Posts Tagged ‘Republican Party’
When the Bourbon monarchy was restored in 1815, the French diplomat Talleyrand is reported to have said of the Bourbons: “They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.” Ten years after the start of the Iraq War, the question is whether anyone – Americans, Iraqis, Iranians, other Arab states – has learned anything from this terrible experience.
By the standards of modern warfare, America’s losses were much lower than they were in other recent conflicts – more than 12 times as many American soldiers were killed in Vietnam. Yet the Iraq war has scarred America in many ways. It was, as many have pointed out, a war of “choice,” a formulation rarely, if ever, used to describe America’s previous wars…
For some, sectarianism in Iraq appeared like a summer storm, which quickly passed once the “surge” of US troops became American strategy in 2007. But even the colossal mistakes of “de-Baathification” (the dismissal of all Iraqi officials who had been members of Saddam’s Baath Party) and the decommissioning of the Iraqi army – measures so foolish that nobody now admits to ordering them – cannot fully explain Iraq’s continuing political crisis.
To believe that sectarian fighting started because of a foolish US decision, and ended because of a subsequent wise one, is to ignore the role of sectarianism in a country that straddles the Sunni and Shia worlds and the Turkic and Arab worlds. These divisions, obscured by Saddam’s totalitarianism, never went away.
Indeed, the Sunni-Shia divide exists in many parts of the Arab world. While Americans saw in Bahrain’s protests in 2011 a people’s democratic aspirations, no one in the region doubted that the real source of the troubles was a restive Shia majority (perhaps inspired by Iraq, or even, as Sunni Arabs claimed, Iran) trying to remove a Sunni monarchy…
In fact, the Middle East – buffeted by the Iraq War, the Arab Spring, and the sectarian showdown in Syria – is unsure where to go next: liberal democracy and the rule of law, or Islamist rule? Yet, for the Sunni world, Iraq is the mistake that not only must not be repeated, but also must be reversed. Thus, Sunni Arabs and Shia Persians alike view Iraq as still up for grabs, a question rather than a country, a “great game” of the kind with which the world is very familiar…
Ten years after Saddam’s removal, Iraq’s future remains where it always has been: in the hands of Iraqis, who will have to rise to the occasion. No one can create a stable political order for them; with the Americans gone, meddlesome Arab neighbors and anxious Iranians can only lose by dooming Iraq to remain a tinderbox.
As for Americans, we need to learn from what happened in Iraq, lest our hubris doom us to similar ventures. And, when it comes to the vision that sent us there, that means that we must also forget.
RTFA for the nuances excised by blog editors like me. It’s not really that I think every passing pair of eyes is owned by a short attention span. Many visitors here click through to the original to catch up on details and additional links. I just have a habit learned as a blog diarist of poking out a lead – maybe asking a question or two – and leaving folks to their own devices.
Christopher Hill‘s article in Project Syndicate is representative of the sort of primary source history I find interesting. Not least being the glaring contradictions between old-fashioned American politics, someone who chose to spend his professional life in public service – and populist dirtballs who call themselves Real Americans by virtue of their bigotry and greed, rationales that range from religious fundamentalism to xenophobia.
Keeping an eye on the dimbulbs
For three years and more, policy debate in Washington has been dominated by warnings about the dangers of budget deficits. A few lonely economists have tried from the beginning to point out that this fixation is all wrong, that deficit spending is actually appropriate in a depressed economy. But even though the deficit scolds have been wrong about everything so far — where are the soaring interest rates we were promised? — protests that we are having the wrong conversation have consistently fallen on deaf ears.
What’s really remarkable at this point, however, is the persistence of the deficit fixation in the face of rapidly changing facts. People still talk as if the deficit were exploding, as if the United States budget were on an unsustainable path; in fact, the deficit is falling more rapidly than it has for generations, it is already down to sustainable levels, and it is too small given the state of the economy.
…America’s budget deficit soared after the 2008 financial crisis and the recession that went with it, as revenue plunged and spending on unemployment benefits and other safety-net programs rose. And this rise in the deficit was a good thing! Federal spending helped sustain the economy at a time when the private sector was in panicked retreat…
But after peaking in 2009 at $1.4 trillion, the deficit began coming down. The Congressional Budget Office expects the deficit for fiscal 2013 (which began in October and is almost half over) to be $845 billion. That may still sound like a big number, but given the state of the economy it really isn’t.
Bear in mind that the budget doesn’t have to be balanced to put us on a fiscally sustainable path; all we need is a deficit small enough that debt grows more slowly than the economy…
Right now, a sustainable deficit would be around $460 billion. The actual deficit is bigger than that. But according to new estimates by the budget office, half of our current deficit reflects the effects of a still-depressed economy. The “cyclically adjusted” deficit — what the deficit would be if we were near full employment — is only about $423 billion, which puts it in the sustainable range; next year the budget office expects that number to fall to just $172 billion…
So we do not, repeat do not, face any kind of deficit crisis either now or for years to come…
Put it this way: Smart fiscal policy involves having the government spend when the private sector won’t, supporting the economy when it is weak and reducing debt only when it is strong. Yet the cyclically adjusted deficit as a share of G.D.P. is currently about what it was in 2006, at the height of the housing boom — and it is headed down.
The conservative hobgoblins inside the Beltway, the fiscal fearmongers in charge of the Republican Party still refuse to acknowledge John Maynard Keynes understanding of economics. What happens is every government that actually succeeds in bringing their nation out of recession utilizes Keynesian analysis and solutions. Sometimes they rename them to keep from offending fashionable conservatives.
Sometimes they’d rather keep a nation in the dumper and dying a slow death rather than aid workers and their families struggling through the economic doldrums. After all, they aren’t the folks who are hurting.
Sometimes – like today’s Republican Party – they’d rather keep saying NO while hoping that’s sufficient to put them back in charge of the economy they destroyed. That will require multiple episodes of ignorance and gullibility on the part of American voters.
Struggling to resuscitate the beleaguered GOP’s fortunes and finances in a solidly blue state, California Republicans received blunt advice this weekend from Republican strategist Karl Rove: “Get off your ass…”
…Rove said Republicans have grown too “comfortable talking to each other,” and they have failed to grow the party beyond its core of older white voters. Nearly 70 percent of the nation’s two fastest-growing demographics – Latinos and Asian Americans – supported Democrats in 2012.
What Rove wants – and the Tea Party bubbas reject – is coming up with more and better lies. Not only the usual agitprop of fairy dust economics; but, plain and simple denial of racism and bigotry should be sufficient – he thinks – to fool American voters.
There is soul-searching going on in every corner of the convention, which drew more than 1,000 party activists. The party confronts historically low voter registration in California – just 29 percent of state voters are registered Republicans, compared with nearly 44 percent who are Democrats. An additional 1 in 5 California voters now registers with no party preference – a growing number that threatens to turn the GOP into a minor party. Republicans hold no major statewide offices in California and are the minority party in both chambers of the state Legislature. From this position of weakness, the state GOP is also saddled with a debt that incoming chair Jim Brulte said could be as high as $800,000…
Jerrie Libby, a party delegate from Sutter County and a Tea Party organizer, watched Rove’s address wearing a red Tea Party T-shirt, which she called “a silent protest” against Rove’s efforts to back establishment candidates over grassroots favorites…
“I want to tell him, ‘Karl, we are all conservatives. Stop bashing us,’ ” said Libby, a retired teacher and almond farmer. “We are eating our own in this party…”
Red Edge, is a digital-advocacy group for conservative causes, and their days are typically spent designing software applications for groups like the Heritage Foundation, the Republican Governors Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Lately, however, Bret Jacobson and Ian Spencer have taken up evangelizing — and the sermon, delivered day after day to fellow conservatives in the form of a 61-point presentation, is a pitiless we-told-you-so elucidation of the ways in which Democrats have overwhelmed Republicans with their technological superiority…
It’s hard to get 70 percent of Americans to agree on much of anything these days. But, for the first time, one of those things is Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
According to a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, released on the law’s 40th anniversary Tuesday, fully seven in 10 Americans say they would oppose the overturning of the Supreme Court decision. And perhaps more remarkably, 57 percent say they “feel strongly” that it should not be overturned…
The poll also shows for the first time that a majority of Americans (54 percent) support abortion rights. And a new Pew Research Center poll largely confirms those findings, showing 63 percent of Americans oppose overturning Roe, while 29 percent would like to see it scrapped. Even Republicans are split down the middle, with 48 percent opposed to overturning Roe and 46 percent who support overturning it…
The trend line is clear: Americans are becoming more accepting of abortion rights…
As they are with issues like gay marriage and illegal immigration, though, Republicans are now caught between their base and the general public.
While much of the GOP base remains firmly anti-abortion rights and those most passionate conservatives would like to see Roe overturned, Republicans need to recognize more broadly that overturning Roe is no longer sound politics.
What’s more, the party has already begun to lose ground on issues concerning women’s rights. Over the last two years, Republicans have struggled with issues like contraception, rape and “transvaginal ultrasounds” — so much so that a pollster at last weekend’s Republican retreat went so far as to urge lawmakers to stop talking about rape altogether.
Abortion isn’t as fraught an issue as the ones listed above, but it’s still a wedge issue that is increasingly working against the GOP and risks turning off female voters, who stuck by President Obama more than a lot of other demographics in 2012.
Republicans have two years – or less – to turn away from becoming America’s Christian Confederate Party. They can continue on the course of strict reliance on Christian fundamentalist conservatives with all the baggage that brings: homophobia, racism, subjugating women, opposing public secular education, fear and hatred of science, the endless mobius loopiness of 14th Century ideology and superstition. If they fail – and I think they will – they are likely to take their place as a permanent minority party.
If and when that happens, the clot of leftover Birchers, Cold Warriors, Confederacy fans, chickenhawks and 19th Century capitalists like the Koch Brothers will shout “huzzah” – and keep it going as a mouthpiece for their dedication to the worst of dead and dying politics.
An American history freak show.
The Financial Times is one of those newspaper websites with a paywall. Not one of those I consider worth subscribing to. Since Altman’s Op-Ed piece is brief, I’ll include the whole unedited piece below:
I asked for coffee not hemlock!
The last-second deal to avoid America’s fiscal cliff has been criticised by budget experts, the business community and the press. In the face of deficits still exceeding a breathtaking $1tn annually, they had hoped for a “grand bargain” – namely, a long-term, multitrillion-dollar package of revenue increases and spending cuts that would truly fix the debt problem. That did not happen. Instead, the deal is seen as too small and unbalanced, as it raises only modest amounts of revenue and cuts no spending. Outside Washington, no one has a good word for it.
Critics are transfixed by the bitter negotiations, however, and are missing the big picture. It may be happening in stages, but the US is making real progress towards reducing deficits and stabilising its debt. Indeed, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington-based non-profit organisation, the federal debt to gross domestic product ratio – the critical measure of financial health – will be stable at about 73 per cent for the next decade. That is because annual deficits are now on track to be halved and, therefore, the debt level will not continue to grow faster than the economy. Yes, this ratio is still too high, but stabilising it will be a crucial achievement.
But with all the weeping over deficit and debt, how is this possible? The answer is that, in two months, a course for $3tn of deficit reduction over 10 years will be set. That is about three-quarters of the amount the much-praised bipartisan Simpson-Bowles presidential commission recommended in December 2010. And, using consensus assumptions on economic growth, it is enough to stabilise America’s debt ratio. Without it, the ratio would reach nearly 100 per cent, analogous to Italy’s. Yes, after 2022, it will worsen again – reflecting the ageing population and related health costs – and more fiscal tightening will be necessary. But 10 years is enough to find those additional solutions.
The budget battles rocking the capital have exposed a deepening fault line within an already fractured Republican Party: the divide between the GOP’s solid Southern base and the rest of the country.
That regional split became evident when members of the House of Representatives cast votes last week on a budget deal designed to avoid massive tax hikes and spending cuts: Almost 90% of Southern Republicans voted against the “fiscal-cliff” compromise. At the same time, a majority of Republican representatives from outside the South supported the deal, which was approved in large part because of overwhelming Democratic support.
The GOP’s geographic schisms burst anew after House Speaker John A. Boehner canceled an expected vote on a $60-billion disaster relief package for victims of Superstorm Sandy.
Rep. Peter T. King accused his party of “cavalier disregard” toward New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a potential 2016 GOP presidential contender, lashed out at what he called the “toxic internal politics” of his party’s House majority, noting that Republicans had speedily approved support for storm relief in “Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama…”
The image projected by the battles in the House — the only part of the federal government controlled by Republicans — could influence public attitudes toward the GOP and its candidates heading into the 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential contest.
In particular, the South’s preeminence could pose challenges to national GOP efforts to broaden the party’s appeal on social and cultural issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage…
…One of the first acts of the Republican leadership is to continue their $1.7 million defense of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, despite the defeat of one of its champions, former Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Sacramento.
DOMA is under Supreme Court review, and as we know, the Obama administration abandoned its DOMA defense nearly a year ago, after which it was taken up by House Republicans.
…Republicans buried the DOMA provision in their rules package, making no mention of it publicly. That left the field wide open to Democrats to hammer away.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the GOP “fiscal responsibility mantra does not extend to their efforts to stand firmly on the wrong side of the future. Republicans will take the extraordinary measure of including an authorization of their efforts to defend DOMA in the Rules of the House of Representatives and by doing so, continue to spend taxpayer funds, already adding up to $1.7 million, in their attempts to defend this shameful law in federal courts and the Supreme Court.”
Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, lambasted Republicans for not allowing an up-or-down majority vote on a stand-alone DOMA defense, instead of hiding it in the rules package.
“On this defining issue of our time, House Republicans are continuing to fight for discrimination and using the Rules package to make it seem as if all Members of the House feel that way”…
These creeps always say they campaigned on Jobs, Jobs, Jobs – turn their back on jobs to continue a pattern of bigotry and class loyalty, introducing bills to squash Obamacare, spending taxpayer dollars on DOMA, ignoring their reduction in ranks to continue the Kool Aid Party mantra.
Log Cabin Republicans have to be world leaders in masochism, continuing to support politicians who characterize them as a Satanic abomination. I guess that for a tiny corner of the Gay community, class still counts for more than liberty.
The Pope and the Republican Party says – this is the enemy!
Hispanic women in the United States, who have generally had the highest fertility rates in the country, are choosing to have fewer children. Both immigrant and native-born Latinas had steeper birthrate declines from 2007 to 2010 than other groups, including non-Hispanic whites, blacks and Asians, a drop some demographers and sociologists attribute to changes in the views of many Hispanic women about motherhood…
The decline in birthrates was steepest among Mexican-American women and women who immigrated from Mexico, at 25.7 percent. This has reversed a trend in which immigrant mothers accounted for a rising share of births in the United States, according to a recent report by the Pew Research Center. In 2010, birthrates among all Hispanics reached their lowest level in 20 years, the center found.
The sudden drop-off, which coincided with the onset of the recession, suggests that attitudes have changed since the days when older generations of Latinos prized large families and more closely followed Roman Catholic teachings, which forbid artificial contraception…
Interviews with young Latinas, as well as reproductive health experts, show that the reasons for deciding to have fewer children are many, involving greater access to information about contraceptives and women’s health, as well as higher education…
Prolonged recessions do produce dips in the birthrate, but a drop as large as Latinos have experienced is atypical, said William H. Frey, a sociologist and demographer at the Brookings Institution…
But to Mr. Frey, the decrease has signaled much about the aspirations of young Latinos to become full and permanent members of the upwardly mobile middle class, despite the challenges posed by the struggling economy.
According to research by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the overwhelming majority of Latinas have used contraception at some point in their lives, but they face economic barriers to consistent use. As a consequence, Latinas still experience unintended pregnancy at a rate higher than non-Hispanic whites, according to the institute.
And while the share of births to teenage mothers has dropped over the past two decades for all women, the highest share of births to teenage mothers is among native-born Hispanics.
“There are still a lot of barriers to information and access to contraception that exist,” said Jessica Gonzáles-Rojas, 36, the executive director of the institute…“We still need to do a lot of work.”
RTFA for details and descriptive anecdotes.
Education, understanding, access to contraception and freedom of choice are all opportunities which would be denied by the forces of backwardness – from the Pope to the Republican Party.
Constitutional standards which thrilled immigrants and citizens alike – freedom, opportunity, equal access to a better life – are now progressive concepts needing to be fought for again. As we had to defeat British imperial rule over American colonies, we now confront the same resistance from native reactionaries who would deny freedom, once more.