Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Hypocrisy Party and the Myth of Bipartisanship

Bill Nye, the Science Guy, today on the Rachel Maddow Show termed the Republican assault on science and the indisputable facts of climate change as “unpatriotic.” Those who are fans of Professor Nye's engaging way of teaching hard and complex science and making it fun for the uninitiated, would know that this is as harsh a criticism for the mild-mannered, apolitical scientist to make as can be.

These Republican morons, the party of anti-science, of senators James Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, and Jim Vitter, who yucked about Al Gore as if he had invented global warming -- a deliberate misnomer, since the term of choice among scientists is climate change -- not coincidentally are bankrolled and in the pockets of our nation's largest corporate polluters that fund fake “studies” to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence.

Professor Nye said that in his experience as an educator there is a generational factor to understanding the science of climate change. Older people, he said, have a hard time grasping the processes that would lead an ovepopulated planet with a very thin atmosphere to generate the greenhouse gases that trap higher temperatures on the planet's surface and more moisture (water) in the atmosphere. Young people, on the other hand, grasp the concept right away.

I know what he means. Back in December, when we had the first big snowstorm in the Chicagoland region, an older gentleman went off about global warming to me as we walked into the warmth of an office building and stamped the snow off our footwear. He prattled on about all this snowfall and what a crock this global warming was, that his brother in Norway had to dig himself out of a mountain of snow -- the sort of thing people all along the eastern seaboard are doing right now.

Obviously, I didn't agree but remained silent; it's pointless to argue facts against such attitudes. Facts like: NASA reports 2009 was the second hottest year on record and the past decade the warmest on record. According to the National Weather Service the snowfall in D.C. broke a 110-year record. That, by itself, as any scientist including Professor Nye will say, does not prove or disprove climate change, as the Republican climate deniers gleefully play to their base and the kind of attitude I encountered. Logically, though, it's not rocket science to conclude and understand that extreme weather events such as the record snowfall in Washington, D.C. in February occur due to more moisture in the atmosphere, moisture that is trapped by the greenhouse gas effect that returns to earth in much heavier precipitation (snow). Overall the world is getting warmer. That is a documented, scientific fact.

Meanwhile, multimillionaire liars Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck seize upon this narrative to prey on the ignorance of their followers convincing them to vote against their own interests. When a thoughtful Republican like Lindsay Graham, a conservative who understands the science and is trying to work across party lines on an energy cap-and-trade bill, is skewered by troglodytes to his right for working with Democrats, then the bipartisan jig is up.

This incarnation of the Republican Party, whose nativist hard-right element took root after the election of Ronald Reagan, is the most irreponsible, unpatriotic (as Professor Nye said), and criminal major political party since Germany's Nazi Party. This is not hyperbole; this is fact. There have been many fringe political parties and movements with extremist ideologies, but they have never had the power to put their extremism into effect; not since the German Nazi Party and this Republican Party.

It's unfortunate that in the currently charged political climate, the ‘F’ word is censored in mainstream liberal news sites, largely because it has been co-opted by extremist elements such as the Teabaggers, who couldn't tell a fascist from that face in the mirror. This is a conservative's description of the Tea Party Convention:.
“After I spent the weekend at the Tea Party National Convention in Nashville, Tenn., it has become clear to me that the movement is dominated by people whose vision of the government is conspiratorial and dangerously detached from reality. It's more John Birch than John Adams.

Like all populists, tea partiers are suspicious of power and influence, and anyone who wields them. Their villain list includes the big banks; bailed-out corporations; James Cameron, whose Avatar is seen as a veiled denunciation of the U.S. military; Republican Party institutional figures they feel ignored by, such as chairman Michael Steele; colleges and universities (the more prestigious, the more evil); The Washington Post; Anderson Cooper; and even FOX News pundits, such as Bill O'Reilly, who have heaped scorn on the tea-party movement's more militant oddballs.

[...] none of them seems to realize how off-putting the toxic fantasies being spewed from the podium were.

Perhaps the most distressing part of all is that few media observers bothered to catalog these bizarre, conspiracist outbursts, and instead fixated on Sarah Palin's Saturday night keynote address. It is as if, in the current overheated political atmosphere, we all simply have come to expect that radicalized conservatives will behave like unhinged paranoiacs when they collect in the same room.
The Republican Party is in a quandary. It cannot disavow its extremist right wing represented by the Teabaggers because of their enthusiasm and activism. The party is playing a cynical, despicable game of non-cooperation, obstructionism, and defiance of anything President Obama tries to do, short of deploying the U.S. military into the midst of another war, so that they can “break” him and destroy his presidency. Just as it was in the Nazi Party's interest to make Germany ungovernable, so it is that this Republican Party -- a once proud and vibrant party -- aims to prevent the President and the Democratic Party from governing, in the interests not only of short-term political gain but of taking power.

Lately, the President has complained bitterly (for him) about this; he seems genuinely puzzled. Unfortunately for the progressives, who have a more grounded, realistic, and cynical view of the Republican opposition, what seemed lofty rhetoric turns out to have been part of the President's core beliefs. This is what Mr. Obama said three years ago today, announcing his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois:
“It was here we learned to disagree without being disagreeable -- that it's possible to compromise so long as you know those principles that can never be compromised; and that so long as we're willing to listen to each other, we can assume the best in people instead of the worst.”
Well, Mr. President, as I'm sure you have discovered, Illinois state government is not Washington. For one thing, Illinois has that endangered species, the moderate Republican, in greater numbers than the national party. Perhaps it's because this is, after all, the Land of Lincoln, and Republicans here are somewhat chastened to behave responsibly by that historical fact. I don't know. I can certainly understand it when you say it's nice to get out of D.C. The reality is, Mr. President, that progressives have spent an entire year pleading with you to stop trying to convince ultra-conservatives like Olympia Snowe, Chuck Grassley, Mike Enzi, and Susan Collins to come around.

You gave it more than the old college try, wasting an entire year in a fruitless quest for bipartisanship. Democratic healthcare bills have passed the House and the Senate. Now it's your solemn responsibility to grab the Democrats by the scruff of the neck and drag them across the finish line. Get this thing done, once and for all with 50 + 1 votes and break the back of the Republican filibuster, for the good of the country, for the people, and for the perpetuation of a healthy two-party system.

Benito Mussolini said, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” In the wake of the SCOTUS decision opening the floodgates to a corporate takeover while the Republican right wing maneuvers, in obstruction of Democratic governance, to seize this merger, only you and the fractured Democratic Party can prevent this.

Politically it's high noon. It's time to get tough, Mr. President, unite the Democrats, and get it done. This outrage is what you should remind the American people of every single day:


JimboW8 said...

Wow! That video by Maddow is quite a strong indictment. Too bad none of the Democratic congresspersons will bring up such specific examples. Or the media!! This is exactly the type of thing that should be flooding every political conversation that comes up.

JimboW8 said...

I forgot to compliment you for another good post.

In regards to the older gentleman who share his doubt of Climate Change, I think maybe the way to respond to these people is to turn to them and very politely say something like, "Thank you for sharing your baseless and unscientific opinion with me, but please keep your ignorance to yourself," and then kindly smile and walk away.

BTW, I'm still torn/undecided about destroying the filibuster.

Carlos said...

Thanks Jimbo. On destroying the filibuster, I'm suggesting doing an end-run around it with the 50 + 1 plus 8 votes they have in their Senate majority to get legislation passed using reconciliation. The Republicans did it all the time with 51 or 52 votes; all of their unpaid-for tax cuts for the rich, war funding, and Medicare prescription drug program were passed without the "magical" 60 votes.

Of course, they could care less whether the Dems went along or not. That's exactly how President Obama and the Dems should proceed now. What are the Republicans going to do ... whine that the President isn't being "bipartisan" as he promised? Rachel was right on the mark: "Grow up, Democrats." and that goes for the President, too.

(There are some hopeful signs that the DNC is preparing to get the word out to voters about the Republicans' hypocrisy on the stimulus. We can only push them in that direction, and hope they'll listen.)