Tuesday 6 April 2010

The Democrats passed a law -- kill them!

The Republican party is sinking to a new low that even I wouldn’t have expected. Their new argument is that the latest wave of Republican-inspired violence and threats is…all the Democrats’ fault.

This, of course, is not the first time the Republicans have tried to blame Democrats for the consequences of Republican disasters that the Democrats actually opposed – the entire GOP economic policy for the last 30 years has been to blame Democrats for the cataract of deficit spending that was launched by Reagan and the Bushes.

But this is really a new low.

The argument that the Republicans are making, is that the Democrats deserve to be attacked with physical violence, because the Democrats had the nerve to do what we elected them to do: legislate. Pass health reform. As far as the Republicans are concerned, the U.S. government belongs by rights to them, because the Democrats are a bunch of traitors who can’t be trusted, so if the Democrats manage to grab to the reins of power, it must have been illegitimate (“where’s his birth certificate??”), and if the Democrats actually try to use the reins of power and pass their evil socialist legislation, then any violent opposition is justified. And even when Democrats use the same legislative tools that Republicans use – “They’re using sleazy tactics to ram this through!! Kill ‘em all!!”

This isn’t just the teabaggers in the street, either: it’s the party leadership. Boehner offered a feeble condemnation of the violence, but even then he implied that it was the Democrats’ fault for daring to pass the health bill. And the other party leaders made it plain that they think it’s perfectly justified to physically threaten Democrats if they dare to exercise their constitutional responsibilities. Boehner himself said a Democratic colleague is a “dead man”. McCain says the “reload your guns” rhetoric is just fine, happens all the time. Steele wants to put Pelosi on the “firing line”; Palin wants to put Democrats in the cross-hairs and talks of firing salvos and “reload!”; Beck calls for “revolution”; the GOP website shows Pelosi perishing in flames. The National Republican Congressional Committee addressed the terrorist attack on the wife and kids of Perriellos’ brother by saying, effectively, that it’s all Perriello’s fault for voting for health care. Fox, essentially an organ of the Republican party, made the same argument: they asserted on their morning show that the Democrats should expect the violence and threats because they had the nerve to pass health reform.

The Democrats gave the Republicans a chance to walk this back a bit, but the GOP refused. Hoyer offered the Republicans a chance to make a joint public statement condemning the violence, but the Republicans blew him off; they don’t want to stop the violence, they want to exploit it and expand it.

Eric Cantor now claims that someone shot out his window because the Democrats, by complaining about the violence and threats, are really the ones who are at fault for fanning the flames of violence. As it turned out, the “attack” itself was exaggerated: a bullet had been fired up into the air from a long way away, and eventually came down near the building in which the office was located, meaning nobody was aiming at the office. And in any case, after the conservatives spent several months fanning the flames of anger, teabagger-style, it is absurd to blame it all on the Democrats now.

Sorry, buddy, but when we put up our hands and say “hey, teabaggers, would you kindly stop throwing bricks and making death threats?” that is not fanning the flames. That’s like blaming the Pearl Harbor attack on the people of Hawaii – “please, pretty please, would you Japanese stop dropping bombs on our islands?” Or the Poles in 1939, who obviously were the guilty provocateurs for complaining “Please, Herr Hitler, could you get your tanks out of our front yard?”

Equating a complaint about aggression, with aggression itself, is asinine. Seriously, now: throwing bricks at us, trying to blow up our children, and then blaming us when we complain about it? Go pound sand, Sparky. You’ve got more brass than John Phillip Sousa.

And if the Republicans can’t shut down Congress with violence, they will do it through obstruction – frivolous lawsuits (which they usually condemn), state-level nullification, blocking votes, blocking committee meetings, even blocking bilateral policy talks (all while condemning the Democrats for insufficient efforts at bipartisanship). Lindsey Graham has now joined McCain in refusing even to talk policy with Senate Democrats because they had the nerve to pass health reform. “If we can’t run the ship, nobody can! Screw the voters – what the hell do they know! Only we know best!”

Speaking of obstruction, the Republicans are now planning to block unemployment benefits AGAIN – “If you can’t find a job in a recession, too bad, screw you, it’s more important to throw sand in the engine in the Senate. We don’t care about your kids – let them eat cake!”

The Republicans have gone beyond anything like normal political opposition. They are pushing the meme that everything the Democrats are trying to do is not only bad policy, but illegitimate: Obama’s election to the presidency, Democratic control of Congress and their exercise of that control, the right of the majority to legislate, the functioning of our government, the functioning of democracy itself, even the right to protest when people are throwing bricks at you and threatening your family. It all must be destroyed, rather than let the Democrats do their jobs. “We lost the election, so let’s destroy democracy itself!”

This is nothing less than an attempt by one political faction to use violence to hijack the government. And there’s a name for that kind of behavior.


PS – the guy who helped inspire this recent wave of violence, militia-man Mike Vanderboegh, hates Obama, hates Democrats, hates big government? He lives off of your tax dollars. Social Security Disability benefits. Set your Irony Meter on “STUN”. This guy is now promising “a thousand little Waco’s”.

Another PS: one Republican, Bush speechwriter David Frum, recently pointed out the obvious, that the Republicans have suffered a serious defeat on health care. Within days, he was fired from his job at a conservative think tank, where he had worked for years – just for speaking the inconvenient truth. Then, after going public, Frum denied he’d been fired – they just weren’t going to pay him any money. Yo, buddy, when your boss says he’s not going to give you money to do your job anymore….

And another – Frumin!

How many times in one week are we going to look at the behavior of the Republicans and just say…”Wow”…?

The latest insanity involves the Senate parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, a mild-mannered lawyer who referees disputes on Senate rules.

Frumin was appointed to the parliamentarian’s job by arch-Republican Trent Lott. Lott fired the previous parliamentarian because that guy, irritatingly, interpreted the rules impartially, which inconvenienced the Republicans as they – what’s the word again? – rammed their bills through the Senate. Lott wanted a guy with a pro-Republican bias, and screw the rules! So this guy Frumin was appointed in the hope that he would do the GOP’s dirty work for them, by giving the Republicans all the close calls in procedural disputes.

So fast-forward to the health care debate. The Democrats were hoping that Frumin would simply rubber-stamp the health care bill and let it sail through the Senate without any changes – that way, the bill wouldn’t need to go back to the House for another vote.

Instead, Frumin did what the Republicans hoped he would: he stopped the bill, pointed out language in the bill that violated Senate rules in his opinion, and advised the Democrats that they would have to send the bill back to Pelosi to risk another House vote after all. Just as Lott would have hoped.

So you would assume the Republicans like this guy, right?


Because Frumin didn’t slow down the health bill enough, the hard-core conservatives are screaming for his blood. Word leaked out that the teabagger nuts are planning to go to his house to “protest” and to do God only knows what else – perhaps try to blow up the house like they tried to do with that Congressman’s brother. Senate officials and the police are now leaping into action to protect this innocent Republican-appointed bureaucrat from domestic terrorists. Because he isn’t goggle-eyed-crazy enough to suit the wingnuts, his life is in danger.

This is akin to Peyton Manning rounding up the Colts to kill the referee, just because they lost the Super Bowl. Because the referee was giving them all the close calls, but wasn’t willing to throw the game for them.

Oh, and by the way, Vice President Biden, in his capacity as presiding officer of the Senate, could have simply overruled Frumin’s objections to the health bill and passed it as is, eliminating the need to go back to the House. The Vice President does have that power. But Biden, like Frumin, played by the rules: unlike the Republicans, Biden respects the institutions. Can you imagine, if the positions were reversed? If Dick Cheney was in the presiding chair, do you think he would have hesitated for a nanosecond to overrule the parliamentarian and “ram” a Republican bill through the Senate?

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