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    A last look back at the midterms reveals factors that carried the GOP to victory.  Republicans’ big win had little to do with GOP policy positions, unless you consider the party’s  plan to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct – then blame Democrats for not getting things done, to have been a policy position.  The party gambled that it could play the American people for suckers, and won.

    The genesis of the GOP’s un-American levels of obstructionism was revealed in Robert Draper’s 2012 book “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives."  Draper described how, on the day that Barack Obama began his first term, a dozen senior Republican members of the Congress met for dinner at a Washington restaurant where they hatched a plan to sabotage everything that Obama might attempt to accomplish, starting with his economic policy.  In attendance were the likes of Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisc.), Sen. Jim DeMint (So. Car.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.) who continues to de-rail jobs programs for veterans.

    Their cold-blooded disregard for the people paralleled their mad desire for power.  They orchestrated record numbers of filibusters.  They squelched the president’s jobs bill, thus depriving 3 million Americans of work at re-building our road and bridges.  They shut down the government.  They brought the nation to the brink of default and created a downgrade in the credit rating of the U.S.  They refused to take up immigration reform and sometimes voted down legislation they had originated, upon learning that the president approved of it.

    Beyond their skyrocketing levels of obstructionism, there were additional reasons that Republicans won big.  FoxNews and right-wing radio distinguished themselves as carriers of the paranoia virus that has infected their listeners with the notion that Obama is not one of us.  Their audiences have been lured into the seductive abyss of non-information.  The result is that their audiences view Obama as a socialist, Muslim Brotherhood-friendly, gun-grabbing, anti-Christian freedom-hater.  It is absurd, but reinforces the notion that we are what we learn.

    Bald-faced obstructionism and media irresponsibility were bad enough.  Then Republican candidates and PACs sunk neck deep into dishonesty.  Here in West Virginia, my favorite was Rep. Shelly Moore Capito’s claim that, “The president is out to destroy our jobs and our freedoms.”  Rep. wannabe Evan Jenkins lapsed into a brief amnesia regarding the poetic beauty of market forces with his advertisement that “(Rep. Nick Rahall, his opponent) helped Obama kill coal.”  

    The phony scandals (IRS, Benghazi, Acorn, death panels, the president’s birth certificate...), along with gerrymandering and voter suppression also led to the GOP’s victory sock hop.  Similarly, the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions (corporations are people and money is speech) permitted astonishing amounts of cash, much of it from unknown sources, into the campaigns, mostly to the advantage of Republicans.

    Dems hurt themselves by running from the President’s many accomplishments, a few of which I described in my previous column.  Watching Dems do that, I was reluctant to vote for them too.

    One more reason that Republicans won big is cultural change.  Year by year, greater numbers of Latinos and people of Asian descent live here.  Gays marry.  Pot is legal.  A black man is president and a woman may be next.  For some right-leaning voters, that a darkie is capable of leadership fits with nothing they have ever believed about the world.  Sadly, conservative office seekers, stuck without effective policy ideas, happily have exploited the fears of those who remain burdened with the handicap of wishing that it always would be 1959.  

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Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 02:16 PM PDT

Death at the Gun Range

by Joseph wyatt

           How does a 9-year-old little girl, whose Uzi just killed her instructor, deal with a bumper sticker that shouts, “Guns don’t kill people.  People kill people”?  After the tragedy, is there any hope that the NRA will demonstrate that inside the halls of its Washington headquarters exists the faint heartbeat of a conscience that once spoke strongly there, before the group had become a twisted shill for the makers of guns and ammunition?

            A revival of the NRA’s soul might begin with placement of a headline on its website: “Children and guns do not mix!”  But sadly, on the day of the needless death, the organization had tweeted, “7 ways children can have fun at the shooting range,” with a link to an article on its website.  Then, upon word of the instructor’s demise, the article quietly was deleted.  With that act of cowardice, the NRA went into hiding.  Like the priest and the Levite, the NRA saw a body and chose to tip-toe by on the other side.

            In Arizona, the instructor’s family grieves, their lives are changed forever.  Who can say what scars have been stamped into the psyche of the child?  What good possibly could have come from encouragement of one so young to shoot an Uzi?  Yet, in the roiling soup of gun madness in America, where “Burgers and Bullets” is thought of as a reasonable name for a business, a 9-year-old with an automatic weapon somehow seems reasonable.

             Those who have been lured into acceptance of cheezy bumper sticker slogans (“An armed society is a polite society.”) stumble for answers when confronted with the ugly reality --  in the U.S. there are ten thousand murders annually, while in most other developed countries, there are fewer than two hundred.

            The difference is not explained by reference to mental illness, violent media or the presence of gangs in the U.S.  Other nations are full of those evils.  Rather, the crucial difference is wholesale gun access, and the mentality that there is something good about a child with an Uzi.

            I have no quarrel with those who hunt.  But there is no rationale for military weapons to be in the hands of anyone other than the military.  An Uzi?  A clip with dozens of rounds?  “Target practice” is not an answer.  Nor is reference to one’s second amendment right.  Closer to the bulls-eye is that a gun can make a little person feel big.  Find another way to compensate for any insecurity about your masculinity.

            “So that my child will grow up to be a responsible gun owner,” is equally lame.  We create responsible drivers without allowing children under 15 to begin their training.  We make them wait until age 21 to become responsible drinkers.  We don’t let 9-year-olds make contracts, or have their own credit cards, or marry, or view pornography, or smoke.  Yet, some of us remain mesmerized by the gun industry and its front group the NRA.  
            Our America is possessed by gun sickness, a contagion that makes the ebola virus looks like a case of the sniffles.  In the 1870s a sign was posted at the edge of Dodge City, Kansas.  It read, “Carrying firearms strictly prohibited.”  And at the city limits of Wichita the sign read “Leave your revolver at police headquarters, and get a check.”  They knew.  An armed society was anything but a polite society.  And they didn’t even have Uzis.

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Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 06:43 PM PDT

GOP for Hillary Group Takes Form

by Joseph wyatt

     You heard it here first.  A number of Republicans openly and unapologetically have developed a comprehensive plan that will aid Hillary greatly in her ineluctable push to the White House.  With surprising ease, my research team has unearthed some of the more compelling details.  

            A prime plank in the platform of Republicans-for-Hillary is the group’s war on women.  The loose-knit group plans to push for more laws like the 170 anti-abortion measures that the states have passed in recent years.  They anticipate ongoing blockage of the Violence Against Women Act along with parallel attacks on Planned Parenthood, opposition to sex education in public schools, disavowal of equal pay for women and constant attempts to cut programs like WIC that provides food for poor women’s babies.  They will continue to genuflect to the mummified ramblings of Rush Limbaugh who, for three days running in 2012, termed a young woman a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she testified to the Congress that birth control ought to be included in insurance plans.

            Next, as if to prove themselves wholly irrational and not to be trusted with keys to the White House, elements among the GOP will continue to make florid claims that Obama is a dictator who should be impeached.  The effort began as Republicans in the House voted to sue the president, an action that some term Operation Impeachment Lite.  The president’s offense?  He agreed to their request for a delay of the employer insurance mandate and, having done what they asked, they sued him for having done it.

            Team GOP-for-Hillary will trumpet the perpetual plan of alleged boy genius Paul Ryan to strip seniors of Medicare.  Ryan’s plan would send old people, whose cognitive skills may be headed toward decline, to the warm embrace of the health insurance industry where discussions of coverage options, pre-existing conditions, premiums, deductibles and riders will take place.

            In the House, the Republicans for Hillary contingent will pile on more votes to repeal Obamacare, in hopes that upwards of 15 million Americans who now have insurance will be left without it, and thus may resume use of the ER as their family doctor.  Their brothers and sisters at the other end of the U.S. Capitol will filibuster most everything in the Senate, especially the president’s jobs plan which, had it passed, by now would have put millions to work rebuilding the nation’s crumbling highways, bridges and storm drains.

            They will deny climate science.  Relevant talking points will include both John Boehner’s, “I’m not a scientist” and Rep. Shelly Moore-Capito’s (R-WV, my representative) refusal to say anything at all on the subject.  

            They will gripe that Obama ought to do something about the recent flood of document-challenged immigrants coming into the U.S., while at the same time they will refuse to provide sufficient funds to deal with the problem.

            Repeatedly, Republicans-for Hillary will spit in the face of Ronald Reagan’s strong belief that the sale of all guns ought to include a background check and, thus, they will continue to make it easy for a member of an al-Qaida cell group to purchase a gun at a flea market.  

            For a certainty, Hillary’s GOP supporters will continue activities aimed to keep those who are not old white men (full disclosure, I am one) from voting, which is sure to backfire.  Last, the GOP’s Team Hillary will fight gay marriage and claim they do so to please Jesus, although Jesus never said that.

            Thus it is that Republicans push Hillary ever closer to the White House.  

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         For reasons not clear, the conservative paranoia of syndicated columnist and frequent FoxNews commentator Michelle Malkin continues to slither into the pages of a number of U.S. newspapers.  In her recent column in my daily paper, the right winger expresses bug-eyed shock upon her "discovery" that wealthy liberals donate to candidates of their choice (Charleston, WV, Gazette-Mail, July 26, 2014).

            Malkin writes as if she is the first to perceive the liberal “agenda.”  She cites the progressive wish list that includes “social justice, climate change, voting rights, gun control, efforts to ‘turn red states blue’” and more.  Who would have guessed it?  Malkin spouted her non-news with an air of investigative self-congratulation suggestive of the moment that Stanley stumbled upon Livingston.  Her implied self-image is that of one who only briefly is able to gaze upon the products of her own brilliance for fear that her head will melt like a that of an Indiana Jones movie Nazi.

            Her primary talent appears to be the application of scary adjectives to routine events.  To Ms. Malkin, Harry Reid is” unhinged,” wealthy liberal Philip G. LaMarche is a “militant” and people like them are “plotting behind closed doors.”  Such folks “coordinate and finance a web of at least 132 left-wing groups.”   Seemingly, Malkin was horrified to discover they are involved with the American Federation of Teachers (full disclosure, I am a member) and its nearly two million dues payers who, like the elitists they are, get up every day and work for salaries that average $50,000 a year.

            What passes for thinking is revealed in the title of her book, “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies.”  Her claims may be baseless, but they play to the crowd that is convinced that Obama is a socialistic, heathen, commie, soccer-watching, French wine drinking, Muslim pansy who won’t invade a country even when John McCain thinks it would be a peck of fun.

            Elsewhere, Malkin has concluded that unemployment benefits have “become an excuse for people to remain unemployed once they lose a job by discouraging job search activities…”  That, in Malkin’s world, explains why someone who was laid off after twenty years of employment in which he had worked his way up to $1,000 a week, would then find benefits of $250 a week to be the Elysian Fields.  Without Ms. Malkin’s wisdom, how would we have known that the absence of employment had nothing much to do with the absence of jobs?

            If one is yet unconvinced of her reality-challenged extremism, consider that Malkin also is author of “The Case for Internment,” a 2004 book in which she put her nimble mind to work to show us that neither racism nor unwarranted fear of Japanese Americans was involved when, during world War II, our government herded thousands of these innocent U.S. citizens into prison camps.  They weren’t murdered like Jews at Auschwitz, so where was the harm, asked Malkin who is (readers, please sit down) …of Asian descent.  

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Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 07:59 AM PDT

Progressive in Politics

by Joseph wyatt

                        Neo-Cons Torched the House, Now Blame the Fire Department

                                                        Joseph Wyatt

    Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, John McCain and others now blame the president for the meltdown in Iraq.  They blame their hangovers on the guy who is fixing them breakfast.  They torched the house, and now blame the fire department that battles the flames.

    “Tragically, all we have fought for in Iraq… (is on the verge) potentially, of vanishing,” Romney advised a Utah meeting of the GOP in June.

    All we fought for?  We were told that our brave troops fought to get the evildoers of 9/11, although neo-cons knew at the time that none were Iraqi.  Bush and Cheney said we fought to eliminate WMD, which they had reason to know did not exist, and so that we could deal with them over there instead of over here, although Iraq lacked the military capability to bring a fight to our shores.

    We fought because the war would take less than six months, although it lasted eight years.  And we fought because Iraqi oil would pay for the effort, although we now find ourselves on the hook for something north of $2 trillion for our trouble.

    And we fought to eliminate al-Qaida from Iraq, even though al-Qaida had no detectable presence there to begin with.  Along with all that, we were advised that we fought to Westernize Iraq, which neo-conservatives like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and others reassured us would be easy, even though we learned the hard way that a relatively open lifestyle can’t be forced on people who prefer hidebound theocracy. And, allegedly, we fought for validation of the domino theory of democracy, which turned out to be as fatuous in Iraq as was the domino theory of communism in Vietnam.

     As if to echo Romney, now Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz have slithered out of their roiling swamp of self-delusion.  They rush madly from the ineluctable judgment of history as they write in the Wall Street Journal that the president “…seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al-Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States…”

    In contrast to such self-serving, empty headed sops to the cognition impaired, we would be wise to review what we did not fight for in Iraq:

    We did not fight so that nearly 4,500 troops would die and more than 30,000 would be wounded in order that neo-conservative ideologues like them and the chest thumpers at FoxNews could deal better with their daddy issues.  And we did not fight so that Osama Bin Laden could run free for years until President Obama would flatten the ringleader of 9/11.

    And we did not fight as a means to galvanize the anti-America hatred of every potential terrorist this side of the Himalayas, although that is what happened.  Nor did we fight to turn world-wide support for the U. S. following 9/11 into the widespread contempt that ensued.

    We did not fight so that ISIS (nee, al-Qaida in Iraq) would emerge as a product of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy disaster, but there it is.

    And we did not fight so that the likes of Sen. John McCain now would say, “We had it won (in Iraq)…If we had put a stabilizing force in Iraq like we had in Japan and Korea…” all would be well in Iraq.

    Memo to John McCain: When George W. Bush was president, Iraq’s Prime Minister al-Maliki insisted that our troops be out by 2011.  President Bush and al-Maliki signed an agreement to that effect in 2008.  

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