GOP

Poll Shows GOP Is Rapidly Losing Favor With Voters – Even Republican Voters

dead-gop-elephant

POLITICUS USA

There is something curious going on with the American people as voters, and it is difficult to determine exactly what the problem is. Oh it is true that voters, particularly Republican voters, are inherently ignorant, even stupid, but it does not entirely explain why they consistently vote against their own best self-interests. It is also true that even when conservatives are dissatisfied with their Republican representatives and candidates performance, or lack thereof, they still show up at the ballot box and re-elect them reliably. And so it is that despite a new Pew Research poll showing that Republicans have lost significant support among the population, particularly with Republican voters, it is not necessarily a good sign for Democrats and certainly not a reason to celebrate.

In what should be an obvious poll result, the Republican Party’s image has grown more negative overall during the first half of this year. Currently, only 32 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the Republican Party, while 60 percent have an unfavorable view; that is what happens after six months of raving lunacy and anti-everything extremism borne of truly obscene presidential candidate’s positions. The favorable views of the GOP have tumbled eighteen percentage points since January.

Democrats continue holding steady, although not stellar, ratings with mixed results of 48 percent favorability as opposed to 47 percent unfavorable, but that is nothing new. Although, that slight Democratic favorability advantage narrowed slightly after Republican extremists prevailed in the 2014 midterms and took control of the entire Congress, the recent poll results reveal the gap in favor of Democrats is wider now than it has been in over two years.

It should surprise no-one, not even Republicans, that Democrats still hold wide advantages over the GOP on empathy and honesty, and are viewed as “more concerned with the needs of people like me” by 53 percent to 31 percent; they also lead Republicans “on governing in an honest and ethical way (45 percent to 29 percent). However, none of this is new and despite the extremism, complete lack of ethics, dishonesty, and blatant disregard for the American people, Republicans remain a force that liberals, progressives, and rank-and-file Democrats continue to underestimate like they have since 2010. Perhaps it is because they are so desperate for good news that just learning that Democratic candidates are drawing large crowds, or favored by voters, convinces them that Republicans are finished as a political force. Nothing is farther from the truth despite the fact that most Americans believe that Democrats do serve the interests of the people; all the people.

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GOP’s Favorite Socialist Program Lost $8.5 Trillion And Will Bankrupt America

The-Pentagon-Doesnt-Know-What-it-Spent-8.5-Trillion-Dollars-on

$8.5 Trillion dollar LOSS.  Let that sink in for a while…

POLITICUS USA

For several years, if not decades, Republicans have, and still do, claim that any American who is not anti-government, anti-taxation, anti-women’s rights, anti-immigration, anti-theocracy, and anti-democracy is a raving socialist. Yesterday Ted Cruz accused Hillary Clinton of being a “wild-eyed socialist” who will do serious damage to America, and it is so typical for a Republican to use that term because they know most Americans are ignorant of what socialism entails. Socialism is simply “an economic and political system where all major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual companies or people, or a societal system in which there is no private property.” Obviously, neither Hillary Clinton, nor any Democrat supports or advocates for socialism, including Senator Bernie Sanders who claims to be a democratic socialist. In fact, democratic socialism isa political ideology involving a combination of political democracy with government ownership and control of all major industries.” Bernie Sanders is not any kind of socialist; not even a democratic socialist.

What most Americans are woefully ignorant of is that there is a socialistic program that Republicans not only advocate for, they are never at a loss for investing more taxpayer dollars into it with no return except for a growing deficit; one that will eventually break America like the former Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War. To make matters that much worse, and it is that much worse, the GOP’s favorite socialist program has completely lost track of where $8.5 trillion in taxpayer and borrowed money because the Department of Defense has no accountability to the American people or apparently the government that owns and operates it. The worst part is that despite this country’s only wasteful, unaccountable, and out-of-control socialistic program, Republicans want to sink more of Americans’ tax dollars into the defense budget.

It was barely reported again last January that after Congress had just allotted well over half the entire annual federal budget for the military, that the Department of Defense could not account for over $8.5 trillion between 2000 and 2012. In 2005, for example, the Department of Defense had contracts worth a bit over $3 trillion with various businesses, but the United States Treasury Department could not find any record of how those trillions of dollars, both taxpayer money and trillions borrowed, was actually spent. Apparently, it is a common Pentagon practice to “regularly cheat on its accounting books” by submitting a falsely balanced budget to the Treasury; in 2012 the Pentagon falsely reported “$9.22 billion to reconcile its spending with its budget.” And Republicans want to give the Defense Department even more money than over half the nation’s spending.

It is not that the Defense Department (DoD) is not required to do a full accounting of where every single penny of borrowed and taxpayer money goes. In 1990, Congress passed a then-new federal law requiring all government agencies to be audited, but the Pentagon, the only American socialist entity, is the only government agency that has failedto comply with the law because it is the military, national defense, support the troops, patriotism and war on terror. In fact, for the very same reason the DoD is allowed to lose $8.5 trillion without a national outcry is why Republicans constantly demand more money for the military.

What should be astonishing is that despite “reckless accounting” and “consistently fraudulent reporting,” there has been no investigations into where trillions-of-dollars of both borrowed and taxpayer dollars have disappeared, or who is responsible for increasing the deficit. There was a pathetic attempt to curb the Defense Department’s waste and bring some transparency to the nation’s only socialist program by mandating a reduction in weapons programs if the DoD fails to meet its budget, but socialist or not it is the military and Republicans want more funding despite the waste and fraud. The Government Accountability Office as well as the Department of Defense’s own inspector general admit that the lack of accountability makes it incredibly easy to conceal “outright fraud and inappropriate purchases” that also “affects military personnel’s salaries.”

There has been an effort to revamp the Department of Defense’s accounting system within two years, by 2017, but because it is a government owned and operated socialist “industry” there are absolutely no legal consequences or mechanisms in place to hold anyone responsible. Some leading officials claim that the only way to force the Pentagon to “straighten out” and “be accountable” like every other agency is if there was a means to bring “outside pressure to bear” from Washington, but with Republicans in control of Congress and the nation’s purse-strings, and crusading to increase defense spending, that is never going to happen; their campaign donors in the oil industry and military industrial complex will not allow it.

Republicans demand accountability from every government agency to devise new and devious means to cut spending under the guise of deficit reduction. However, the one and only socialist entity in the nation is not only unaccountable to the people, including losing $8.5 trillion over ten years, it is piling on debt like there is no tomorrow. It is important to remember, that Bush-Republicans started two completely unnecessary wars of aggression against Muslims for regime change without regard for funding or the deficit.

It is an abomination that while Republicans refuse to spend one penny for infrastructure, domestic programs, education, or renewable energy due to “America being broke,” they easily hand over half of the nation’s spending to a socialist program without any accountability. And it is pathetic that there is no major media outcry that literally trillions of dollars have gone missing while the Defense Department refuses to say where that borrowed and taxpayer money went. Something that every American should consider is that the $8.5 trillion the Pentagon “lost” represents over a third of the entire national debt, but that is just the money they will not, or cannot, account for. Trillions more, like “known waste such as $1.5 trillion for the F35,” of the deficit has been reported accurately and went to Republican military industrial complex donors and the national deficit.

Over the next sixteen months of an already incredibly long presidential campaign, every Republican seeking the nomination and candidate for Congress will scream that defense spending is woefully inadequate and call for a monumental increase; all while decrying that Democrats are socialists and call for domestic spending cuts. Democrats, no matter the office they seek, have to start explaining to voters exactly what socialism means, and point out that the one and only program that Republicans want more borrowed and taxpayer money for is the socialist Department of Defense despite it cannot account for $8.5 trillion that is gone forever but still has to be repaid.

Rmuse

WH warns states: Defunding Planned Parenthood might break law

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THE HILL

The Obama administration has warned Louisiana and Alabama that they could be violating federal law by cutting off Planned Parenthood from their states’ Medicaid programs.
The Republican governors in both states this month terminated their state Medicaid contracts with the organization in the wake of controversial undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the price of fetal tissue for medical research.
But the White House points out that federal law says Medicaid beneficiaries may obtain services from any qualified provider and that cutting Planned Parenthood out of the program restricts that choice.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) has contacted Louisiana and Alabama about the issue.
“CMS has notified states who have taken action to terminate their Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood that they may be in conflict with federal law,” Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Ben Wakana said in a statement.
“Longstanding Medicaid laws prohibit states from restricting individuals who have coverage through Medicaid from receiving care from a qualified provider,” he said. “By restricting which provider a woman could choose to receive care from, women could lose access to critical preventive care, such as cancer screenings.”
The warning was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Federal courts have in the past blocked state attempts by states including Indiana and Arizona to cut Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid, citing the law that gives consumers a choice in providers.
Mike Reed, a spokesman for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), indicated the state and its Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) are standing by its decision.
He cited a provision in the state Medicaid contract allowing either party to cancel it at will, with 30 days notice.
“CMS reached out to DHH after we canceled the Medicaid provider contract with Planned Parenthood,” Reed said. “DHH explained to CMS why the state chose to exercise our right to cancel the contract without cause.”
Jindal is one of 17 big-name Republicans running for president in 2016.
Planned Parenthood praised the Obama administration’s move.
“It’s good to hear that HHS has clarified what we already know — blocking women’s access to care at Planned Parenthood is against the law,” Dawn Laguens, the group’s executive vice president, said in a statement.
She added that the group will “do everything in our power to protect women’s access to health care in all fifty states.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest has defended Planned Parenthood and said it follows the “highest ethical standards.” The White House has also threatened to veto any government spending bill that defunds the organization, which some Republicans are calling for.

GOP’s War on Women alive and well; no exceptions!

Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at a Harley Davidson motorcycle dealership in Las Vegas, Nevada July 14, 2015. Walker jumped into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Monday, needing to p

attribution: REUTERS

No exceptions… ever!

DAILY KOS

Nothing was more clear during Thursday night’s GOP debate than the fact that the Republican War on Women is alive and well, even and especially with supposed frontrunners Jeb! Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio.

Jeb! bragged about defunding Planned Parenthood as Florida’s governor, following on his pledge this week to defund the organization as president.

But two of the more startling moments came when Marco Rubio (the candidate of the future) and Scott Walker (the Midwestern “mainstreamer”) made clear they opposed rape, incest, and life endangerment exceptions for abortion—positions that are absolute general election killers.

Megyn Kelly asked Scott Walker: “With 83 percent of the American public in favor of a life exception, are you too out of the mainstream on this issue to win the general election?”

Short answer: Yes, he’s too extreme.

But here’s Walker:

“Well I’m pro-life. I’ve always been pro-life. And I’ve got a position that’s consistent with many Americans out there in that I believe that that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection out there. And I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected and there are many alternatives that would protect the life of the mother. That’s been consistently proven. Unlike Hillary Clinton who has a radical position in terms of support for Planned Parenthood, I defunded Planned Parenthood more than four years ago long before any of these videos came out. I’ve got a position that’s in line with everyday America.”

Walker’s got “proven” methods for saving women’s lives. That’s magical. Do tell, Scotty, we’re all ears. The medical community is on pins and needles for your cure-all, no-exceptions, Scotty-knows-best alternative.

Not to be outdone, Rubio rejected Kelly’s assertion that he supports exceptions in cases of rape of incest.

Rubio: WellMegyn,first of all, I’m not sure that’s a correct assessment of my record. I would go on to add that I believe that all human life—Kelly: You don’t favor a rape and incest exemption?

Rubio: I have never said that. And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass a law that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. In fact I think that law exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States. And let me go further. I believe that every single human being is in entitled to the protection of our laws, whether they can vote or not. Whether they can speak or not. Whether they can hire a lawyer or not. Whether they have a birth certificate or not.

The crowd ate that up! It was a lie—Rubio has backed bills with rape/incest exceptions—but far be it from us to save him from general election irrelevancy.

Kerry Eleveld

GOP Celebrates 50th Anniversary Of The Voting Rights Act With Coded Call For More Voter Suppression

Alabama state troopers fire tear gas at civil rights marchers seeking the right to vote | AP PHOTO FILE

THINK PROGRESS

The Republican National Committee issued a statement on Thursday praising a law that Republican appointees to the Supreme Court have hobbled and that Republican officials have actively sought to undermine through state laws that disenfranchise racial minorities. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’s statement on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act even contains a coded call for more laws making it harder to Americans to cast a ballot.

The statement is drafted as if Republicans support the Voting Rights Act — a law they did actually support as recently as 2006, when Congress almost unanimously renewed the law. “We owe a great deal to those who stood up to discrimination, threats of violence and even death to push for the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965,” Priebus’s statement begins. The very next sentence, however, contains coded language which Republicans frequently use to describe laws that place barriers in the way of Americans seeking to vote: “Every citizen should have the chance to vote in our elections while we also work to ensure the integrity of the voting process by preventing things such as mistakes, fraud and confusion.”

Supporters of laws restricting the franchise frequently cite the need to protect voter “integrity” and prevent “fraud” at the polls in order to justify these laws. The conservative Heritage Foundation, for example, released talking points in 2014 seeking to defend some common proposals that create barriers to the franchise. Their first talking point was “[e]nsuring the security and integrity of the election process is critical to maintaining our democratic republic,” the second one was “Congress and the states should guarantee that every eligible individual can vote and that no person’s vote is negated by fraud.”

Similarly, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) defends his state’s voter ID law as “a common sense reform that protects the integrity of our voting process.” Armed law enforcement officers raided a group called Houston Votes, which registered low-income voters, as part of an investigation spearheaded by then-Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott’s (R) office. Though no charges were filed, Abbott’s aides defended the raid as an effort to “preserve the integrity of the ballot box” and to prevent voter fraud. When North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed omnibus legislation compiling multiple different restrictions on voting, the chair of the North Carolina Republican Party praised it as a tool seeking to address “massive potential voter fraud” and “protect the integrity of the ballot box.”

Yet, while Republicans and their allies are quick to warn about voter fraud and threats to voter integrity, reality does not match their rhetoric. Voter ID laws, for example, typically address just one form of voter fraud: voter impersonation at the polls. But such impersonation is only slightly more common than unicorns and dragons. A Wisconsin study of the 2004 election found just seven cases of fraud out of 3 million votes cast — and none of these seven cases involved voter impersonation at the polls. An investigation by former Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) found zero cases of in-person voter fraud over the course of several elections.

Laws such as voter ID, in other words, potentially disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, yet they address a problem that is little more than an illusion.

Because the voter suppression tactics supported by many Republicans often have a disproportionate impact on voters of color, the Voting Rights Act’s protections against racial voter discrimination are serious obstacles to efforts to implement these tactics. Indeed, on Wednesday, a federal appeals court held that Texas’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act.

Republicans, meanwhile, have done more to undermine the Voting Rights Act in the last three years then all of the slings and arrows hurled at the law by the Jim Crow South. All five Republicans on the Supreme Court joined a 5-4 decision gutting one of the law’s core provisions in 2013. And, while a bill seeking to restore much of the law received nominal support from Republicans in Congress, Republican leaders did not even schedule a hearing on this bill.

Earlier this year, a group of Democrats introduced a stronger version of the bill. In an interview with The Nation’s Ari Berman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) explained that the previous version was weaker because “[w]e made compromises to get [Republican] support and they didn’t keep their word.” Leahy has not found a single Republican co-sponsor for either version of the bill responding to the Supreme Court’s attack on the Voting Rights Act.

Thursday evening, just hours after the RNC released Priebus’s statement, ten candidates for the Republican presidential nomination will meet on a debate stage. They include Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has “worked to restrict where and when state residents can register to vote, vote early, and vote absentee.” They’ll also include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who carried out voter purge shortly before the election and Supreme Court decision that handed the presidency to Bush’s brother. Wisconsin Gov. Walker, of course, signed his state’s voter ID law. On the day that the justices handed down their decision striking down part of the Voting Rights Act, Sen. Ted Cruz attacked that act for subjecting “democratically-elected state legislatures to second-guessing by unelected federal bureaucrats.”

IAN MILLHISER

The GOP crack-up continues: The raging civil war over the disgusting “cuckservative” slur

The GOP crack-up continues: The raging civil war over the disgusting “cuckservative” slur

Donald Trump (Credit: AP/Charlie Neibergall)

SALON – 

Combining racism and misogyny, the insult lets Donald Trump backers claim other Republicans aren’t real men

I had a hard time taking this seriously, but the disgusting term “cuckservative” really is taking hold on the right. I’ll be honest: I learned about it a couple of weeks agofrom the mild-mannered, clean-cut conservative writer Matt Lewis, but I thought he was making too much of it. It seemed like trying to shame one’s critics based on the behavior of the worst asshole in a comments thread. I didn’t bite.

Then “cuckservative” started showing up in my Twitter mentions last week, after I suggested Donald Trump supporters might not be the brightest bulbs. As I clicked around, I came to a shocking conclusion: I’ve been uncharacteristically downplaying the amount of racism and misogyny powering the right today. The spread of the epithet “cuckservative” is a sign that the crudest psycho-sexual insecurity animates the far right.

“Cuckservative,” you see, is short for a cuckolded conservative. It’s not about a Republican whose wife is cheating on him, but one whose country is being taken away from him, and who’s too cowardly to do anything about it.

OK, that’s gross and sexist enough already, but there’s more. It apparently comes from a kind of pornography known as “cuck,” in which a white husband, either in shame or lust, watches his wife be taken by a black man. Lewis explains it this way: “A cuckservative is, therefore, a race traitor.”

This is not merely a new way to shout “RINO.” It’s a call to make the GOP an explicitly racist party, devoted to the defense of whites. It’s no accident it’s taken off in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign launch/performance art, where he attacked illegal Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals.”

White nationalist Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute explained Trump’s appeal to Dave Weigel: “a) he is a tougher, superior man than ‘conservatives’ (which isn’t saying much), and b) he seems to grasp the demographic displacement of European-Americans on a visceral level. We see some hope there.”

Rush Limbaugh helped spread the term to the mainstream when he praised Trump like this: “If Trump were your average, ordinary, cuckolded Republican, he would have apologized by now, and he would have begged for forgiveness, and he would have gone away.”

The folks behind the term are also wildly anti-Semitic. Huckabee became a popular target after he claimed President Obama’s Iran deal was “marching Israelis to the ovens.” The guys who bray “cuckservative” hate Obama, of course, but they may hate Israel more.

In the New Republic Jeer Heet shared this porny snippet from Gregory Hood’s anti-cuckservative manifesto in the white nationalist site American Renaissance:

They are like a man who tries to appeal to a woman through acts of submission; they inspire not desire but disgust. Each new conservative surrender inspires only further contempt in the hearts of leftists, which of course encourages conservatives to capitulate even more eagerly the next time.

There’s also the variety of cuckold who gets a thrill from watching another man mount his wife. Such a creature possesses the illusion of control. He can tell himself that he is directing this obscenity and thus remain, in some way, the dominant figure.

American conservatism is perhaps best summarized as maintaining a posture of command even as the reality of control is lost. Thus conservatives cheering on the demographic transformation of the country tell themselves they remain leaders in the new America. The cuck in the corner begging to be degraded is still technically the ‘man of the house,’ for all the good it does him.

Disgraced former Breitbot Chuck C. Johnson embraced the term last week in Takimag:

[Cuckservative is] about the fake, phony conservatives who enjoy watching the real fighters on the right get sodomized while they gleefully gawk. They crave respectability over power and the limelight over influence. Seldom paid for their performances on Fox News or MSNBC, they repeat conventional wisdom after getting gussied up—but you can’t polish a soul.

That’s some prose right there.

Jared Taylor, the white nationalist behind American Renaissance, is thrilled at all the attention.

They are squirming because a single word–cuckservative–lays bare the rot at the heart of your movement: American conservatism can conserve nothing if it cannot conserve the nation’s founding stock. I’ll put it bluntly: Nothing you love will survive without white people.

By last week, alarm about the use of the blatantly racist slur was beginning to spread on the right. The blogger Ace of Spades is a little concerned about what all of it means for the conservative movement, writing:

I am right now thinking that there are more white supremacists than I previously acknowledged, and am currently up in the air as to whether to dismiss this solely as a fringe-of-the-fringe phenomenon.

Other righties are refusing to dismiss it as “a fringe of the fringe.” At “Trial of the Century” blog Monday morning, Daniel Payne told the boys who bray “cuck” to “Go Cuck Yourself:”

Conservativism certainly needs a lot of work if it’s going to survive as a viable political philosophy in the twenty-first century and if it’s going to effect the kind of change conservatives themselves wish to see. But if we want these things to come about, we don’t need to be listening to the Chuck Johnsons or the cuckservative slingers or the people who actually use the term “real fighters” to describe themselves. They will not help. They’ll only make us look ridiculous and unintelligent, as they’ve already done quite handily for themselves.

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Unraveling the axis of stupid: How Iran deal sends neocons, exceptionalists and Fox News xenophobes to dustbin of history

Unraveling the axis of stupid: How Iran deal sends neocons, exceptionalists and Fox News xenophobes to dustbin of history

William Kristol, Sean Hannity, Donald Trump, Scott Walker (Credit: AP/Reuters/Janet Van Ham/Patrick Semansky/Richard Drew/Carlos Barria)

SALON

This Iran deal, sealed a week ago, makes me think of those cruises people take up the Pacific coast into Arctic climes: Everyone stands at the ship’s railings amazed as the icebergs go by, and good enough. But the cold world’s true wonders are unseen beneath the surface.

So it is with the accord governing Iran’s nuclear program, concluded in Vienna last Tuesday after 20 months of arduous talks. There is the seen and the submerged.

On the face of it this pact is a diplomatic stroke up there with Nixon’s opening to China. A dispute a dozen years old is brought peaceably to resolution, and a 36-year breach between Washington and Tehran can begin to mend. The world can now welcome the Islamic Republic back into the community of nations. Into the bin, at last, with that contemptible “axis of evil” rubbish Bush II forced the Western alliance to pretend to take seriously.

But keep your places at the railing, for President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have an iceberg to show us—the whole thing this time. Here come 60 days of theater and 60 days of history in one big lump. We will finish up in September, when Congress is to vote on the accord, wisened, moved and delighted all at once.

This may strike some readers as a precipitous. It was instantly plain that the right-wing majority on Capitol Hill, which, as so often, includes Democrats, is going to go at the Iran accord with longshoremen’s hooks during the next two months of debate. This is going to have any dimension of delight?

It is. In my view, the warmongers, exceptionalists, xenophobes and shameful creatures of AIPAC are going to look like the Light Brigade as they charge at the administration intent on destroying this agreement. Into the Valley of Death ride they. This, indeed, will be a delightful defeat to watch, in the best outcome a massacre.

The political calculus in this is already plain and does not seem arguable. On Monday the U.N. Security Council’s 15 members voted unanimously to begin lifting economic sanctions against Iran in 90 days—in effect endorsing the Vienna document. Even the ever-hawkish Samantha Power, obviously under White House orders, approved the resolution.

By the time the Security Council resolution passed, the European Union had already voted to back the accord and begin lifting some—not all—of the three sets of sanctions in place against Iran since 2006. As to Russia and China, they were both members of the P5 + 1 group of negotiators who sat at the mahogany table facing Iran; their position on this deal is beyond doubt.

Look at the lineup. Scuttling this accord—even trying to scuttle it—puts rightist American legislators against virtually all major powers and, I am confident, all secondary and minor powers, never mind “virtually.” Only Israel and the Saudis now stand against the achievement shared by P5 + 1 and Iran.

The blissful paradox here is too good to miss. The reactionaries, militarists and nostalgists who assert the sanctity of American leadership in global affairs most vigorously will be on full display as solitary laggards—incapable of participating sensibly in the 21st century. It is impossible to imagine those beyond our shores doing anything other than ignoring a congressional attempt to block the advance the Obama administration has fashioned with Iran and the three allies and two antagonists that comprise P5 +1.

Possessed of a political culture more than two millennia old, Iranian lawmakers have missed no trick. As of Tuesday, when they determined to withhold approval of the nuclear accord pending 80 days of deliberation—20 more than Congress has—the spring is set on the trap Obama’s opponents have set for themselves with stunning stupidity. Wreck this agreement and they will wreck it alone.

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The Republican prison experiment: How the right-wing conquest of the GOP altered political reality

The Republican prison experiment: How the right-wing conquest of the GOP altered political reality

attribution: NONE

SALON

How a stodgy, mainstream party was reinvented as a den of lunatics and monsters — and why it was no accident

Every so often I conceive the bizarre desire to help save the Republican Party from itself. This is futile even by the standards of futile campaigns launched by columnists, given the obvious fact that Republicans do not want my help and have good reason to mistrust my motives, and that if anyone in the GOP leadership actually read my advice, they would immediately do the opposite.

It isn’t that I feel some fervent nostalgia for the good old days of moderate Republicanism, although it’s true that the Nixon-era GOP was only microscopically to the right of today’s Democratic Party on most major policy questions – and decidedly to its left on healthcare and social spending. (Which United States president actually proposed a nationwide, single-payer healthcare system? Well, I’ve already given you the answer.) Go back to Dwight Eisenhower, who presided over a more progressive and redistributive tax code than anything seen before or since, and sent federal troops to desegregate the schools in Little Rock, and in relative terms it looks like Lenin and Trotsky trying to out-radical each other. (The top marginal tax rate on the wealthiest Americans in 1960 was 91 percent. Just try to convince your Fox News uncle of that one.)

All of that is amazing and incomprehensible today, as is the fact that the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate was a Republican (Edward Brooke, in 1966), and so was the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress (Margaret Chase Smith, elected to the House in 1940 and the Senate in 1948). But the real point lies a little deeper. It isn’t so much that the old Republicans were awesome, but at least they existed in the real world and practiced real politics. They had vigorous internal debates about numerous issues and represented a broad coalition of interests, holding to a reasonably coherent ideology of limited government, social order and support for business.

Those words are still used, of course; they are closely identified with the Republican brand. But thanks to the Matrix-like magic of our altered political reality, they do not mean what they used to mean. “Business” refers only to the infinitesimal ruling caste of multinational capital. “Limited government” means a limitless, borderless police state with low internal taxes and little or no social safety net. “Social order” means the stealth revocation of citizenship rights, first for blacks and women, to be sure, but ultimately for everyone else too.

There is no silver lining to the fact that one of our nation’s two political parties has disappeared into a self-concocted ideological fog of delusion and denial that has cut it off from political reality, American history, basic economic facts, international law and even its own past. The evil zombie sock-puppet condition of the GOP is the most gruesome single symptom of our failing democracy, and one that has inflicted immense harm not just on our country but the entire world. It didn’t happen by accident.

I would contend that the Republican Party has been the subject, willing or otherwise, of a version of the Stanford prison experiment, conducted on a grand scale. I wrote about that famous 1971 simulation, now the subject of a new feature film, earlier this week: A group of normal, middle-class California college students eagerly embraced roles as sadistic guards and abused prisoners, submitting almost immediately to the social order of an entirely fictional institution they knew had no real power. Properly understood, the Stanford experiment is not about prisons or schools or other overtly coercive social institutions, although it certainly applies to them. It is about the power of ideology and the power of power, about the fact that if you change people’s perception of reality, you have gone most of the way to changing reality itself.

The Republican Party did not organically evolve into a xenophobic, all-white party of hate that seeks to roll back not just the Civil Rights movement and feminism, but the entire Enlightenment. It did not accidentally become untethered from reality and float off to the moons of Pluto. Those possibilities were already present, but they had to be activated. Partly as a result of its own ideological weakness and internal divisions, the GOP was taken over from within and from above: In the first instance, by a dedicated core of right-wing activists, and in the second by the ultra-rich, super-PAC oligarchy epitomized by the Koch brothers. The two forces sometimes worked separately, but ultimately the first was funded and sponsored by the second.

One key element of this ideological conquest was that the party’s understanding of itself and its place in American politics and American history was reshaped to conform to a fictional narrative that is now widely believed to be true. Ultimately the Republican prison experiment has replicated itself on an even larger scale, remaking not just the GOP but American political reality.

Among other things, the GOP’s flight to Crazytown has permitted leaders of the Democratic Party to crawl ever more cozily into the pockets of Wall Street bankers and to become ever more intertwined with the national security state — while still proclaiming themselves, in all innocence and with considerable plausibility, to be less noxious than the alternative. So we see millions of well-meaning people getting ginned up to vote for Hillary Clinton, despite the nagging sensation that the political universe in which she represents the best available option is a cruel hoax. Pay attention to that feeling! It’s the reality we have discarded, banging on the door.

It’s true that the re-engineered Republican Party, with its counterfactual and frequently contradictory worldview, appeals most strongly to a shrinking minority of Americans, most of them white and male and rural or Southern. But despite that, or in some sense because of that, it has been an enormous success. Not only has the zombie GOP driven the Democrats much further to the right that at any point in their history, it has paralyzed the legislative process, driven electoral participation to historic lows and turned the deep American current of political apathy and mistrust into a majority sentiment. Whether or not the Republican prison experiment was consciously intended to produce a period of oligarchic rule in which political parties and elections become increasingly irrelevant and increasingly ignored, that has definitely been the outcome.

Some participants in Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s 1971 experiment began to believe, after just a few days, that they were real prisoners in a real prison, and that the outside world no longer existed or mattered. At any rate, they began to behave as if that were true, which in functional terms is much the same thing. Zimbardo himself became so engrossed in his fictional role as the prison warden that he lost all perspective on the morality and ethics of his experiment. Is it any wonder that after 30 to 40 years of sustained psychological warfare, most Americans who consider themselves conservatives believe that the current Republican Party represents undying, bedrock American principles that have never changed and never will? Freedom isn’t free, chump. These colors don’t run.

Any discussion of what those bedrock Republican and American values might be, beyond jingoistic clichés about freedom, is to be avoided at all costs. That might pierce the veil of unreality and reveal things that have been declared to be untrue, including that the Republican Party was not always anti-immigrant, not always opposed to socialized healthcare, not always committed to a fundamentalist reading of the Second Amendment and, for the love of Christ, not always obsessed with abortion.

Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak had to remind me about that one, in her discussion of the recent right-wing attack video purporting to show a Planned Parenthood employee discussing the sale of fetal body parts for nefarious purposes. Planned Parenthood is constantly and unanimously vilified by today’s Republicans as a Satan-worshiping, baby-killing feminist cult. But in 1970 it was granted federal funding by none other than the guest star of today’s show, President Richard Nixon. Furthermore, here’s what Nixon said at the time: “No American woman should be denied access to family-planning assistance because of her economic condition.”

I know: Mind blown. Read that quote to any of the 97 current Republican candidates for president and watch their heads explode. That Communistic rhetoric coming from the lips of Tricky Dick strikes me as noteworthy in several ways. Many leftists of my gender, it must be said, have a hard time focusing on how far the political climate around reproductive rights has eroded in the last 40 years. There were prominent pro-choice Republicans as recently as the mid-1990s, but the party’s official ideology on abortion has been reshaped by an activist minority just as the party itself was, through the use of emotionally charged symbols and images and the banishment of such wussified abstractions as facts, logic, history and context. Did Ronald Reagan need that kind of crap when he personally tore down the Berlin Wall, shot Hitler and freed the grateful slaves? He did not.

Lastly, there’s the most unlikely part of Nixon’s startling pronouncement: Its direct reference to economic inequalities and the need to address them. No Republican would say any such thing today, of course, and even for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, the commitment to equality comes surrounded by an ideological hedge: Healthcare for women, sure, but we’ll have to find a way for the market to provide it. I do not delude myself that Nixon cared about poor women or their health, but in the political climate of the time he was obliged to say he did. That political climate was exactly what had to be changed, from the point of view of the overlords who designed the Republican prison experiment, because it posed a long-term threat to their economic and political supremacy.

Social wedge issues like abortion and guns and immigration have been important elements in consolidating a more extreme Republican ideology and in firing up its core supporters. (Gay marriage worked that way for a while but has now been pitched overboard, except by poor, sad, sincere Rick Santorum.) But the powers behind the Republicans’ terrifying metamorphosis either don’t much care about those things or are being actively duplicitous, as with the immigration issue. They’re OK with pouring endless billions in wasteful deficit spending into the empty theater of border security (hey, at least it’s not going to poor people!), but they have no intention of cutting off the flow of low-wage labor, which benefits Big Capital in any number of ways.

Does anyone suppose that the Koch brothers, a pair of globetrotting culture-vultures whose names are carved in marble on the front of every New York fine-arts institution, give a single solitary fuck about all those Megachurch Dad-Pants Yahoo Apoplexy issues at the supposed heart of the supposed Republican ideology? Unless and until it impacts the bottom line, that stuff is just the icing on the delicious cake the Kochs are baking, a rich and eggy batter of soft corporate fascism inside a candy shell of imitation democracy. Can you smell it? It’s in the oven right now.

Progressives often view the zombified 21st century GOP with an understandable mixture of apprehension and bewilderment: How the hell did this happen? Can it really be working? The answers to those questions are that it was the result of a brilliant long-term strategy to alter the dynamics of American politics – to change perception, and then to change reality — and that it’s working much better than most people perceive. As Phil Zimbardo can tell you, when you’re inside the experiment it’s hard to see how much it has shifted your perspective.

Furthermore, those who comfort themselves with statistics about the dying Republican voter base, or political-science bromides about “the emerging Democratic majority” (which we have been promised for at least 20 years) are whistling past the graveyard. No doubt the Koch brothers will do their damnedest to get their boy-toy Scott Walker elected president, and I’m sure their dislike of Hillary Clinton is sincere. But they are shrewd enough to understand that it might not work, and also that the real prize is much bigger than one candidate or one party. They have redrawn the playing field of American politics and rewritten the rules of the game so effectively that even when they lose, they win. To put it another way, what good are the Democrats without democracy?

H/t: Don B.

Michael Steele Tells RNC to Condemn Trump: ‘People Know When You’re Full of BS’

steele

[Image via screengrab]

MEDIAITE

Former RNC chair Michael Steele criticized his replacement’s response to the Donald Trump fiasco on Meet the Press Sunday morning, telling current chair Reince Priebus that he had to forcefully condemn the celebrity plutocrat candidate or risk appearing disingenuous to voters.

“You’ve got to have that Sister Souljah moment with the party, where you have to be honest and call it what it is,” Steele said. “People are sophisticated enough to know when you’re just full of BS.”

“Everyone in the country reacted to this and you didn’t, the party didn’t, and those who want to be president didn’t — until what? This week? That’s a problem. It’s a problem of authenticity. It is a problem of legitimacy when you’re going to go speak to that community.”

Priebus called Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants “not helpful,” more than two weeks after they were originally made, part of what many consider a too-tepid response from a party seeking to court Hispanic voters.

Washington Post political editor Chris Cillizza agreed. “You cannot be afraid of the party’s base!” he said. “You will not win that way.”

Watch the clip via NBC News HERE<<<

Sunday Talk: The GOP’s id, personified

attribution: The Simpsons

DAILY KOS

If you’re surprised by the fact that DonaldTrumpTrump is now a leading contender for the GOP nomination for president, well then, clearly, you haven’t been paying attention.

Trump is, without a doubt, the biggestrichest, fastest, classiest, most elegant star in the Republican universe

When he speaks, he doesn’t just speak for himself—he speaks for people like Sheriff Joe Arpaio; and for Rich Lowry*; and for Rep. Steve King; and for Monica Crowley; and for Sen. Ted Cruz.

Truth be told, Trump gives voice to what millions of Republican primary voters are thinking, but dare not say out loud (for fear of ending up in one of President Obama’s FEMA camps).

Now, I’m not a (self-certified) psychiatrist, man, but I sometimes play one on the internets.

In that capacity, let me say this: You do you, GOP.

Morning lineup:

Meet the Press: Sen.Ted Cruz (R-TX); Roundtable: Chris Cillizza (Washington Post),Kathleen Parker (Washington Post), Carolyn Ryan (New York Times) and Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

Face the Nation: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA);Roundtable: Ruth Marcus (Washington Post), Mike Allen (Politico), Peter Baker (New York Times) and Talk Show Host Fernando Espuelas.

This Week: Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R); Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR); Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Roundtable: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Anne Gearan (Washington Post) and Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard).

Fox News Sunday: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R); Kelly Shackelford (Liberty Institute); Evan Wolfson (Freedom to Marry); Roundtable: Brit Hume (Fox News),Jackie Kucinich (USA Today), George Will (Washington Post) and Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R).

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: a report on errors to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File which can result in fraudulent payments costing taxpayers billions (preview); a report on a controversial procedure that could stop the spread of dangerous genes that have stalked families for generations (preview); and, an interview with actor Steve Carell (preview).