I was on Fox News on Memorial Day, talking about the Republicans’ pathetic attempts to tie President Obama in some way, shape or form to the “scandals” lower down in his Administration. Keep fighting the good fight, Republicans! The real problems this country is facing will just solve themselves….
In an essay for ColorLines examining the upsides and downsides of increased diversity in the new Congress, I write:
This is not tyranny of the majority; right wing conservative white men are no longer the majority in America. House Republicans represent a tyranny of the minority. Their ideological dominance is eroding as quickly as their demographics. Their current power and influence is merely an historical vestige. House Republicans are the appendix of the political body—useless but still able to rupture.
You can read the entire essay here.
For my latest Salon column, a poem:
‘Twas the night before the fiscal cliff, and all through the Senate and House
Not a Republican was budging, not even an ounce.
Back from vacation the President came
In hopes that Republicans might now act sane.
The cowardly Democrats put it all on the table
Like cuts to the elderly, poor and disabled.
So Republicans, thinking their ploy was a score,
Figured why not hold out until Democrats cut more!
You can read the entire piece here. I think you’ll enjoy it!
Politico’s Arena asked, “Should the GOP break their anti-tax pledge?” And I responded:
Elected officials should make pledges to the American people, NOT special interests in Washington.
Not only are Republicans right to abandon Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, but they never should have voluntarily shackled themselves to it in the first place.
Want to read the rest? It’s here.
At a recent campaign stop, Paul Ryan repeated a common conservative talking point in this election: “Government’s job is not to pick winners and losers in the economy.” No, but apparently Republicans think it’s their job to pick winners and losers in society more broadly — which is exactly what their new party platform does.
Republicans apparently welcome an expansive and intrusive role for government in engineering and re-engineering our social norms and relationships. Nowhere is that more clear than in the proposed 2012 Republican Party platform, which one platform committee member boasted is “the most conservative platform in modern history”. Here’s a look at who should win and who should lose in America, according to the Republican Party:
Losers: Gay people
The Republican platform committee rejected the input of gay Republican groups and embraced the extremist language of conservative hate groups to write that the battle over marriage equality is “an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values”. And rather than hiding behind a feigned moderate position that gay rights issues should be left to the states, the draft platform activists “applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other states to do so”. The Party also embraces altering the United States Constitution to take away rights from loving, same-sex couples. The platform section then goes on to insult not only gay families but single-parent households before ending with an ironic assertion that “all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity” — an assertion wholly undercut by the platform itself.
Winners: Fertilized eggs
While the Republican Party platform would take rights away from loving gay couples, the party would give more rights to fertilized eggs — promoting a constitutional “personhood” amendment to declare that, at the moment of conception, a microscopic fetus has the same legal rights and protections as living, breathing human being. The consequence of such a measure would be to not only to ban all abortions but restrict certain forms of birth control and fertility treatments and, potentially, subject women who even inquire about abortion services to criminal penalties. And despite the fact that over three-quarters of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or some cases, the Republican Party platform bans all abortions outright with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
Losers: Women in the military
Not only are women directly affected by the Republican platform’s draconian, anti-choice positions, the draft platform condemns “social experimentation” in the military and would move to keep women soldiers off the front lines of combat. Notably, the platform committee tried to paint this as an effort to protect women’s rights: “We support the advancement of women in the military…[and] We support women’s exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions.” It’s very kind of the Republican Party to want to support women to not get hurt by bumping their heads on the glass ceiling of opportunity by, benevolently, moving opportunities for women further out of reach.
Winners: Military contractors
Apparently not reluctant to “socially engineer” the United States Constitution, the Republican Party platform endorses a constitutional amendment that would make it infinitely more difficult, if not impossible, for our government to raise taxes. Yet, while the anti-choice amendment does not include any exceptions in cases of rape or incest, the tax amendment does include an exception — for military spending. And so while the Republican Party wants to downgrade the rights and liberties of women who have been raped and gay couples, it wants to protect the ability of military contractors (and donors) to bilk taxpayers. How else would the supposedly deficit-cutting GOP be able to propose increasing defense spending during a recession, as Paul Ryan does in his House budget plan.
Of course, if you don’t allow the government to raise taxes — ever — then it becomes hard to pay for vital public services like police and firefighters, for which many cities and states rely on federal spending to subsidize. This is a problem for unemployment, which despite over 29 months of consistent private sector job growth, has remained high largely because of public sector layoffs. What’s more, especially in tough economic times, not only are Americans more reliant on public spending like food stamps and unemployment checks, but cutting public jobs means cutting the spending that those workers put into our communities and small businesses. But certainly, in the wake of so many mass shooting incidents, Republicans must see the need for police and first responders who can make sure our kids get to school safely without needing to pack heat, right? Wrong…
Winners: Gun vigilantes
Although many police oppose so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws, the GOP platform embraces such laws and supports federal legislation to extend carry laws. And, in a sign that conservatives are more allegiant to ideology than facts, the head of the Family Research Council secured a plank in the Republican platform that would expand gun rights in the District of Columbia — in spite of the fact that the FRC was the recent target of a shooting. While even the vast majority of NRA members and other gun owners support basic, common sense gun laws, the Republican platform would put more guns in more people’s hands and let them use them in more legal ways — and yet limit the number of cops ensuring public safety.
In the Republican Party vision for the future of America, there are very clear winners and losers. This isn’t hyperbole. This isn’t a misrepresentation. This is the draft Republican Party platform, the clearest statement of the party’s priorities, crafted by its most prominent and celebrated leaders. If Republicans really object to government picking winners and losers, they should stop enshrining social castes in their party platform. And if Republicans really object to being labeled extremists, they should stop pursuing such an extremist agenda.
My latest column for Salon, about the hurricane that threatened the Republican National Convention:
The fact that Hurricane Isaac is threatening the Republican National Convention is not, as some Democrats have argued, evidence of karma. But it is evidence of climate change — undermining the best efforts of Republicans to deny that it even exists.
The evidence of climate change and its links to stronger and more frequent hurricanes is undeniable:
“There is no doubt that climate has changed,” IPCC’s Christopher Field told the Senate’s environmental and public workers committee. “There is also no doubt that a changing climate changes the risks of extremes” — such as the more extreme temperatures, droughts and wildfires we’ve seen quickly increase in this year alone. And yes, according to a study published in the journal Nature and James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, climate change is responsible for the lengthening of the hurricane season in the United States and increasing the severity and frequency of hurricanes
And yet, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and virtually every speaker at the RNC are climate change deniers. How can that be???
In my latest Salon column, I write that no matter how much conservatives try to deny it, Republicans indeed launched a war on women:
Despite the fact that our nation is climbing out of a historic recession and struggling with still-too-high unemployment and other serious challenges, the Republican leaders of the current, 112th Congress have declared passing anti-choice legislation a “top priority.” In fact, the third bill introduced in the Republican House of Representatives was not a jobs bill or a bill to rein in foreclosures but legislation to ban federal funding of abortions. Overall, the current Republican House has held eight votes on choice issues — the highest number since 2000.
And Mitt Romney’s hands are anything but clean. In the essay, I also detail how Mitt Romney flip flopped to become more conservative on women’s issues — and chose Paul Ryan as his running mate in no small part because of Ryan’s own extreme anti-choice record.
This evening, I joined guest host Laura Ingraham and fellow progressive Tara Dowdell to discuss the fall out from Todd Akin’s extremist anti-choice comments and the fact that the mainstream Republican Party has heartily embraced the ideas behind his remarks.
“They want to tell women who are raped that they have to have the baby of their rapist,” I say in the segment. “That’s not a war on rapists!”
And note the part where I call out Mitt Romney for flip flopping repeatedly on this issue — telling Mike Huckabee in October 2011 that Romney wishes there were no legalized abortions in America and supporting an extremist “personhood” amendment to the Constitution, and now walking back those statements and saying he supports exceptions for rape and incest. This after Romney, as a gubenatorial candidate, said he believes abortion should be safe and legal. He etch-a-sketched Huckabee, he etch-a-sketched Republican primary voters and now he’s trying to etch-a-sketch the American public. How can we ever know for sure what Romney thinks?
What are your thoughts?
In my latest piece for Newsweek’s Daily Beast, I look at the fact that while Republicans are great at the attention getting spectacle of politics, Democrats today? Not so much….
When Mitt Romney attack-dog-of-choice John Sununu this week called Barack Obama corrupt, his campaign “stupid,” and explained that the president “has no idea how the American system functions,” it was further proof that Republicans excel at attention-getting theatrics.
If Obama wants to win, he doesn’t have to learn how to be an American (he already is one, damn it). What Obama does have to learn is how to be a queen.
I don’t pay that much attention to politics,” says San Francisco drag queen impresario VivvyAnne ForeverMORE! “But I know how to get people’s attention.”
“Democrats think the right idea will hold everyone’s attention,” says ForeverMORE! They’re wrong.
Especially when the audience isn’t entirely on board—say, straight tourists who stray into a gay bar, or swing voters—that’s when theatrics matter most. “They might not like the fact that a guy is wearing a dress and singing,” says ForeverMORE!, “but if I shoot glitter out of my head or stand on my hands, they love it.”
Sometime after President Obama took office, Republicans commandeered the political stage.
The article goes on to give advice to the Obama campaign about getting its dramatic mojo back. You can read the rest here.
In his very valuable book, Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, Professor Stephen Duncombe writes:
The problem, as I see it, comes down to reality. Progressives believe in it, Bush’s people believe in creating it
Today, House Republicans are voting for a 33rd time to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. As before, the vote will pass the House but will be shut down by the Senate. So why do it?
Republicans understand the value of political theatrics. Making Attorney General Eric Holder jump through hoop after hoop and then, even after he cooperates, voting to hold him in contempt. Holding our nation’s credit rating hostage to make a political point about recession-driven deficits. Shouting from the rooftops about gas prices and Solyndra and Obama’s alleged culpability, despite the fact that gas prices are driven by foreign policy and Solyndra’s loans were initiated by George W. Bush and sank by foreign markets. In the theater, reality doesn’t matter. What matters is how the audience reacts to the show.
Frankly, it’s easy to argue that Republicans look stupid for voting down Obamacare yet again and failing yet again. But the fact is, Democrats are the stupid ones for failing to equally grasp and use such theatrics.
Case in point: The Democratic fear of the filibuster. So the Republicans threaten to filibuster, well, every damn thing that is good for the middle class and our economy. So what? Let them! Democrats repeatedly putting popular bills up for a vote and Republicans repeatedly filibustering and stonewalling is precisely the kind of theatrics that don’t just tell the American public that Republicans are obstructionists but show it.
The Democrats did a version of this once. Democrats only had 59 votes to pass Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. So what did Democrats do? Call a vote anyway and hold a press conference afterwards, shaming those who voted against the law as standing with Wall Street against Main Street. And then they held the same vote the next day, followed by a press conference. And then the next day. And then a Republican defected and voted for the bill. How do you know this was a creative and effective tactic? Because Democrats haven’t employed it since.
Barack Obama and the current Democratic leadership repeatedly fail to grasp that Republicans right now are interested solely in theatrics and not legislation. And so the President and Democratic leadership keep proposing middle-of-the-road legislation under the sick illusion that compromise is possible. Meanwhile, the Republicans are merely looking for material for their next big show. This is how a proposal to cut taxes for 98% of American families gets labeled “class warfare” and the conservative-created individual mandate in health care reform becomes “socialism”. This isn’t about bringing guns and knives to a fight, but clowns and jesters. Maybe President Obama should do more than raise money from Hollywood but actually get their advice on scripting a better performance.
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