What I learned this Week from our Country’s Republicans

I_have_flying_monkeys____by_Cor104There are several lessons I learned from the Right Wing this week.

First, it’s perfectly acceptable to kill young black men walking home from grocery store trips simply because you don’t want them in your neighborhood and they freak you out.

But we all know where the mind goes when the word “profiled” is used, especially in a case like this. Besides, from Zimmerman’s continuous calls to the Sanford Police Department involving African American men to his nonemergency call that tragic night in February 2012, race was omnipresent in this case.

So, no wonder it struck more than a few people as a little odd when Florida Assistant State Attorney John Guy told the jury during his rebuttal closing argument that the Zimmerman case was not about race. But what he did was brilliant. He used race to take race off the table and he did it by pulling a reverse Matthew McConaughey.

The 1996 movie “A Time to Kill” is set in Mississippi and stars McConaughey as country lawyer Jake Tyler Brigance. He takes the case of Carl Lee Hailey, a black man who shot and killed the two white men who raped and tortured his daughter. Hailey doesn’t stand a chance with the all-white jury, but Brigance makes a dramatic closing statement that left me in tears when I saw it in the theater 17 years ago this month.

Brigance asks the jury to close their eyes as he tells them a story. “I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves,” he says. “This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this girl. Suddenly a truck races up. Two men grab her.” And then Brigance describes every abominable thing the men did to her. Choking back tears of his own, Brigance concludes his closing with a powerful request of the jury.

I want you to picture…
…that little girl….
Now, imagine she’s white.

Guy asked the Zimmerman jury to do the same thing but with a twist. Rather than switch the race of the victim, he switched the race of the defendant.

“This case is not about race; this is about right and wrong,” he told the all-white jury of women. “What if it was Trayvon Martin who shot and killed George Zimmerman? What would your verdict be?,” Guy asked. “That’s how you know it’s not about race.”

Whether we want to admit it or not, we know the answer to Guy’s question. If the verdict would be guilty for Trayvon if he were the accused murderer then it must be the same for Zimmerman. Now, we wait to see if the jury agrees.

Second, women have less rights than the clumps of cells attached to their bodies because MotorCycle Safety, Masturbating Fetuses, and Men that want to believe all kinds of crazy things about biology based on religious tripe.  Regulation is not for industries that can kill hundreds of workers or guns that can kill thousands.  It’s for tampons and some one else’s uterus.

When North Dakota’s Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law in March, Bette Grande was thrilled. The Republican state legislator had spent months lining up support for a bill that makes it illegal for women to end a pregnancy because the fetus is shown to have Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities. Set to take effect in August, the law also bans abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks.

Anti-abortion activists praised Grande’s work. “It’s the right thing to do,” she says. “I don’t worry about the political fallout; I worry about the life of the unborn child.” Yet she concedes the campaign wasn’t quite homegrown. She didn’t come up with the legal justification for the legislation or all the arguments to persuade fellow lawmakers to sign on. A lot of that was provided to her by a group of activists 1,500 miles away in Washington. Americans United for Life gave Grande a cut-and-paste model bill it had drafted, along with statistics and talking points—“good, factual information regarding abnormalities and the discrimination that occurs inside the womb,” she says. “My colleagues didn’t need a whole lot of persuasion after that.”

Familiar in Washington for its 40-year effort to make abortions harder or impossible, Americans United for Life is now having more success outside the capital, offering itself as a backstage adviser to conservative politicians trying to limit state abortion rights. The group’s leaders say they hope Grande’s success will give encouragement to lawmakers in other places, including Texas and North Carolina, that are debating anti-abortion bills AUL is helping to promote. “Our organization has attempted to inject, if you will, a bit of competition between the states,” says Daniel McConchie, vice president for government affairs. The group ranks states by how much they’re doing to reduce abortions (Louisiana ranks first; Washington, 50th). “People come to us and say, ‘What else do we need to do to boost our ranking?’ ”

So far this year, 17 states have enacted a total of 45 new restrictions on abortion, many of them with AUL’s help. The group is explicit about its larger goal: to provoke a Supreme Court challenge to one or more of the state anti-abortion laws, giving the court’s conservative justices a chance to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. “In order for the court to actually reconsider Roe, it has to have an active case before it,” says McConchie. “So we work with legislators to pass laws that will essentially spark the right kind of court challenge and give them the opportunity to reconsider the question.”

To increase the number of laws—and therefore potential test cases—the group publishes a 700-page anti-abortion field guide called Defending Life, which contains 48 pre-written bills politicians like Grande can copy. Among the most popular is a bill to limit or outlaw abortions after 20 weeks. That’s one of the restrictions Texas Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis temporarily derailed on June 25 with her pink-sneakered filibuster.

Republicans are acutely aware of the political risk in pressing for new abortion laws. The GOP is already struggling to make up lost ground with women voters, who increasingly favor Democrats and are more likely to regard abortion as a top voting issue. In Defending Life, AUL suggests one way around this problem is to emphasize women’s health when talking about abortion laws. “Legislative and educational efforts that only emphasize the impact of abortion on the unborn are insufficient,” the book says.

Third, if you happen to believe he existed and had some kind of extra special relationship with a universal creator, Jesus does not want us to feed the poor or house the poor or take care of our children.  He wants us to subsidize the wealthy as they fit themselves into heaven via the eye of the camel.  This is from the excellent mind and keyboard of Charles Pierce.

Witness yesterday’s callous and shameful fandango regarding the Farm Bill. Last week, a traditional Farm Bill failed to pass the House because the flying-monkey caucus thought it was insufficiently harsh on people who use food stamps. So, yesterday, as Democrats went fairly far up the wall, the flying-monkey caucus went one better. They simply took out the food stamp provisions entirely and passed a Farm Bill containing all those sweet, gooey subsidies and gifts to big agribusiness. They were very, very proud of how clever they had been, and they exhibited their shiny red rumps to all the world.

By splitting farm policy from food stamps, the House effectively ended the decades-old political marriage between urban interests concerned about nutrition and rural areas who depend on farm subsidies. “We wanted separation, and we got it,” said Representative Marlin Stutzman, Republican of Indiana, one of the bill’s chief authors. “You’ve got to take these wins when you can get them.”

Do we need to mention that Mr. Stutzman is a member of the Class of ’10, when the country decided with malice aforethought to elect the worst Congress in the history of the Republic? Do we need to mention that this bill has no chance of passing the Senate, or of being signed by the president, or of ever becoming law in this country? Of course, we don’t. That isn’t what this brutal act of maladministration was about. That isn’t what this House is about any more. We’ve made jokes about how Eric Cantor has Boehner’s balls buried in a Mason jar in his backyard. As far as governing the country goes, the rest of the House is more along the lines of Origen of Alexandria who, when he found himself tempted by the sins of the flesh, seized a knife and, as Flann O’Brien’s vision of St, Augustine puts it, deprived himself in one swipe of his personality. Whenever the House majority feels itself tempted by the sin of actually governing, out comes the blade and all of them sing soprano harmonies.

They do this to demonstrate that government cannot work. They do this so that they can go home and talk at all the town halls and bean suppers to audiences choking on the venom that pours out of their radios and off their television screens about how government doesn’t work, and how they stood tall against it, and against Those People who don’t want to work for a living. (When Stutzman says he’s a “fourth-generation farmer” who doesn’t want the Farm Bill to be a “welfare bill,” the folks back in LaGrange County don’t need an Enigma machine to decode what he’s saying.) They do this out of the bent notion, central to their party’s presidential campaign last fall, that anyone on any kind of government assistance is less entitled to the benefits of the political commonwealth. And they all believe that; the only difference between Paul Ryan and Marlin Stutzman is that Ryan has been a nuisance for a longer period of time. That the country rose up and rejected that notion in a thundering manner is irrelevant. What does the country matter in the Third Congressional District of Indiana? There, they believe government cannot work, and they elect Marlin Stutzman to the Congress to demonstrate to the world that it cannot.

Our Congress is now a cut-rate circus with nothing but eunuchs as performers. Some of these people, like Stutzman and his colleagues in the flying-monkey caucus, become eunuchs by choice. Some of them, like John Boehner, are drafted into the position. Their job is to be forcibly impotent so that the government itself becomes forcibly impotent. They are proud of what they do. They consider it a higher calling to public service that they decline to serve the public. They sing a soprano dirge for democracy in Jesus’s name, amen.

Whether we want to admit it our not, we are experiencing an overthrow of democracy in this country.  A radical, religious-based, white minority that mostly dwells in the wonderland of the confederacy has completely taken over one of our major political parties.  It has strategically planned and plotted do this since nasty Pat Robertson sold evangelical votes to corporate, libertarian-leaning assholes in the 1980s.  They can’t pass things through the system and so they are now abusing the process of governance in every possible way they can.  They have spent decades insisting that courts be stacked with ideologues and religious nuts. They have made money the central priority in elections.  They are drowning our Republic in their gilded bathtubs.  This cannot stand.  This is the second civil war and again, we must take the side of Lincoln and the rights of people to overthrow the tyranny of an ignorant and ugly minority intent on enslaving us to plutocracy and bigotry.  No Republican official should be left standing when this is all over.  Vote them out of office with every pull of the lever regardless of what the other choice may be.

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17 Comments on “What I learned this Week from our Country’s Republicans”

  1. dakinikat says:

    http://www.ocpp.org/2013/03/26/fs2013032-no-correlation-economic-growth-taxes/

    Decades of evidence show that the tax rates of high-income households are unrelated to economic growth. Tax cuts for the rich fail to boost the economy. Higher taxes on the rich do not impede economic growth, investment or job creation. Tax rates do not determine where people choose to live.

    Instead, cutting taxes on the rich increases income inequality and reduces revenue needed to support education, health and human services and public safety.

  2. ecocatwoman says:

    A great big Hell Yeah to all you said in your post.

  3. janicen says:

    In my opinion, “A Time To Kill” was Grisham’s best book. I think I’m going to re-read it.

  4. dakinikat says:

    That’s rich. Cowardly @EWErickson is now tweeting Bible verses a few hours after tweeting pro-choice women pictures of coat hangers.

    Speaking of left over confederate deadenders

  5. dakinikat says:

    Homeless children: the hard times generation – 60 Minutes http://bit.ly/dUrqWv Poverty rate for kids will soon hit 25% (16 million kids)

  6. peej says:

    Excellent, excellent post, dakinikat. However, I’d challenge your notion that we are experiencing an overthrow of our democracy. I would conclude that the overthrow has already occurred. For on the other side of the aisle we have the “Left” consisting of DLC Democrats with no intention of abandoning plutocratic-oligarchical governance and a Progressive Caucus abandoning empirical practicality in the Snowden affair. Right wing extremists are engaging in all out political warfare for regressive ends – neo-feudal ends. The question is how to convince the Establishment Left to not only anticipate and confront but to create a cohesive counter-agenda that adequately responds to all the challenges noted here. I’ve been gobsmacked at how apparently unprepared the Democratic Establishment has been since the 2010 sweep. The Right has more boldly come out of its own closet so to speak – it’s not as if they’ve hidden their agenda like they used to. Anyway, the question is – How does the Left parry regressive-oigarchical plutocracy and at the same time cement a truly long term Progressive agenda? And maybe as important how do we strengthen our democracy in order to withstand democratic means to subvert it? For this is what we have here – and incidentally – using democratic means to subvert and demolish democracy was also how the Weimar Republic fell. The Roman Republic fell when it effectively ascribed “liberty” to the sphere of the wealthy elite – also what we see now.
    ~Peej

    • roofingbird says:

      We start by abandoning that stupid word “progessive” and use the word “Liberal” or “Socialist Democrat”. We failed when we started using words like “Neolib”. After we say the those words we start owning them.

      • peej says:

        Disagree. While I concur with you somewhat regarding language, I can’t concur with respect to liberal because of its deadly economic connotations. Progressive, on the other hand, both denotes the forward-thinking humanitarian vision of our enlightenment roots, the Progressive Era tradition those roots inspired, and subsequently the New Deal/Great Society; and connotes the spirit of positive empiricism – in other words inspiring practical change predicated on the needs of the day, the conditions that stand right before our eyes. All those words you mention should be owned – thoroughly and completely so as to be thoroughly and completely understood. Owning doesn’t need to entail embody or consume better maybe to regard these terms as ebb and flow or co-exist. I am fine with the term Socialist Democrat, I like what it connotes but I’m not sure I can identify one.

        On the other hand your reply to my honest query of how do we turn the ship is curious in that it isn’t a reply but a deflection. I mean no offense when I say it, I meant no offense to dakinikat when I challenged the sense it which she located the loss of our republic – past or present – I would argue past tense. Our democracy has been ruthlessly and viciously stolen and it must be reclaimed. So choose whichever term makes you feel best, Liberal or Social Democrat, but move beyond the label to the substance of what either of those should and must do. We don’t fail when we use words like NeoLiberal if the terminology is accurate – and NeoLiberal is an accurate term.

        Like it or not, political warfare is being waged. We can sit back and poo poo it or we can creatively parry. Parliamentary procedures and fruitless compromise aren’t cutting it. We need fast, comprehensive solutions. Americans are trapped, starving, struggling, dying. I should think the place to start wouldn’t be semantics. I can’t look at the photo of Trayvon Martin on the Justice Denied post without crying in nausea. WE MUST TURN THE SHIP AROUND. We do not plot a new socio-political course by bantering the abstract. We do it with concrete solutions. So I am calling for that cooperative brainstorm. With that, I ask again, where do we begin?

  7. RalphB says:

    Agree 100% Dak!

  8. Toby Wollin says:

    My list of states where I will not voluntarily go is increasing by leaps and bounds – too dangerous (any state with ‘stand your ground’ laws) and/or hostile to women.