhere. I also well remember the elation on the part of the handful of far-right-wingers that I knew back then; as one of them said upon hearing the news, “Live like a tyrant, die like a tyrant.” And of course on the larger stage there was the John Birch Society, and . . . yeah, like that.
With occasional (and, unfortunately, temporary) interruptions every now and then, it’s been a Republican-driven national downhill slope over the five decades since that fateful day. There was Nixon, of course, and Ford, then Reagan, then Bush, and Bush . . . and today the (formerly) Grand Old Party has evolved from basically a centrist organization to a neo-Fascist extreme right wing movement, one which has zero tolerance for any long-embedded ‘American’ ideals. Instead, they’re totally obsessed with three basic goals: global military dominance, money, and absolute political power. Everything and everyone else — the middle class, education, organized labor, the elderly, not to mention each and all of those ‘tired, those poor, those huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ — are to have their collective needs not only ignored, but redistributed. Upward. The rich are not (yet) rich enough.
And, worse, there’s a damn Democrat in the White House! Second term. Elected by sizable popular margins both times. And worst of all, he’s a black man. With a black wife. And black children. An obvious enemy of the people. He is, indeed, the GOP’s worst nightmare. And since day one of his first term, there has been only one, single, Republican goal: force that black Democrat S.O.B. President to FAIL! In every possible way. Especially in ways which will serve to advance their agenda of destroying the middle class, destroying public education, destroying organized labor, and relieving the tired, the poor, the elderly, the huddled masses . . . of each and every penny of public largesse. Let them eat cake. Or die. Whatever.
From the last day or two, a few headlines:
The proposed legislation would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) by almost $21 billion over the next decade, eliminating food assistance to nearly 2 million low-income people, mostly working families with children and senior citizens. The proposal reduces total farm bill spending by an estimated $39.7 billion over ten years, so more than half of its cuts come from SNAP. The SNAP cuts are more than $4 billion larger than those included in last year’s House Agriculture Committee bill (H.R. 6083).
Congressional Republicans are committed to breaking government one step at a time, and it’s a given that anything that attacks workers as well as the function of government will vault to the head of the line. So it is with the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB can’t function without a three-member quorum. Republicans blocked President Obama’s nominations to the board. Obama made recess appointments. Businesses sued and a Republican-appointed court overturned the recess appointments in a staggeringly broad decision. That’s being appealed to the Supreme Court. Obama nominated some more people to the NLRB and renominated the recess-appointed people. Republicans look likely to block those nominations. Meanwhile, one current member’s term expires in August, which will leave the labor board unable to function.
But what about the specific targeting of Tea Party groups? Doesn’t that show that this was all just a witch hunt against groups with right wing ideologies? Uh, no. It came up at exactly the time the office was getting flooded with a bunch of hastily prepared applications spewing from the Tea Party’s messy birth. The edict went out expressly because the office was being flooded with a bunch of hastily prepared, clearly political, applications all using very similar terms. In fact, the entire group of IRS employees in question was created to address the influx of possibly political applications. If the office had suddenly received a hundred applications for exempt status all claiming to be from the Sierra Club, wouldn’t you want them to pay a bit more attention? I would. What if those applications had all been from groups using Muslim Brotherhood in their titles? Would the same pundits still be on the air screaming about the IRS getting all political?
Behind all this are the staggering numbers. Out of thousands of applications, only a handful were rejected. You know what happens while a nonprofit organization is waiting to get this approval? They get to operate as a nonprofit organization. The harm caused by this action is exactly zero, and exactly no groups have sued the IRS in response to their rejection. They simply amended the application and tried again.
Thanks to the Defense Department’s announcement Tuesday, the number of federal workers forced on furlough by the sequester now stands at 820,000. Other agencies had already furloughed 140,000 workers and the Defense Department is furloughing 680,000. That’s 820,000 workers and their families suffering. substantial pay cuts.
That’s a mere sampling of the nonsense being perpetrated by today’s GOP, a brief glance at just a portion of one single page from yesterday’s Daily Kos. And not a word about the other Republican ‘dramas’ currently being played out, including Benghazi, the DOJ investigation via AP phone records of serious leaks concerning an intelligence operation in Yemen (which ultimately prevented an al Qaeda plot to blow up a US-bound passenger plane).
Note, too, that despite all the Republican hoopla over the news that the IRS took a close look at some 75 applications for tax exemption status by newly-formed “Social Welfare” organizations whose name or description included the words “Tea Party,” nary a single complaint ever issued from even a single Republican politician or official when, back in 2004, the IRS investigated the tax exempt status of the NAACP . . . simply because its chairman at the time, Julian Bond, was highly critical of George W. Bush and his war in Iraq.
Scandal, scandal, scandal. Political posturing, political screeching. Over what? Why? There’s a black Democrat in the White House, that’s why! Gotta screech, screech, screech, create “scandals” at every opportunity. Yesterday, at Consortium News, Robert Parry offered an interesting perspective in his May 14 article:
The modern American news media operates like a giant right-wing funhouse mirror reflecting back some large things as small and some small things as large. The Right gets to decide which items will be misshapen in which ways – and the mainstream press then reinforces the distortions. [. . .] This funhouse effect was first noticeable during the scandals of Ronald Reagan, when it didn’t seem to matter how much evidence was compiled about his complicity in grotesque human rights crimes including genocide in Central America, his tolerance of drug trafficking by his anticommunist clients, and his support for sophisticated propaganda operations to destroy troublesome journalists and other investigators. [etc.]
The ultimate questions finally and boldly arise and stand forth, and they read thus:
When does ‘enough’ become ‘too much’?
When is it time to act to prevent a future (or present, for that matter) ‘hostile takeover’ of the government of the United States?
How about today?
Open Thread. Have At It. But Remember: TAKE NO PRISONERS!