A.P.: “Republican Losses Obscure US Drift To Right” – We didn’t “drift” we were pushed!

The National Memo printed this state of the state of politics piece from the A.P. this morning that lays out that, despite public opinion and the GOP losing the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections, the country has moved rightward politically.  

Conservative efforts have pushed the government rightward on taxes, spending and other policies, despite losses on some social fronts. One might say Republicans keep losing battles but winning wars.

But they don’t have the courage to say why and how that happened. We didn’t just “drift” rightward as if by a zephyr that just came along, an act of God, no explanation necessary. Just the contrary.  After the Goldwater debacle of 1964 wealthy right wing activists organized and developed a nearly 50 year long effort to PUSH politics and the judiciary to accept and adopt a pro-business, anti-regulatory, anti-tax, anti-worker agenda.  Their adherents in private talked mostly economic issues, but in public used cultural issues to hoodwink middle class and working class people (Nixon’s Silent Majority, the Christian Coalition) to vote for politicians who talk a big culture warrior game but under the radar were moving the country further and further towards policies favoring the rich.  The surface culture wars were mostly a failure, but they succeeded spectacularly in driving the Overton Window to the right on economic issues while devastating the middle classes. (See “Nixonland” by Rick Perlstein).

We continue on an inexorable leftward push culturally towards more freedom, justice and equality, to the chagrin of the ultimately flaccid religious-right culture warriors. The only real exception over the last 30 years was in the debate on guns, which has recently taken a severe turn leftward and may well mark the end of the NRA’s 30 year reign of terror over politicians.  Also, abortion rights have been gnawed away at representing the only real “victories” the religious right can claim – to have made it harder for women in some states to actually get an abortion. That struggle continues, but I suspect the growing political activism of young women will mark a liberal political turnaround in that battle as well in the coming years.

It is ironic that the East-coast, Wall Street economic elitist segment of the GOP and the western  libertarian Goldwater wing needed the religious right typified by old Christian Coalition in order to get Ronald Reagan and the Bushes elected and implement their economic policies. The Wall Streeters and libertarians don’t, for the most part, share the cultural conservatism and religiosity of the Pat Robertsons.  And ultimately, the anti-gay, anti-choice, pro prayer in schools people have seen their power to pontificate and move elections erode except in the reddest of red states.  Without the veil of God, guns and gays the plutocrats are naked and have trouble selling their agenda. 

But for 40 years on economic issues, neo-liberalism, which is a misnomer that represents a very conservative, plutocratic approach to finance, was very successfully insinuated into every economic debate and pushed the country very much rightward by this coalition on the right. This has been a very deliberate and planned effort by “movement conservatives” funded by very familiar names in ultra conservative and libertarian aristocratic circles.  Millionaires and billionaires like the Walton Family, the Koch Brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife, the Bradleys, Coors, etc. were recruited and organized into a concerted effort to push policies, especially in the areas of taxation and regulation, more amenable to wealthy plutocrats. Not just here in America, but through the IMF and the World Fund to spread the libertarian theories developed by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics, to the rest of the world.  (Please see “The Shock Doctrine, the Rise of Disaster Capitalism” by Naomi Klein) This is how a lobbyist like Grover Norquist can become one of the most influential people in D.C., even though until recently most Americans had never heard his name. Now almost everybody with an ear towards American politics is familiar with his no-tax pledge that was signed by almost every Republican elected in the last 10 years, and more than a few Democrats. 

GOP leaders and tea party activists routinely describe Americans as overtaxed. By historical standards, at least, it’s a questionable claim. In 1981, the top marginal income tax rate was 70 percent. Today it is 39.6 percent.

Federal tax revenues exceeded 20 percent of the gross domestic product in 2000. Under Obama, they have not exceeded 15.8 percent a year.

They quietly developed a long term strategy to overcome the democratic inclinations of the country and reverse the New Deal, the Great Society, and all liberal influences on governing. Think tanks were funded, newspapers and radio stations were purchased, colleges and universities were endowed.

  • Over time conservatives took over AM talk radio.  
  • The American Legislative Exchange is developed to push legislation (and legislators) at the state level, developing conservative ideas and politicians.
  • The Federalist Society indoctrinates young lawyers with conservative legal principals in order to get these young activists on the bench and over time, one judicial activist at a time, they developed the very conservative courts we have today, including the Supreme Court, that never finds in favor of individuals or unions over businesses, ever.

This effort was not counterbalanced by any similar effort on the left, on the contrary, the left seemed to become a moribund force in American politics after Watergate. The activists of the 60s seemingly declared victory and went home after Watergate, the end of the Vietnam war and the women’s liberation movement. As if to say, we have bell bottoms, what more could we want? In my opinion the left sat back and took it and did not fight back in any coherent fashion until the outrages of the Bush administration reawakened them and the candidacy of Howard Dean gave them voice.

Just look at the fact that Richard M. Nixon, a bona fide conservative in 1968, proposed a more liberal agenda than Al Gore or Bill Clinton did in the 90s and 00s.  It seems almost mind blowing that a conservative Republican created the EPA, signed the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, was a gun control proponent and had a plan for universal health care that would make the Tea Party scream “Communism!” Obamacare itself was based on proposals by conservative think tanks like Heritage.

But that’s just the point, these shadowy conservative forces have moved the Republican Party way off the map rightward and in its wake pulled the Democrats as well towards a more centrist stance. 

Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz says the Democratic Party has become “essentially a centrist party, and has remained so despite losing its right wing since the 1960s as a result of the realignment of the South.” Meanwhile, he said, the GOP “has moved rather dramatically to the right since the ’60s.” The political middle ground, he said, “has also shifted well to the right of where it was 30 or 40 years ago on most issues.”

So something like an EPA today would be unthinkable from the Republicans and pretty much dead on arrival from the Democrats. Very much like climate control legislation – cap and trade. The GOP has adopted skepticism on science that would boggle the minds of the enlightened Republicans of the 60s, and in so doing have dragged Blue Dog Democrats by their tails back into the muck with them, leaving progressives alone on the field proposing ideas that would have been universally accepted 40 years ago as practical, scientifically sound, marketbased solutions!

Obamacare is perfectly illustrative of how now, 40+ years into the plan, 30+ years into the indoctrination of conservatives of the evils of Democrats and liberals, the thinkers that began movement conservativism have, like Frankenstein, lost control of their monster. So Heritage comes up with a market-based way to cover more people with health care (something even republicans once cared about) and Republicans push that idea in the 90s as a conservative alternative to the universal healthcare that they dread is coming. But when Democrats adopt such ideas as Hilarycare in 1993 or Obamacare in 2008, instead of declaring ideological victory, these plans are attacked mercilessly because (1) can’t allow a victory for a Democrat, and (2)  the true believers on the ground, the Rush Limbaugh/Fox News audience that has swallowed Democratic demonization for decades, impulsively declares these conservative ideas “socialism” because they came from Democrats. The GOP wizards behind the curtain find they can no longer control the mob mentality against their own ideas, so out of self-preservation even they have to turn and, laughably, denounce ideas they previously proposed.

So now you have a GOP that has an ever diminishing quiver of ideas that they can take out and speechify about.  They can talk about their goals of small government and low taxes, but cannot come up with actual governing philosophies that people actually like.  Taxes are already as low as they’ve ever been and the average American believes that in the face of growing inequality and a struggling economy taxes should be raised on the wealthy and we should spend more on jobs and the middle class.

The “thinkers” of the past generation that developed the plan are now passing into irrelevancy and the party has been taken over by the “feelers” who internalized the now 40 years of propaganda, 30 years on radio, almost 20 years on TV. You have a generation that bought into the lies told for political purposes that were created as a “a beard” to mask the real agenda of pro-plutocrat policies.  They are outraged, but their outrage is incoherent and aimed at the people who are actually on their side like Occupy Wall Street or President Obama. They have lost credibility but like a zombie army fighting only on muscle memory of what motivated them when they lived, they swing wildly not recognizing how ineffective they are.  They are the Tea Party and they have taken over the asylum.  

The conservative master plan hatched after the Goldwater landslide is now on life support as the left finally fights back with both hands.  The problem is the conservative judiciary, like a sleeper cell, is still there, typified by an evermore out-of-step Antonin Scalia, making the left’s battle back to a more equitable society just that much more more difficult. 

http://www.nationalmemo.com/republican-losses-obscure-us-drift-to-right/

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_18?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+shock+doctrine+by+naomi+klein&sprefix=the+shock+doctrine%2Cstripbooks%2C131

http://www.amazon.com/Nixonland-Rise-President-Fracturing-America/dp/B003E7ET0S

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Scalia Calls Voting Rights Act a “Perpetuation of Racial Entitlement”

We have a RWNJ supreme court. That is such a pitifully sad statement to have to make but there you go. Scalia, Alito and Thomas are Tea Party through and through. Roberts (sigh) does have the Obamacare decision on his record to make me think again before lumping him with the others, but his leadership on Citizen’s United is very Tea Party nutsy kookoo. They continually go out of their way to undermine well established law that conservatives hate and therefore disagree with.  And that’s what makes them nuts.  Unlike previous Supreme Courts these 4, sometimes joined by Anthony Kennedy, are ready to dump what other courts have approved over and over, things that have worked to ameliorate injustice or inequality. As Federalist Society ultra-conservatives they do not  feel the same way towards injustice and inequality that most Americans do.  They see these things as by-products of capitalism and yes, life in general, that we cannot and should not do anything about.  It’s unfortunate for those unlucky bastards that are on the bottom end, but there it is and it’s sheer arrogance on the part of liberals to try to change God’s creation.

Thusly, if God gave you a shit ton of money, you should not have to apologize for that. You’re the fortunate one, more worthy, not less. You should be able to use that money to influence our democracy. The constitution protects your God given right to speech.

Thusly, if you’re black and live in Alabama and the local powers that be feel you should not be able to vote, well then you don’t vote, because the states get to decide that. Any interference in that mechanism is a “racial entitlement.”

One could go through almost every issue the court has decided on in the last 5 years and find the same kind of conservative thinking that makes no sense in the real world, in the America that we understand this to be. But this isn’t just a philosophical conflict between utlitarian do-gooders who want a functioning democracy versus so-called “originalists” more dedicated to the constitution than the rest of us. No, because on the contrary these originalists have to actually ignore the constitution as written and intended to get to where they want to go.

The first amendment does not mention money. None of the bill of rights mentions money.  It’s purely an aristocratic dream to equate money to speech and say that neither can be limited. 

You have to ignore Section 2 of the 15th amendment to strike down the voting rights act. 

The United States Constitution, Amendment XV: “SECTION 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. SECTION 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

So what kind of jurist would ignore the 15th amendment, the entire record of discrimination and infringement on the franchise perpetuated by the states of the old confederacy, and see trying to guarantee minorities the right to vote as a “racial entitlement?”  Right wing nut job wackadoodles. And that’s sad as all hell.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2013/02/scalia-attacks-congress-for-renewing-voting-rights-act.php?ref=fpa

Sequester May Cost MORE?

Actually, given that this comes from Congress, and was never actually expected to come to fruition, would it surprise anybody that it totally doesn’t even achieve what it was intended to do? I thought not.

Besides the fact that putting us back into a recession would put the economy in reverse, specifically with regard to the military sequester, if nearly 800,000 military personnel are put on furlough, and they do jobs that are indeed important, those jobs will get done by… CONTRACTORS. Less efficient, inflexible, nonreviewable, nonanswerable to the people fucking contractors. So there’s that.

Maybe that’s why the GOP is cool with swallowing this poison pill and declaring it nummy and nutritious.

Oy! 

Whatever the govt. does and the Koch Bros. want. renewable energy GROWS

I’ve seen numerous solar panel arrays go up in my neighborhood recently, on houses and over parking lots, in front of the the numerous corporate headquarters in central Jersey… It’s not happening fast enough because of the drag caused by the criminal unresponsiveness of our government due to the assinine efforts of the climate deniers, but it’s happening make no mistake. Rational people get it.  For financial reasons if not concern for the simmering husk of post apocalyptic poop we’re going to leave the next generation, people are responding.

  • Non-hydro renewable electricity sources increased by 12.8% in 2012 over 2011;
  • Renewables were 5.4% of net U.S. electrical generation;
  • Solar increased by 138.9% year over year, while wind grew 16.6%

All while overall electrical generation dropped 1.1% (conservation is not just noble, it saves bucks baby)

  • Petroleum coke and liquids down 24.1% (take that ExxonMobil); 
  • Coal down by 12.5%, it fell from 50% of the nation’s overall electrical gen. a decade ago to just 37.4% now and dropping (take that Mitch McDonnell and Bob Murray);
  • Nuclear (clean? Yeah, but um, Fukushima!) down under 19% for first time

If we could just get the maniacs like Sen. Imhofe away from the levers of power we could really and truly end the burning of carbon based fuels, sooooooon!

Technical advances, falling costs, and the desire to address climate change have combined to rapidly expand the contribution of renewable energy to the nation’s electrical generation. With the right policy incentives, one can foresee these cleaner energy sources providing the bulk of the nation’s electrical needs within a generation.

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/02/eias-year-end-electrical-generation-report-reveals-significant-renewable-growth?cmpid=rss

Boehner and GOP have given up trying

The GOP would lose more popularity every time Boehner speaks if they hadn’t already hit bottom. Now that may seem like a glib line, but I mean it. Polls are showing that the POTUS is absolutely beating the GOP in the PR war over sequester, as he has on each of these silly issues, as he did in the ELECTION. And yet they persist in their ridiculous, ill conceived and factually flimsy attempt to make people think that our latest manufactured budget crisis is everybody’s fault but theirs.

Boehner, with another layer of tan from his vacation golf, continues to flat out mislead by claiming the ball is in the Senate’s court because of budgets the last Congress passed (they expired, so um, NO!). Or claim the POTUS is somehow to blame for everything because he’s taking his arguments to the people around the country. It’s easy to say Boehner and his GOP minions are not fooling anybody, but they are – the same minimal information minority they’ve been talking to almost exclusively since Mitt Romney admitted in Boca Raton that the GOP believes they are the only real Americans and at least 47% of the country are unreachable to them. Turns out it was 53%… and growing. Only 22% of people self-identify as Republcans in a recent poll. 

“The president has known for 16 months that this sequester was looming out there when the super committee failed to come to an agreement,” Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill. “And so for 16 months, the president has been traveling all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with Senate leaders in order to try to forge an agreement over there in order to move a bill.”

So Obama was wrong to run for President for a year. He should have let Romney have the field to himself. It’s so unleaderlike to campaign.

In the real world Boehner is just teeing up killer responses by Pelosi and Reid making Boehner seem stupid and silly. But he cares not because in Boehner’s increasingly smaller Fox News world his audience will just laugh at Pelosi and Reid’s rejoinders, if they hear them at all. The conservative bubble immunizes the 22% from the truth. So it costs Boeher nothing with them.

Unfortunately, the story does not end there. When you have mainstream miscreants like Woodward and the usual Politico hacks bending the truth into a pretzel in order to excuse the GOP from its culpability in this entire fiasco, the water is muddied. While the Dems continue to win the PR war, once again the essential truth is deranged so that the win is not the total annihilation it should be. The media continues to prop up a joke of a national party and the clown car they came out of.  

The simple fact is that the sequester was, as Ezra Klein described it, a punt. In the summer 2011 debt ceiling deal, everybody knew that there was an ideological logjam and nothing could be decided. So they came up with sequester, and putting off the big conflict until after the election, because (1) it was so poisonous it would motivate the two sides, and (2) the election would decide which ideological side the country favored. But here we are with the Democrats and Obama the clear winners but the GOP so intractable in the face of their defeat that they are ready to swallow the poison and claim they liked it.

Can’t Stop the Future – Buh Bye Coal

 Columbus, OH – February 25 – Today a coalition of citizen groups, states and U.S. EPA announced a landmark settlement agreement with American Electric Power (AEP) requiring AEP to stop burning coal by 2015 at three power plants in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. AEP also agreed to replace a portion of these coal plants with new wind and solar investments in Indiana and Michigan, bringing more clean energy on line to meet the region’s electricity needs. 

 This is a drop in the bucket, yes. But this is going on everywhere, despite the kicking and screaming of the GOP, Koch Brothers and all their anachronistic carbon burning cronies.  People on the ground are smarter about the future and their options, including some of the retrograde industry companies.  Given just a little push by the EPA, smart companies are voluntarily closing the oldest dirtiest coal plants and getting into renewables. There are at least three big solar panel projects that have gone up in my neighborhood in the last 2 years.  This is no-brainer territory.

Coal-fired power plants are the nation’s largest source of mercury, sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution, carbon pollution and many other deadly pollutants that can trigger heart attacks and contribute to respiratory problems. According to estimates from the Clean Air Task Force, 203 deaths, 310 heart attacks, 3,160 asthma attacks, and 188 emergency room visits per year will be averted once the Muskingum River, Tanners Creek and Big Sandy power plants stop burning coal.

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2013/02/25-1?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

 

 

This is not the debt you are looking for…

Briefly, the fix the debt chorus isn’t really freaked out of the current debt, which… 

would pose essentially zero threat to the country’s fiscal health, as the ongoing growth of the economy would send our debt-to-GDP ratio dropping like a rock.

What they’re so hot and bothered about is the supposed debt coming in the future as entitlements are predicted to explode with the retirement of the baby boomers. HOWEVER, trying to predict budgets for 20 or 30 years from now is a precarious, if not silly exercise.

 Imagine trying to model the 2011 economy in 1985. Things you’d never see coming include (among other things) the Internet, fracking, massive advances in computing power, the renewable energy boom, three wars, a massive recession, and Harry Potter. And predictions can be hard even over shorter time frames. In 1995, CBO predicted the deficit in 2000 would be well over $200 billion. We ran a surplus of $236 billion.

Which makes it doubly puzzling that anybody is demanding to balance the budget now (right now, yesterday!), in the midst of a weak recovery to a huge recession and fighting with Paul Krugman as to whether we wouldn’t be very much better off by spending more now to create jobs and raise some taxes on the wealthy and grow our way to balance rather than fruitless austerity.  The more the fix the debt people yell and seem to purposely misunderstand and misrepresent how the economy works, the more you have to wonder what their real agenda is. 

Refusing to tackle that all-too-real crisis with the full range of economic resources at our disposal is a shameful moral and political failure. Especially when the reason we’re refusing is fear of shadows cast on the wall.

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/02/24/1626801/debt-does-not-exist/