Saturday, March 23, 2013

"Reaching Out"

As most of us know by now the Republicans are trying to “reach out” to minority groups that have been voting increasingly Democratic in the last few presidential elections. They refer to them as minorities, true enough of blacks, gays and Hispanics, but hardly of women. This reaching out consists of saying nice things about them and having party luminaries at their important events. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was a recent spokesman for this approach, saying that he was tired being a member of the “stupid party,” an unabashed gesture of contrition.

With one exception. While he was speaking, his party’s representatives in the state legislature were trying to replace the state income tax with a sales tax increase. It doesn’t require much knowledge to know that income taxes are paid by the rich and sales taxes by consumers.

If one makes the reasonable assumption that Jindal’s speech is a microcosm of his party’s handling of the problem, this approach boils down to “listen to what we say, ignore what we do.” There’s an obvious conflict in Republicans asking blacks for votes they are simultaneously trying to suppress. Put bluntly “we don’t want to let you vote. But if you do, be sure to vote for us.” If they want more Hispanic votes they’ll have to ignore the Tea Party and show an open mind on immigration. If they want support from gays they’ll first have to cease opposition to gay marriage. The votes of poor folks will require some serious penance.

Reaching out for the women’s vote is also quite a stretch. However one regards abortion, there is a substantial number of women, enough to swing elections, who strongly prefer a Roe v Wade world. A larger number often prefer contraception to pregnancy. I find it hard to consider something that can only be seen through a microscope as human life, eventually maybe, but not at the moment. Equal pay for equal work? There are two ways to do this, lower the salaries of the “overpaid,” presumably men, which isn’t about to happen, or raise the pay of women which would add to the expense of doing business, and we can’t have that now can we?

As I see it the Republican Party, both leadership and membership, doesn’t have arms long enough or anything resembling the will, to reach the people whom it has managed to increasingly offend in recent years. There is little if any chance of its winning the game of majority rule, sometimes known as democracy. Its only hope lies in changing the game.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


The percentage of homes with guns in this country is at a record low and sales have been brisk, particularly after recent mass shootings so it follows that more guns are now being owned by fewer people. Gun owners, even some of the more gung ho advocates, can’t be painted with one brush. But many of the extreme spokesmen who manage to get the press claim to be arming themselves to resist a federal government, which for openers intends to take away their guns.

Surely some of these people must know better and are saying it for the team. Even after Newtown, gun control Congressmen have been unable to reinstate the assault weapons ban that had been law for ten years before it expired in 2004. And yet some day they may be able to seize guns from citizens??

In my opinion what binds stereotypical gun worshipers is that they are at heart bullies. Many gun fanatics know that they’ll never need a gun that fires one hundred clips without reloading. It’s just nice to be able to show the folks who say you shouldn’t be able do something that you could if you wanted.  

I’ll go a step further with this bully business and say that based on recent performance the same can be said of Republicans. I cite the intentional overt snubbing of the President by prominent party Congressman. This may be the only thing that the Tea Party people and the establishment have in common because apart from that they live in different financial worlds. The party’s resistance to gun control has less to do with conviction than votes. I believe that this has until now been a successful way of their showing who really calls the shots, despite being a minority of both the electorate and the elected. 
As one who was sent to military school in March of seventh grade, I was prime material for bullies. As a prep school senior I was one in my own right, although of a lesser sort. Bullying is natural to much of our juvenile nature. What youngsters do is one thing. But what they do as supposedly mature arbiters of what determines a nation’s laws and its direction as a world power is another matter entirely.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Tale of Two Tattles

The identification of the person who recorded Romney’s 47% statement marks the second time in recent years that an obscure citizen with no direct political influence may have directly altered history. George W. Bush would probably never have become president if Gore had run a slightly better campaign. One more state, any state, would have done the job. But he was overly concerned with proving to voters that he would never do to Tipper what Bill had done to Hillary. This scenario couldn’t have happened without someone playing the role of Monica Lewinsky. That’s about the end of the similarity between her and Scott Prouty, the person who we’ve just learned made the Romney tape.

Ms. Lewinsky was an essential part of the impeachment of President Clinton, in which her testimony, very personal to both, was essential to the success of an unprecedented partisan impeachment investigation. If perjury over marital fidelity is cause for dismissal from office, pretty much the way this sort of thing often has to be done, to what standard should other presidents be held, such as lying us into a major war?

But I digress. Mr. Prouty is a registered Independent who says he tends to vote Democratic. I concede the possibility that he may be more partisan than that. But he did nothing with his recording device that wasn’t being done openly by numerous guests, except that he didn’t pay fifty grand for the blue plate special.

Of course these two morality plays would never have taken place without the leading characters, Clinton and Romney. Strictly speaking both stories are tragedies, although barely so in Romney’s case and only because he did show definite signs of being human. The degree of tragedy depends on how much the leading character loses. By that measure Clinton’s story wins the award hands down.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nothing But The Truth

Mitt Romney made an appearance last week on Fox, where else, and when asked about his 47% statement responded “I didn’t express myself as I wished I would have. You know, when you speak in private, you don’t spend as much time thinking about how something could be twisted and distorted and—and it could come out wrong and be used.” [against you]

I‘ll buy that except for the twisting and distorting part. Simply quoting him was sufficient. We can even hear his voice. But then he went on to say “What I said is not what I believe.” No Mitt no! You have that part in reverse. What one says to fellow travelers in presumed privacy is much closer to what one believes than the contents of a prepared speech.

This man perfectly fits the stereotype of today’s establishment Republicans. They talk differently to the public than they do to each other. I’ve heard stories from musicians who have worked Bohemian Grove, a Northern California retreat for upscale men, about what is said in unrecorded privacy. One quote, which I mentioned previously, is “you don’t (delete) your friends, you (delete) John Q. Public.” However misguided we lefties may be, we do talk to each other almost entirely in terms of what we feel is right or wrong, fair or unfair.

Americans are not quick studies. Look how long it took us to learn about smoking. Seeing friends we’ve known for years with cigarettes in their hands slowly dying did the trick. We’ve been much slower with guns. That may be because most of us don’t react as strongly to the deaths of people we’ve never known.

Will we ever learn what Romney has spelled out so for us so specifically? He was speaking unabashedly to people who paid fifty grand a head, within earshot of others whose presence he ignored and about whom he was bragging of not being “concerned.” Ah how fate plays tricks. Wouldn’t you know that there was at least one of those forty seven percenters on the premises about whom Mitt should have been concerned, very concerned!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Perpetuation of Racial Entitlement

It’s now widely known that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has referred to the 1965 Voting Rights Act as the “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” Most of the resulting indignation has come from the word “racial” and I’ll have something to say about that. I can’t figure how “perpetuation” fits the case. But I find the notion that the right to vote is an entitlement very interesting.

I don’t believe the signers of the Constitution felt this way when they assigned themselves that right. As founders of a new nation they were simply assuming what was theirs. Yes they were picky in dispensing it, limiting it to land owning white males. But eventually the nation, with rules set up by this document, extended it to the point that women, heavens even women, were granted the right. How and when in did this right become an entitlement?

A Supreme Court Justice should know the difference. It’s small comfort to think that Scalia may actually believe what he says. In either case he has no business on the Supreme Court. His comment has KKK written all over it. If I have my history right, by 1920 when women were given the right to vote, some black men had been voting for years. Does Scalia think of women’s suffrage as “gender entitlement?”

The reason for this controversy is a legal challenge to the Voting Rights Act. Republicans, who figure to gain mightily if the Court strikes down the law, have maintained a discreet silence. The decision belongs wholly to the Court, not public opinion. But we know who’ll be celebrating if the law is struck down.

Like Mitt Romney's 47%, Scalia's words of choice speak the proverbial thousand. I have this fantasy that has five justice in white robes, contrasting nicely with the black worn by the other four. The real fun comes when they learn that each of them only gets three fifths of a vote.