Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’

The Right’s ‘Nobama’ Melodrama

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

By Emily Theroux

In the continuum between “fiscal cliff” brinksmanship and “right-to-work” trickery, I can’t decide whether to laugh, throw rocks, or avert my gaze in disgust from the spectacle of angry old white men, locked in a grudge match with President Obama and behaving churlishly.

The past week has been a mash-up of bad actors and worse theatrics. Which should we ring down the curtain on first?

 

The Speaker of the House resorts to high-risk stagecraft

John Boehner isn’t entirely sure who he’s representing in the fiscal cliff fiasco, but he’s certainly had to tiptoe through the muck left over after the Republican campaign splattered like an overripe tomato against the brick wall of the electorate. Republicans have no idea what they’re mutating into – since, at this early stage, it’s still bubbling up from the primordial ooze of spent teabags, long-form personhood certificates, forcible rape-rap, and amnesty antics into its own form of lame-duck lunacy.

Among Boehner’s recent one-liners:

  • (Re: his fiscal cliff avoidance plan, which proposes cutting $600 billion in “entitlement” spending, partly by raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, but doesn’t raise the marginal tax rate on rich people; collecting $200 billion in revenues by closing unspecified income tax deductions and loopholes; then trimming billions more by slashing agency budgets, eliminating other mandatory programs, and reducing beneficiaries’ cost-of-living increases – all without offering specifics or even mentioning the payroll tax, unemployment, or the coming debt-ceiling debacle): “A credible plan that deserves serious consideration by the White House.”
  • (Re: President Obama’s standing offer of generating $1.4 trillion in revenues (revised downward from an initial figure of $1.6 trillion in an attempt to appease Tea Party holdouts) by reinstating Clinton-era tax rates for the extremely wealthy; cutting entitlement spending by $400 billion; adding another $50 billion in stimulus spending; and requiring that Congress cede power over raising the debt limit to the executive branch): Obama’s “la-la land offer.”

Why is Speaker Boehner slow-walking an eventual deal with Democrats? The National Review’s Robert Costa said the House Weeper may be facing a leadership challenge from no-nonsense conservative Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, if Boehner colludes with moderates to achieve the dreaded “compromise.” Moreover, the GOP’s festering Tea Party flank isn’t in any hurry to cave in to raising their single-minded constituents’ taxes. Creative gerrymandering by Republican-controlled state legislatures may have put the kibosh on reaching common ground.

Worrying the bejesus out of small business owners (who fear losing customers to Medicare cuts) and the general public is the looming prospect of  economic collapse. The Congressional Budget Office warned in August that the fiscal cliff impasse, if not resolved by January (when the Bush tax cuts expire and the extreme “sequestration” budget cuts kick in), would hurtle the U.S. economy into another recession. As International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde cautioned Sunday, failure to reach “a comprehensive deal” before January will crash the fragile recovery, reverse recent gains in employment, and reduce growth to “zero.”

The House Speaker (who holds more power at this moment than anyone with his self-serving mindset, indecisive temperament, and appalling incompetence ever merited) dithers while America burns. Republican intransigence continues to edge us closer every day to plunging headlong into catastrophe. We can’t afford to play these dangerous games with the future of the U.S. economy so that Boehner and the House’s far-right cohort can “save face.”

John Boehner needs to stop worrying about saving his own job and focus on saving his country instead. He might go down in flames among the rabble-rousers in his own caucus, but he’ll also improve his chances of going down in history as a principled patriot rather than the worst Speaker the U.S. House of Representatives has ever had.

 

Krauthammer’s cruel logic: Right-to-work equals lower wages

Yesterday, Michigan’s lame-duck state legislature passed the Orwellian-sounding “right-to-work” law, which labeled union-busting “freedom of choice” while its proponents proclaimed it “pro-worker” and “pro-choice.” With a stroke of his pen, Governor Rick Snyder vanquished organized labor in the birthplace of the United Auto Workers union.

Right-to-work laws, as Ezra Klein explained in The Washington Post, don’t give you the right to work. “They give you the right to refuse to pay union dues when you work for a union shop, even though you get the wages the union bargained for, and the benefits the union bargained for, and the grievance process the union bargained for.”

If you live in Michigan and watch your salary and benefits steadily decline over the next several years, don’t ask Charles Krauthammer to cry for you.

During a Fox News “Special Report,” the insufferable Dr. K averred that successful American auto unions like the UAW resulted from a postwar “anomaly” that no longer exists in a globally competitive world.

“I sympathize with the unions, but the fact is that in a global economy, where you have to compete on wages and other elements of production, you can either have high wages with low employment, or you can, as Obama would say, ‘spread around the wealth’,” Krauthammer (who worked for years as a shrink!) said with sublime sensitivity, unable to resist a rapier-like pun. “In the right-to-work states, unemployment is 6.9 percent, and in the non-right-to-work states, it’s 8.7. So you can choose to have fewer workers who enjoy higher, inflated, unnatural wages, uncompetitive wages, or you can have competitive wages and more people employed, more people with the dignity of a job, and less unemployment and more taxation and more activity. I think it’s the right choice, but I understand how it’s a wrenching choice.”

Sorry, Charlie, but, as the wingnuts like to say, “That dog don’t hunt.” If CEOs and other company managers weren’t awarded salaries totally out of proportion to those earned by their employees, gazillion-dollar annual bonuses regardless of performance, corporate welfare, tax credits for outsourcing jobs, “golden parachutes,” and other incentives to gamble away corporate profits instead of reinvesting a portion of them in living wages, well-deserved benefits, and decent pension programs for their most valuable assets – the human kind – the economy wouldn’t be in this godawful mess.

If you have no heart, at least have the sense to keep your deficiencies to yourself!

 

Scalia compares ‘homosexual sodomy’ with murder

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has once again stepped in a steaming heap of controversy over a topic under consideration by the Court. During a nationwide book tour, Scalia brought up “having moral feelings against homosexuality,” only two days after the Court agreed to hear two cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman.”

During a speech at Princeton University promoting his new book, Reading Law, Scalia responded to a question from a gay student about why his writings compare “laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder,” the Associated Press reported Monday. The justice opined that legislative bodies can prohibit acts they believe to be “immoral.”

If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have (them) against murder? Can we have (them) against other things?” Scalia wondered aloud. What, this caused me to marvel, should this man’s personal musings about morality have to do with interpreting the law?

The questioner, freshman Duncan Hosie of San Francisco, remained unconvinced by this outrageous line of chatter, even though the justice insisted “he (was) not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both.” Hosie told the AP reporter that he believes Scalia’s writings tend to “dehumanize” gays.

Scalia should immediately recuse himself from deliberating on any case about which he has already publicly revealed his prejudices – something he apparently has no intention of doing, since blurting out two months ago at a similar event, held at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, “Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.” As far as Scalia, who calls himself a “textualist,” is concerned, if the Constitution didn’t ban the death penalty or preclude restrictions on abortion and sodomy, then neither should he.

As Michael Tomasky concluded in Time, “What blithering nonsense! … And Scalia is a bigot.”

Romney Wins, Snowe Quits!

Monday, February 27th, 2012

 

Sen. Olympia Snowe ... she's tired of congressional bickering

By Bob Gaydos

Having managed to insult and offend, in no particular order, women, immigrants, gays, union members, middle-class workers, college students and John F. Kennedy, the Republican presidential primary circus left Michigan and Arizona behind as it trudged on its dreary way with its sights set on Ohio and Tennessee and, ultimately, New York. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

After a scare in which it seemed for a while that he would actually lose the state in which he was born and his father served as governor, Mitt Romney barely prevailed in Michigan. Enough GOP voters there held their noses and voted for the I-can’t help-reminding-you-I’m-rich Romney rather than the God-is-on-my-side Satan-fighter Rick Santorum. Newt Gingrich continued to eat the furniture, but nobody paid much attention and Ron Paul was still a man without a century.

It’s enough to make a sensible, savvy, lifetime Republican politician proclaim, “Enough! I quit!”

Which is what 33-year veteran Maine Senator Olympia Snowe did while her fellow Republicans were still voting in Michigan and Arizona. One of the very few voices of Republican bipartisanship in Congress, Snowe said in a press release: “Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate.”

True, that statement does not specifically target her own party, but as one of the few remaining Republican moderates in Congress, she knows full well the dangerous turn towards the cliff that her party has taken. Snowe was the only Republican in the Senate to vote in favor of President Obama’s health care reform plan. Her vote helped get it out of committee to the floor for a vote. But she was the subject of such intense pressure and threats from the vocal rightwing fringe that has dominated the GOP of late, she voted against the plan on its final vote.

That doesn’t mean she forgot what happened. I have felt for some time that moderate Republicans — the kind once referred to in New York as Rockefeller Republicans — were in need of a new party, They have let the loonies usurp their party, its platform and its principles, forgoing the “compassionate conservatism” it once promoted for one that chastises the poor and rewards the rich, that emphasizes prayer and denigrates education, that discourages contraception and rails at food stamps, that celebrates only its narrow version of marriage, wants everyone who speaks a language other than English to go back where they came from and, far too often, acts as if it wishes women like Snowe would know their proper place in society. That would not be in the U.S. Senate or in a military uniform, or probably not even doing scientific research in a major university for that matter.

There really is no place in today’s Republican Party for the likes of Snowe or her Maine Senate colleague, Susan Collins, also a Republican. It’s time for a third party, perhaps made up of disgruntled centrists from both parties — Democrats have their partisan zealots as well — that, unlike the Libertarians who idolize Ron Paul, could actually govern in the 21st Century.

In fact, as I was trying to focus my own thoughts on this issue, I discovered that Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine had already gotten there. In his Daily Intel blog commenting on Snowe’s retirement, he noted the specific nature of her statement. In particular, this: “As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us. It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate. I intend to help give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the promise that is unique to America.”

Chait speculates Snow may be thinking of joining Americans Elect, a third party claiming many disaffected Republicans and Democrats, dedicated to avoiding partisanship and offering a civil form of governing, probably slightly more conservative than Obama’s. The party’s rules go so far as to require its presidential and vice presidential candidates to come from different parties.

Too idealistic, too wacky to succeed? Once upon a time, that’s what they said about the men who created a new party made up of those tired of the rabid pro- and anti-slavery rhetoric that dominated the day. That Republican Party has now badly lost its way. Snowe and others who agree with her should let the tea partiers and evangelists and assorted know-nothings do with the GOP as they will. Start a new party. And don’t make your constituents hold their noses to vote.

bob@zestoforange.com