Point of View Columns

The Know Nothing Party

Ignorance does not necessarily indicate stupidity. There are inhabitants of the Amazon River basin who are not adept in the wonders of the internet and there are residents of the Vatican who are ignorant of the lyrics to the latest songs by Jay-Z. Not knowing something does not make those Vatican priests and cardinals stupid. And some things may not necessarily be worth knowing anyway (early Jay-Z lyrics for example).

However, to steadfastly refuse to learn about important matters is a bright red letter indication of stupidity. It is terrifying to learn that on matters of simple, basic science half of the major candidates for the G.O.Tea Party presidential nomination embrace ignorance and the other half (with the exception of Jon Huntsman) waffle on the subject so as not to offend the know-nothing right wing of the right wing.

Consider their positions on evolution, a basic scientific principle that has been considered settled for over a century:

Rodeo Rick Perry – “God is how we got here”.

Herman Cain – No clear position regarding evolution and creationism, but he is prompt in stating that he believes in God whenever an evangelical Christian is in the room.

Michele Bachmann – She is a staunch and devout believer in creationism and intelligent design and an adamant opponent of evolution. She believes that students should be presented with both “theories” and allowed to choose. I wonder if that same “choose from the menu” approach could be applied to spelling or history or mathematics.

Newt Gingrich – Newt believes that both evolution and intelligent design are true. Evolution should be taught as science in Newtworld, and intelligent design should be taught as philosophy.

Mitt Romney – Magic Mitt walks the tightrope and states that he believes that God used evolution to create the universe. We should remember that his faith also teaches that the Garden of Eden was located near Joplin, Missouri.

Rick Santorum – The deposed Pennsylvania senator totally opposes evolution. His position on gravity has not been disclosed.

Ron Paul – The father of Rand Paul doesn’t believe in evolution and doesn’t believe that candidates should be judged on matters of science. This may explain his belief in Voodoo economics.

As the 2012 presidential sweepstakes start to gain some form and perspective we are seeing a surge of ignorance that may be a greater threat than the most virulent aspects of the right wing of the right wing. Being in thrall to multinational corporate profit is bad enough. Labeling attempts at providing a decent life to American citizens as “entitlements” is awful enough. Racially tinged questioning of the citizenship of the President of the United States is abominable. But embracing ignorance as a governmental policy is potentially destructive.

We are the unwilling witnesses to a movement that wallows in stupidity and wears ignorance as a reverse image badge of achievement. Opinions are like noses, everyone has one. But facts are not personal. History, facts and science are not subject to majority rule.

At a time of unprecedented challenge and adversity the media is flooded with the pronouncements of men and women who would lead this country through sound bites and factoids and pure fallacy. This reverse elitism, glorifying knowing nothing, can only lead to a downward spiral in every aspect of this country’s culture, educational system and ability to be competitive in a global marketplace where competency is the lowest common denominator and excellence is the lowest rung on the ladder of achievement.

The world ranking of American students in key areas such as science, math and basic literacy continue to plummet in comparison to the rest of the industrialized world. One would think that it would be ill-timed to publicly contest such well-settled issues as evolution, the hideous immorality of American slavery and global warming.

Yet the G.O.Tea Party careens towards the abyss espousing such notions.
And lest we think that ignorance is confined to the arena of science and history, consider the recent debt ceiling debacle. Contributing to the political dog pile that posed as negotiation was the Tea Party position that failure to raise the debt ceiling would not result in the United States government defaulting on its debt obligations. It was this staggering level of stupidity at the highest levels of the American political system that resulted in the downgrading of the United States credit by Standard & Poor’s.

As the upcoming campaign bubbles and boils and simmers by turn, it is clearly too much to ask for dignity and decency. We should be able to ask for the absence of stupidity and ignorance. Sadly, where the G.O.Tea Party is concerned, that may be too much to ask.

Point of View Columns

Death by Tea Party

As this column is being written we seem to have avoided The Rapture and Armageddon is probably several months away. Nevertheless, during the past two business days the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped by over 1000 points and Standard & Poor’s has dropped the AAA rating of United States debt for the first time in history.

To paraphrase an old line, the G.O.Tea Party will try to pour water (or something like it) on our heads and tell us that it is raining. The canned caterwauling of the right wing of the right wing is already claiming that these financial calamities are totally the fault of Barack Obama because the events happened “on his watch”. Of course, as usual, the G.O.Tea Party is allergic to facts and deathly afraid of the truth.

The dangerously bad economic news of the moment is totally and absolutely due to the Congressional hi-jinks perpetrated by the G.O.Tea Party during the debt ceiling debacle. While Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell would mouth the right words about avoiding default, they did nothing to quiet the Kamikaze Korner of the right wing of the right wing that seemed to welcome the idea of default.

The rest of the planet (and Standard & Poor’s) saw leaders of the American government playing with matches in an ammunition dump. These same leaders, Boehner and McConnell included, showed absolutely no inclination to engage in rational dialogue with President Obama by refusing to consider any tax revenue increases even if it meant damning the country into economic hell. And by Friday, August 5th, the heat that you felt wasn’t the dog days of summer; it was the fiery breath of an economic hell storm that is the clear progeny of the right wing of the right wing.

In the past that I have written that the G.O.Tea Party is so offended by the idea of the President of the United States being Barack Hussein Obama that it would seek to destroy American rather than see him lead it. I thought I was engaging in rhetorical hyperbole of the type that the right wing of the right wing has mastered. But I was wrong.

When irrational actions take place it becomes necessary to determine the irrational basis for those acts. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and Michelle Bachmann have to be held accountable for their actions. By engaging in an adolescent game of “chicken” with the greatest economy in history the right wing of the right wing and its supporters and enablers have wreaked havoc on the people of this country and on the global economy.

They have to know what they are doing.

The G.O.Tea Party blaming Barack Obama for this country’s latest financial woes is like the arsonist blaming the fire department because the building that he set on fire burned down. That would be the same arsonist who also stole the fire hoses and let the air out of the tires of the fire trucks.

They have to know what they are doing.

The financial debacle is not just a matter for historical reporting or historical analysis. Real men and women are losing their jobs because of this plummeting spiral into which America’s economy has fallen. In the days and weeks to come homes will not be purchased, companies will not open or expand. In the weeks and months to come flickering hopes will be extinguished by the icy breath of a recession that will not go away because it is welcomed by the G.O.Tea Party.

They have to know what they are doing.

In effect the right wing of the right wing is engaging in the “honor killing” of the United States. Rather than see this country under the leadership of a black American named President Obama they would kill it – not through bombs or guns, but through slow, but thorough, economic strangulation.

As the life’s breath wheezes out of the American people their strategy is to “blame Obama” even as they tighten the noose with every nihilistic tactic, with every statement of nullification. The only thing that matters to them is to build a pyre high enough and flammable enough to consume the Obama Presidency – using the American economy as fuel and the American people as kindling.

They have to know what they are doing.

For too long the Democratic Party, progressives and those of us interested in our own survival and that of our children have allowed the right wing of the right wing to dominate the center stage of public discourse, in the process setting the agenda – no government revenue increases, no public spending to stimulate the economy, no increase in the size of government (even for food inspection, airline safety and education) – no, no, no.

The miasma of negativity has traversed every part of this country. The right wing of the right wing is, in this country, entitled to its point of view. It is not entitled to dominate.

Remember – They have to know what they are doing.

Point of View Columns

The Big Frame Up

As this column is being written Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services cut its outlook on the United States to negative, warning that the U.S. fiscal profile may become weaker than that of other major countries if the budget deficit cannot be “tamed”. This bit of news raises the specter of the credit rating of the United States being downgraded from Triple-A.

By the time you read this column the “budget hawks” will be circling and preparing to swoop down with the only “solution” to the budget deficit – too much spending on social services, infrastructure and investment in the future of this country. This “solution” would cripple this country and deface its future far more than any credit rating downgrade by a discredited credit agency but that is not how the discussion will be framed – it’s a frame up.

Keep in mind that Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services is the same S&P that routinely gave favorable ratings to the noxious and toxic mortgage related bonds peddled by Wall Street firms. Those would be the same Wall Street firms that successfully bet against the economy of this country and reaped billions when the economy crashed. And S&P was more than an enabler; it has been a willing co-conspirator in the fleecing of investors from around the world.

That S&P has any credibility in the current debate regarding the United States budget and its deficit borders on the absurd. The fact that S&P alumni are not standing in a lunch line in orange jumpsuits in a federal facility is a testament to how people can benefit from the Big Lie.

Meanwhile the budget hawks will attack with this latest report from S&P grasped firmly in their talons. Their “solution” will be that it is necessary to cut expenditures and the cut taxes. Whether it is Planned Parenthood or NPR or assistance for homeless veterans, the budget hawks will demand that a cleaver be wielded and that all expenditures be put “on the table”.

Increased taxes will not be “on the table” of the budget hawks. Increasing revenue to government is anathema as far as they are concerned and any solution that calls for increased taxes is considered unworthy of discussion and is not subject to negotiation.

It is at times like this that an historical perspective is useful. Using the so-called philosophy of the budget hawks and the G.O.Tea Party, the additional governmental expenditures that helped to build the transcontinental railroad and the Panama Canal would have been rejected, thereby retarding the progress of this country in countless ways.

This would be, of course, very similar to the current cutting of the federal budget to eliminate funding for high speed rail and the expansion and improvement of the interstate highway system.
If the pseudo-philosophy of the G.O.Tea Party was employed in the past, the large governmental expenditures that literally saved the lives of the grandparents of their members – expenditures for the WPA, Social Security, the CCC, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Hoover Dam never would have been made.

It is impossible to imagine Michelle Bachman supporting the governmental expenditures that funded the G.I. Bill and changed the lives of tens of millions of Americans. Clearly Rand Paul would not have supported the creation of tax revenues that resulted in the NASA space program that accelerated technological advancement in this country, creating the environment for the advancement of personal computers and the internet.

And now here comes the big frame up. S&P, the handmaiden and enabler of Wall Street makes a pronouncement that unless the budget is “tamed” the credit rating of the United States will be downgraded. Wall Street firms and major corporations that have never been enamored of taxes of any kind (e.g. General Electric paying NO taxes on billions of dollars of revenue and profit) are financial supporters of the G.O.Tea Party.

The G.O.Tea Party, waving a cash-stained and morally tattered banner of patriotism will parade on Capitol Hill claiming that “taming” the budget is a national priority and that it can only be “tamed” by cutting the budget. Once again, no new taxes can even be considered.

This bit of bamboozling is so transparent and so barren of subterfuge it is a wonder that anyone is taking it seriously. But logic has been cast aside and we are faced with a framed up debate on how to cut a budget that has increased in part because the population of this country is now one third of a billion people.

The budget has increased in part because services for the elderly, the disabled, the poor, the young and the homeless are now part of the national rationale for a civil and compassionate society. The deficit has increased in large part because of mindless wars, irrational tax cuts and an engineered collapse of the national economy that almost worked.

If the truth is supposed to set us free it would seem that lies are meant to entrap and enslave. The big frame up has to be seen for what it is. In this instance time is not our friend.