Setting the Record Straight

November 18, 2008

Reconsidering the GOP

GOP = SOP: The Same Old Party

     The week after the devastating rejection of the Republican Party at American polling places, the Republican Party at all levels has been undergoing a self-assessment, a “what went wrong,” if you will.
     The upshot of what has been said by the congressional GOP leadership and would-be leadership, from the Republican Governors Association and from other party members across the country is: same old party.
     Apparently, they just don’t get
     It seems all they could come up with is something like, “We forgot to follow Reaganism.” That sounds just about it, except when one asks what “Reaganism” is, the response is all over the board.
     One may recall that Reagan ran on and championed in the early years of his eight-year administration, a balanced budget. He championed reduced spending and he championed lower taxes for businesses, and all the other stuff the anti-government clique supposedly holds so dear, and about which they complain when the government, at any level, fails to deliver.
     That is not a very good explanation of what Reaganism is, but then neither are any of the other definitions posited by its adherents. It supposedly covers “family values,” whatever they are, a Pavlovian response to the flag, motherhood and apple pie on the good-feeling side and to socialism, communism and the anti-Christ, whatever that is, on the “let’s go get ‘em side.”
     And therein lies the problem of the newly introspective Republican Party—“We forgot who we are, but who are we?” Unfortunately for the GOP, it is still the party of the cold war that no longer is, “support our troops” that amounts to little more than pasting a yellow-ribbon decal on the SUV, and give corporations and the elite what they want because the largesse will trickle down to the masses, eventually.
     All summed up, Reaganism, as amorphous as it is, is little more than “us versus them,” the them meaning anybody who doesn’t look and act like us, the us being the white upper-class in gated communities with enough money to send their kids to schools where the riff-raff are not bothersome.
     For some strange reason, Reaganism attracted a lot of blue-collar America in 1980 and for many years later, which meant it also attracted the immigrant-American, both segments that believed somehow that trickle-down economics would benefit them. They were the “Reagan Democrats.”
     Twelve years of Reagan and the elder Bush, an eight-year interregnum of the Clinton presidency and then eight years of the foolish Bush appears to have convinced “Reagan Democrats” the term applied to them was an oxymoron.
     Natural Democrats, blue-collar Americans, immigrants, all the people who do the real work that makes the nation run on time, largely saw the light this year and came home to the party that actually represents them and does not just repeat nice-sounding phrases.
     The Republican Party needs to decide what it really stands for. Sarah Palin currently is the darling of the party’s right wing, but the continued adulation of her suggests the party may be self-destructive if it does not jettison her and the rest of the far right and begin representing a larger segment of the population, one that is a bit brigsr-screamjpeghter and more sophisticated.
     That would leave the party unburdened by the right-wing fanatics and focused on the commercial sector and those who have disposable income and feel the GOP is better at protecting it for them—from taxes, the criminal class, other riff-raff and whatever. But that may not leave the party with enough adherents to win elections.
     The irony of the Bush years is that the financial crisis in the United States has reduced the number of well-off voters while increasing the number of poor, a mix that does not bode well for the future of the GOP—er, SOP.



September 11, 2008

Palin’s Pipeline To, Not Here

Drill, Baby Drill; Then Export It

     As has become clear, the McCain/Palin campaign has decided to exceed the level of distortions and exaggerations that characterize many a political campaign and perpetrate outright lies its American Idolators are more than pleased to spread. We consider duplicity even worse.
     A natural gas pipeline, which would span Alaska and become the nation’s largest-ever infrastructure project, is being promoted as helping to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. At the same time the United States is about to export natural gas from Alaska, reducing U.S. supplies and driving up prices just as winter arrives.
     Sarah Palin speaks endlessly about how she stood up to big oil interests as Alaska’s governor. First, she stood up to them by negotiating more money for the state in a deal to build what she calls “a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.”
     She goes on, according to a
New York Times article, “That pipeline…will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.”
     At the same time, the Interior Department reveals a string of sex, lies and audio tapes involved in Alaska oil and gas deals with the oil industry and the federal employees handling the deals.
     The Times piece cited above is about the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline being only that, a proposal that has so many hoops to go through it might never be built.
     The Palin quotes are part of the political practice of distortion and exaggerations the John McCain campaign has decided to take to a higher level. The duplicity is the claim the pipeline would “help lead America to energy independence.”
     The gas pipeline is just one of the elements in the Republican “drill baby, drill” campaign to open up more public land to the oil industry that is not yet active on many other permits it already has to drill on public lands.
     The drilling campaign is being sold as a way to deal with the current energy crisis that is affecting not only the United States, but also the economy of the entire world.
     The Bush administration is pushing for more drilling, Repub- licans in Congress are pushing for more drilling, but the Democratic majority in the House balked, and rightfully so. The move would have absolutely no impact on today’s oil supply and wouldn’t for at least a score of years. It is nothing more than a ploy to open more land to drilling, in case the oil industry wants to take advantage of it some time in the future.
     Now comes the revelation by Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a senator much more “maverick” than McCain could hope to be, that the Energy Department recently approved plans for ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil to ship abroad 2.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas already being pumped out of Alaska. The amount is the equivalent of the average annual use of 1.4 million American families, Wyden says. He could be exaggerating when he says that, but he notes that Americans already are projected to pay an average of 22 percent more for natural gas this winter than the paid last year.
     The duplicity certainly is real.
     At a time we have our own domestic-energy shortage, the lame-duck Republican administration in one last gasp cleared a deal for the oil industry to export precious natural gas to Japan and other nations in the Pacific Rim.
     Do we need to drill for more oil or don’t we? Are we going to reduce our dependence on foreign energy or not? Do we have the interests of U.S. citizens at heart or do we not? Do John McCain and Sarah Palin tell us the truth, or do they not? But most importantly, are they the candidates more likely to change this practice or are they not?


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