Saturday, August 25, 2012

GOP War on...American Indians?

A war on women.  A war on Latinos.  A war on gay and lesbian Americans.  A war on African Americans. War on seniors. War on students.  A war on young, old and non-white voters. War on the poor.  War on the middle class. War on the Earth. War on the truth. Not to mention wars on Iran, Russia and China. Aside from the super rich, is there anybody the GOP has not declared war on?

How about war on the Indians?  After all, isn't how it all started?

Republican National Committee leader Pat Rogers wrote emails to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez’s staff asserting that attending the tribal summit of  the state's Native American tribes “dishonored” Gen. George Armstrong Custer.

"The state is going to hell," Rogers wrote.

GOPers are finding ways every day to add new meaning to the term "reactionary."  Rogers manages to return to those thrilling days of the 19th century--actually the 18th and 17th as well. 

Here in Humboldt the wounds of Indian massacres are still healing.  This won't help.

Sadly, this is not new.  GOPers criticized President Obama for convening a national tribal summit. Though it was GOPer Senator Brownback in 2005 who first sponsored a congressional resolution to apologize to the Cherokee and Native Americans for the Trail of Tears, it didn't pass until 2009.  When President Obama signed it, Bryan Fischer of the Rabid Right American Family Association objected that the US had nothing to apologize for.  (The above watercolor, Shadow of the Owl commemorating the Trail of Tears is from the Guthrie Studios.  Below is the Wiyot Tribe Sacred Sites logo by tribal member Leona Wilkinson, commemorating the massacre on Indian Island in Eureka, CA in 1860.)

Not that the American Indians are a big voting block.  But this tidbit is sure to make the rounds.  Another 0% group for the GOP?

Is there a form of racism they aren't ready to embrace?  Look out, Asian Americans.  You may well be next.

Friday, August 24, 2012


With his remarks in Michigan, Mitt Romney unmasked the GOP campaign racism referred to in the post below, and made it top of the ticket official.

The Obama campaign responded that Romney made the “decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement.”   The remark may seem like a joke but it sure wasn't delivered that way.  It sounded like a "patriotic" assertion.  Here's a link to the video of the moment.

The Big Lie(s) 2012

Yes, it does seem that the circus is coming back to town.  The GOP convention set to begin on Monday, to be greeted by a tropical storm [update: likely hurricane] with an embarrassingly Biblical name (but it's no real threat, says David Letterman, because David Akin says that no legitimate hurricane ever does real damage in Florida.)  Akin is himself gathering steam, money and support, the most vocal of which so far comes from Mike Huckabee.  His statement ends: "He made his mistake, but was man enough to admit it and apologize. I'm waiting for the apology from whoever the genius was on the high pedestals of our party who thought it wise to not only shoot our wounded, but run over him with tanks and trucks and then feed his body to the liberal wolves....Now is the time to focus on electing a conservative Senate Majority. And if the NRSC and RNC and the money-rich PACS won't help Todd Akin get us to the majority, then we'll do it without them."

Them's fighting words from the Rabid Right leader who is scheduled to speak at the GOPer convention.

Meanwhile some of the media dunderheads express disbelief that President Obama could be at least a little ahead in the polls when Americans say the country is on the wrong track.  (Morning Joe throws up a graphic that says 36% believe the U.S. is on the right track, and then he refers to "under a third of people" believe this, which certainly challenges my arithmetic.)  How could Obama survive that, they wonder.  Well, consider that there is something called Congress, dominated by GOPers who've made a mockery of it, and it is polling around 12% or even 10% approval.  Could that possibly have something to do with the feeling that the country is on the wrong track?  Huh??

There's a certain tension release to the humor but it's black humor, maybe gallows humor, because the situation is pretty grim.  Women in particular are expressing real distress and anger over the Akin-Ryan tyranny that threatens them.  And it was only a short step from criminalizing abortion and even some birth control to a candidate for sheriff who claimed he would have authority to kill doctors and women violating such laws.

It's crazy and it's not funny.  Even this premature glee by Democrats and tv commentators on the Missouri race--which Frank Rich agrees with me is not necessarily a foregone conclusion--when what the RomneyRyan campaign is actually doing, and how effective it might be, is being drowned out.  One of which is characteristically taking an old tendency to a classic extreme with the Big Lie.

The concept of The Big Lie has quite a history. Hitler ascribed it to Jews, Goebbels pinned it on the English, but it's become famous as a technique that Hitler and Goebbels employed in Germany. The U.S. Office of Strategic Services officially thought so, describing Hitler's core rules that included "people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it."

The Romney campaign itself as well as the Rovian money machine are beginning to spend their hundreds of millions on several Big Lies. Two stand out for being (1) factually disproven by neutral observers (2) repeated anyway, in campaign commercials and stump speeches.

Lie #1 is that it is Obama and not Romney-Ryan that is cutting Medicare.  The Obama cuts to Medicare costs do not cut benefits, now or in the future.  The RR plan shortens the life of Medicare even in the short run, and threatens its existence in their ten year plan. The Obama cuts to waste in the program will extend its life by eight years.  But since most people understand that the Ryan budget turns Medicare into a voucher program that will mean seniors won't be able to afford medical care, the Rove doctrine of attack your opponent's strengths is combined with the Big Lie. 

Lie #2--and the one that seems to have the most money behind it at the moment--is that the Obama administration has cut work requirements from welfare.  This is a complete lie, as every neutral observer and even some GOPers say.  But repeating it over and over can make it true--especially if its intended audience wants to believe it.

And that's the other key element of the Big Lie: it confirms an existing prejudice or worldview based on biased beliefs.  It's why it worked when applied to the Jews.  And it's why it may be working with the white (male) voters being targeted, because it is a barely coded correspondence: welfare recipients=black people and Latinos, but mostly black people.

Even that is a Big Lie, because most welfare recipients in the U.S. are white.  But it is a stereotype that a certain strain within the white population wants to embrace.  What makes it most toxic and disgusting this time is the implication that the first African American President is doing this.

The idea that the 2008 election proved that the U.S. truly has become post-racial was always dubious, and the years since then have proven this wishful thinking utterly false. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about this in the Atlantic: "Barack Obama governs a nation enlightened enough to send an African American to the White House, but not enlightened enough to accept a black man as its president."

At least one observer believes this Big Lie may be working in the swing states, while everybody's attention is diverted elsewhere.  These Big Lies don't have to be motivating to everyone.  The Medicare lie is basically to muddy the waters and blunt the issue's effect on RomneyRyan.  So far the polls don't show this but they've just started to tell it.  The welfare lie is designed to increase RRs white male vote, to compensate for all the voters in other categories they are losing big time.

Nice white people don't want to hear that racism is a motivation for some voters, nor that nice white people like RomneyRyan might be using racism as they deny it, and accuse their accusers of it, and of fomenting hate.  But non-white people see it pretty clearly.  That could be why in the latest NBC poll, Romney Ryan is getting 0% of the African American vote.  That's way less than a third, ain't it, Joe?

This is where the Big Lie works best--to seemingly justify and further feed unacknowledged prejudices.  Those prejudices make it sound true even when everybody else agrees that it is not true.  We've seen this before.  The Big Lie works best when it exploits the unacknowledged and perhaps unconscious racism of nice people, of good Americans.

Speaking of Fascist Techniques...

Another technique that's a favorite of political entities transitioning into totalitarian rule, not to mention totalitarian rulers themselves, is intimidation.  Sometimes it's by thugs in uniforms, sometimes it's just by thugs, and sometimes it's by prim white people acting like thugs.

Especially when you're black or Latino, and they're in your voting place while you're voting, harrassing you and other voters as well as election officials.

As an amateur stormtrooper adjunct to official voter suppression, that's the intimidation technique practiced by a right wing group called True the Vote, that pioneered its intimidation efforts in Texas and notably in Wisconsin, where it happily bragged that it helped Scott Walker avoid being recalled in that election.  Now they're training a million fascist army to hover over the wrong color voters in every precinct they can manage to barge into.

That's in this eye-opening nine minutes by Rachel Maddow.  Otherwise it's a vastly undercovered situation--perfect for the intimidators.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Party's Over

The party that denies science and even near-unanimous scientific findings because scientists are politically motivated and don't have the right religious beliefs, but instead this party coalesces around a few paranoid beliefs that it continues to hold despite all evidence that they are not true.  The party that says that education and public information media are in the hands of the wrong people and therefore nothing they say can ever be trusted--only the party and its related institutions can be trusted. 

The party that says it is for the people, but works hard to deny people it doesn't like any vote or influence.  The party that says it is for restricted government but zealously supports and--when in power--enacts laws that extend government power into the private lives of citizens.  The party that uses extreme rhetoric and glorifies violence.  The party that mutters darkly about certain minorities and proposes laws to control, marginalize or just get rid of them.  The party that lies as a matter of course and policy, and its adherents believe the ends justify any means, because it alone follows divine will, it alone is patriotic, it alone is in the Right.  

While many in the country failed to take this party seriously, or to believe it meant what it said, and therefore didn't feel the need to oppose it, it gained in strength until it took complete power.

What party would this be?  And in what country?  What year?

We're witnessing an amazing moment in American politics.  The Rabid Right which has taken over the Republican Party with the cooperation of its power structure, now threatens to topple that structure as well.  The signal event of course is Todd Akin's refusal to kowtow to the GOPer power structure and drop out of the race for the U.S. Senate from Missouri.  Nobody outside Missouri even knew his name a few days ago, but his remarks on "legitimate rape" etc. created a media and political firestorm.  Every establishment GOPer imaginable condemned his remarks and called on him to drop out.  His establishment money has dried up, at least for now.  But the Rabid Religious Right leaders came to his rescue, and evidently he's raking in enough contributions to feel he can defy them.  Besides, he's reportedly the latest GOP politician to believe that God told him to run.

What is temporarily important here is that the GOPer establishment went on the record, and he is defying them. They've lost control of their own party.  If he stays in and especially if he wins that seat, there will be no stopping the Rabid Right.  Their influence on  Romney, which has already proven to be decisive, would itself grow to become uncontrollable. 

  Also important--and we'll see if it is temporary--is that the Akin affair has shone a searchlight on the GOP platform and its support for a personhood amendment--like the one that vp candidate Paul Ryan supported, cosponsored with Aikin--that would criminalize all abortions in all situations, as well as some common forms of birth control and even in vitro fertilization, which would make three of Romney's sons criminals.  Democrats are busy publicizing the real links between Paul Ryan, Akin and support for these laws.

Democrats, say some stories, can't believe their luck.  It brings back memories of what we used to call the "lunatic fringe," who were always good for a few laughs.  But there is no luck here, and no laughs.  With all the money the Romney campaign is amassing, they can say anything they want to and turn that money into the biggest media megaphone the world has ever seen.  They've already used it to try to turn the tables on Medicare, and by some accounts they've managed to convince people that Obama threatens Medicare but they don't.   Remember that their 2010 victories were largely fueled by just these same baldfaced lies and false claims.

Their totalitarian tendencies are clear in the states where they continue to do everything in their considerable power to deny people their right to vote.  Local election officials in both Ohio and Florida who have legally defied their dictates are being threatened by the GOPer governors with being fired.  In Pennsylvania, they are merely trying to manipulate their supreme court into deciding the fate of that voter ID law after the election.

The GOPers are now far, far to the right of what is generally believed to be the views of the American majority.  Certainly they threaten the rights and the interests of almost every conceivable category apart from fossil fuel billionaires and other wealthy predators--women, Latinos, African Americans, students, the middle class, the poor--and still the polls nationally and in key states are close. 

At this point however there are only two ways that President Obama and most Democrats lose in 2012: that just enough people believe the billion dollar lies, and that just enough people don't vote.  Those who are prevented from voting constitute a deep danger.  But those who simply choose not to vote are the worst.       

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"Don't confuse wealth with money."

Print Ritter
(Robert Duvall)
Broken Trail
painting: The Sower by Van Gogh