Friday, February 17, 2012


Well, Republicans finally put their foot into it now. Their “war on women” has gotten completely out of hand. Darrell Issa’s handling of the contraception issue was so ham-handed and stupid, so arrogant and medieval, so demeaning to women, so politically suicidal, it is going to haunt them all the way to the 2012 election. I believe this blunder was inevitable, given the control of the Republican Party in the hands of the least competent, most ideological, and most ignorant among them. This was a mistake of monumental proportions that will not be forgiven.

While this birth control issue is without doubt their worst mistake to date it is by no means their only one. Although they are trying desperately to change the basic idea of one person, one vote, it remains to be seen if this is going to fly, so to speak. Their political Supreme Court has done their part, deciding that corporations are persons and entitled to spend unlimited amounts of money (free speech) on the elections, and they are everywhere trying to deny people their right to vote by questionable means, this may not work out as well as they would like. It still remains the case that our political system operates on the principle of one person, one vote. And here, as in the case of contraception, Republican efforts to circumvent this basic principle may well fail, due, again, to their transparent and ham-handed means of going about it. Voters are angry, and if their anger turns them out in large enough numbers the Republican schemes may fail. While it is true that much of the anger is directed at Obama (he’s Black, you know), it is also true that the economy does in fact seem to be improving, and however bad Obama may be he will certainly provide a remarkable contrast to his apparently idiotic opponents. Barring some miraculous and unexpected development Obama should be easily re-elected. Notice I said “should” be, given the huge numbers of voters who will have no idea of what is involved, and will vote for whoever strikes their fancy on Election Day, anything might happen.

One of the most interesting aspects of this current election season will be a test of just how important money will prove to be. So far it seems to be of considerable importance, witness Romney’s backers outspending his opponents by huge margins in most of the races. It is said that he is outspending Santorum 29 to 1 in Michigan but Santorum is still leading in the polls (the spending may well prove to work before it is over). Similarly, both Gingrich and Paul are still in the race even though they cannot compete financially with Romney. Will it prove to be the case that he with the most money wins? We are about to find out.

Republicans, I think, will prove to be on the wrong side of history in general, especially if the 1% vs the 99% theme continues. There is no reasonable case to be made for further tax breaks for the wealthy when the discrepancy between the haves and have-nots is so great. For someone like Romney who makes $57,000 a day, to argue for further tax breaks is simply ludicrous. And Romney is by no means the most wealthy of those few individuals who are trying to buy the election. Given the reality of life for the middle class and the poor they will have trouble trying to do away with Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, minimum wages, and so on, the safety nets the majority now has to depend on for survival. Granted the electorate is not too well informed, what with Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, I suspect (and certainly hope) they are not as ignorant as Republican assume they are.

Even in the realm of foreign policy I think the Republican efforts to bring about a war with Iran will fail (at least I sincerely hope so). They are certainly continuing to promote their Iran hysteria, now even to the point of claiming Iran is planning an attack on the U.S., and idea so ridiculous as to be dismissed as some kind of mental disorder. Republicans, with their major stake in the military/industrial/political complex want a situation of permanent war, for how else can they keep transferring money so easily from taxpayers to wealthy corporations and billionaires. Even here, at long last, I detect a significant change. President Obama so far seems to have resisted the Israeli Siren song tempting him to fight their paranoid battles for them. I think our country is so sick of wars, and so broke from investing in them, we might actually have to decide to be sensible rather than constantly belligerent. There are hints of bringing troops back from some of our far-flung bases, reducing the Pentagon budget, getting out of Afghanistan, and so on, and even hints we may pay more attention to our needs here at home. It would be wonderful if we could actually believe “happy days are here again.”

For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use being anything else.

Sir Winston Churchill

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