Barack Obama's campaign slogan in 2008 was "Yes we can." Six years into the administration of the first black President, that slogan is being drowned out by a new one: "Because we can."
Let me explain by pointing to two ongoing incidents: The Bundy Ranch and Ukraine.
In both instances, well-armed thugs are taking over. Who could imagine that federal agents trying to enforce the law against a welfare cheat (that's what the cowboy, who is cheating federal taxpayers out of subsidized fees is) could be turned back by threat of being shot dead.
In the old days, anyone who defied law enforcement would be carted away.
How about the local residents who are living in fear and can't leave their own homes to use their own roads?
Same in the Ukraine - well armed soldiers in the employ of Russia are taking over government buildings and whole towns. While Putin may insist they are "protecting Russian-speaking people" who inhabit these districts, the only ones who are getting beaten up, harassed, even murdered are the pro-Ukraine Ukrainians (and no one has even mentioned the firebombing of a synagogue).
It is not much different here with various militia groups trying to mass an outright overthrow of the government - like "Truckers to Shut Down America" or the Alabama militia guy who called for attacks against Democratic offices after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Now that states like Georgia have passed "Guns everywhere" laws, you can imagine AK-47 toting goons taking over townhall meetings, keeping "guard" at voting places (to keep out those illegal aliens who are stealing votes, don't you know).
Political correctness? Respect? That's for sissies, says a candidate for Ohio governor, who boasts that the citizens won't get that from him.
Or Sarah Palin, who might have been a heartbeat away from the Presidency, in a speech to the National Rifle Association, said that "if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists." The audience roared with approval.
This is what we've come to in America: A former candidate for vice president can equate torture and Holy Baptism, and one of the nation's most powerful political lobbies erupts into cheers and applause.
Here's another form of thuggery - not with guns but cold cash: The Columbus Zoo wanted a $1.25 million property tax levy. The Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity, mounted a smear campaign based on the lie that property taxes would be more than doubled (in fact, property taxes would have risen less than 1%, or about $23). Why go after the Columbus Zoo? Because they can.
"There is no issue we won’t get involved in if you’re going to raise taxes," Ohio AFP state director Eli Miller, told the local radio station WOSU.
They did the same in a tiny town of Iron Ore Wisconsin, (Scott Walker's turf), population 6,000, where Koch Brothers swung the election in order to a Town Council favorable to their mining interests (that is, after swinging the election of Walker, who turned around and changed mining regulations in the state as a thank-you).
This was a lab experiment on how to manipulate elections on the local level, since the Koch money and Rove's American Crossroads were so badly defeated after spending hundreds of millions of dollars to sway the 2012 election.
They have realized that they can wield power at the state and local level - they don't need national office. Look at what has happened to women's reproductive rights, to widespread expasion of guns.
Now they see the potential in picking off individual Senate races - Kay Hagen in North Carolina, Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire (her GOP opponent, the carpetbagger Scott Brown, called in markers to have the Republicans defeat the Shaheen-Portman bill that would have saved Americans hundreds of millions in fuel bills, created 190,000 jobs in conservation and weatherizing, and cut carbon emissions that are contributing to global climate change) just to rob her of a legislative victory - the same thing that McConnell and Boehner are doing to Obama ("We were for it until we were against it because Obama is for it.").
It is widely believed that Democrats will lose control of the Senate in the midterms, while Republicans will take more of the House.
This meme baffles me.
Obama's numbers may be in the mid-40s, but Congress would kill to have such high approval ratings - they can barely get out of the teens.
No one in American history has received as many votes as Obama - 69,500,000 votes in 2008. You know who was second place? Obama in 2012, with 65,915,796 votes. (Ronald Reagan in his blowout election in 1984 got 54,455,472 votes; do you know the President who received the greatest share of votes? Not Reagan. Not FDR. It was Lyndon Johnson in 1964 with 61.05% of the popular vote.)
And yet, all those who voted for Obama's agenda, are being dismissed. Literally trampled upon. Obama's ratings were highest at his second inauguration, in which he laid out his agenda - jobs creation, infrastructure bank, clean energy, education.
Whenever I hear Boehner or Cantor or McConnell declare "The American People...." I get physically ill. It's the same as when you hear people who say "God spoke to me."
You don't speak for me. You don't speak for the majority of the American people.
If you ask people if they want the minimum wage raised, immigration reform, infrastructure investment, clean energy, tax reform, gun safety, and yes, health reform - all these things are favored by vast majorities of the American people but are being obstructed by Republicans.
How can this be, if Republicans are worried about being voted out of office?
Because they aren't. And because they can.
They have realized that they can block, impede, obstruct the will of the majority of voters who voted for the Obama agenda without actually holding the Presidency.
Gerrymandering (along with voter suppression tactics designed to keep Democrats away from the polls) means they control the House, even though Republican Congressmembers garnered more than 1 million votes fewer than Democratic candidates.
And they don't need the "little people" to donate to their campaign either. They can summon a handful of billionaires who can fund a campaign smearing their opponent (Have you heard? Hillary Clinton suffered brain damage.)
Just over 57% of the $230 million raised by Super PACs from individuals in the 2012 Presidential campaign came from just 47 people giving at least $1 million each. Just over 1,000 donors giving $10,000 or more were responsible for 94% of this fundraising.
Pretty sweet deal. Politicians don't actually have to pander to the masses, they only need to kowtow to a few billionaires.
You hear commentators say that unless the Republicans get "smart" about immigration, they will never again win national office.
You know what? They don't care.
Even though Republicans have not had a majority of the Senate they have managed to block every single vote through abuse of the filibuster rules. In their mind, the Senate is about minority rule. Minority rule is majority rule.
You hear it among the Right Wing Nuts wielding guns on street corners, taking over Bunkerville. Truckers who say they will shut down Washington DC and arrest Obama, along with Pelosi and Reid- all in the name of Freedom!
The Republicans have found an even better tool to obstruct, castrate, nullify the President, even though he was elected by a substantial majority - impeachment.
That's how they blocked Clinton - that and an unending slew of trumped up scandals (remember Whitewater? there was nothing to it, but Republicans spend millions and millions of dollars, and didn't stop until they got to Lewinsky, which they used to impeach Clinton - not for high crimes and misdemeanors, as the Constitution specifies, but for an adulterous affair.
So they seize on Benghazi because they think that if they can find the email that says the White House told them to say it was the anti-Muslim video that prompted the attack on the US consulate, that is an impeachable offense.
You mean it is as serious as a President who lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction in order to unleash shock and awe and invade an unarmed country, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians?
You mean that failing to protect a consulate against an attack is more culpable than the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed hundreds? (Reagan's response: invade Grenada).
You mean that the death of four Americans in Benghazi, as tragic as that is, is more culpable than four separate attacks on September 11, 2001 that came with 54 FAA warnings, an August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief ("Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US"), and actual messages intercepted by NSA on Sept. 10, 2001, that say, "The match is about to begin" and "Tomorrow is zero hour." (Not translated until Sept. 12 because Bush had fired 8 Arabic translators for being gay).
What happened to Bush after 9/11? Did he get impeached for gross incompetence and possibly complicity in order to have the "Pearl Harbor" that Cheney's Project for the New American Century strategized would give him unchallenged authority (an Imperial President, a Unitary Executive, as the Federalist Society's Alito and Roberts had sought) for the NeoCon view of global domination?
Bush's "approval" ratings went up to the 80s - the highest of his time in the Oval office. He was able to push through his massive increase in military spending and his domestic agenda that included tax cuts for the "have-mores".
Can you imagine what would have happened if Obama had been president, and sat reading "My Pet Goat"?
Indeed, all this deification of all things 9/11 is to shift the focus from the fact this was the most profound failure on the part of every level of government. To save their asses and write their own legacy, they make this event sound like Jesus crucified on the cross and the victims martyrs for the cause of Freedom & Liberty.
Republicans have decided they don't actually need the support of a majority of the American people. They don't need "facts" or "truth". They can ignore climate change (ironically, they will now say that the impacts are already baked so we needn't bother do anything now. Armageddon? Let's party now!). They don't need immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, investment in infrastructure or education or medical research. They don't need to expand Medicaid and they can withhold food stamps.
They can rule without the will of the people or winning the Presidency.
Because they can.
Or put another way: Might makes right.
Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
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