The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 15th, 2011: THIS EARTH IS NOT FLAT

Published in the Pawling Press, Pawling, NY, Friday, September 9th, 2011, under the title “Not So Flat Earth”

Note: I wrote the following in response to an opinion piece by the Pawling Press‘s conservative columnist, Mr. Paul Keyishian. Mr. Keyishian’s piece was entitled “Achieving Ideological Balance at the Federal Level”; it should be available in full at http://www.pawlingpress.com next week.

I found it aptly ironic that both Frank Matheis [liberal columnist] and Paul Keyishian, in their opinion pieces of September 2nd, referred to the idea that no sane person these days believes that the world is flat. However, while Mr. Matheis went on to discuss the dismissal of science by climate change deniers, including many of today’s prominent Republicans and Tea Partiers, Mr. Keyishian took a different route. Mr. Keyishian’s column centered around the idea that, while “established scientific facts” are either right or wrong, opposing political philosophies are “not so cut and dried.” While this is true to a certain degree, some political philosophies are readily proven to be wrong, simply by looking at history.

I am compelled to dismiss Mr. Keyishian’s base premise where he “assume[s] that each side of the political spectrum has something meaningful to contribute…” or “that we all possess the sincere desire to ‘even things out’ politically.” Anyone who has paid attention to the political arena in the last few years since President Obama was elected has to realize that, even before the 2010 mid-terms, the majority of sitting Republicans became the party of Obstruction, the party of “No!” and even “Hell, NO!” Senior Republican Mitch McConnell outright stated that the party’s goal was to “make President Obama a one-term President”, which doesn’t exactly sound like meaningful contribution in my view. The only solution that the Republicans offered to mitigate the effects of the recession and the rampant, increasing unemployment rate were tax cuts, especially for the wealthy and big corporations.

Here’s where we go back to the ‘flat-earth/established science’ idea: Republicans, and I mean every single Republican Congressperson and Senator, still pronounce that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations actually create jobs and must be continued, some believe permanently. This flies completely in the face of established historical fact. Historical facts tell us that, when President Clinton raised taxes, including on the wealthy and corporations, the country gained millions of jobs (and provided his successor with a budget surplus); historical facts also tell us that, when George W. Bush reduced taxes on the wealthy and big corporations, the country LOST millions of jobs. Republicans paid no attention to the burgeoning deficit during the Bush years, but suddenly it became the number one priority when a Democrat, President Obama, took office. (Sorry, that one should be filed under “Hypocrisy”, not “Established Science”.)

Mr. Keyishian’s dream scenario that having a Republican President, a majority Democratic House, and a more-or-less evenly split Senate would help to make Congress, and therefore the country, work better together to accomplish ideologically central, moderate legislation, is just that: a dream scenario. First, this idea is totally dependent on the premise that the members of the House and Senate are all reality-based, competent and honest public servants. Unfortunately, there are very few of those to be found, in this age of big-money-influenced politics. Take the big money out of politics with real, effective campaign finance reform and lobbying reform, and this scenario may become slightly less dreamlike. Second, let’s turn Mr. Keyishian’s scenario on its head and look at the current makeup of the legislative and executive branches: we have a Democratic President, a majority Republican House, and a more-or-less evenly split Senate. If Mr. Keyishian’s hypothesis held true, wouldn’t one have to believe that there would be more cooperation, compromise, and resulting ideologically central, moderate legislation, instead of what is actually happening in today’s Congress?

Lastly, the scenario that Mr. Keyishian proposes has Michele Bachmann as his choice for the Presidency. Like most of the Republican candidates, Ms. Bachmann is a climate-science denier and doesn’t believe in evolution. She has also signed the Grover Norquist pledge (compulsory for Republicans, although one Congressman just recently disavowed the pledge) of no additional taxes, not for anyone, not ever. This past weekend, Ms. Bachman went as far as saying that she ‘would consider’ the idea of ZERO taxes on corporations. Ms. Bachmann has also signed a ‘no abortions for any reason’ pledge, and is anti-homosexual: she and her husband truly believe that one can “pray away the gay.” To sum up, Michele Bachmann is a “Flat-Earther”, and not someone who is qualified to lead the United States of America, especially not in this century.

By Jane E. Schneider

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