Friday, May 06, 2011

Ryan, Royal Rogaine, and the Republican birthright.

The importance of birth, from Ryan, Royals & Rogaine to Republicans.
Ian Williams
Tribune 6 May 2011

Okay: get over it. The Royal Wedding was an embarrassment, but it is nothing compared with the circus that passes for politics here in the Land of Free. On the whole, I’d rather tolerate a monarchy.

As the vows were exchanged, President Obama released his full birth certificate in an attempt to buy off the baying packs of conservatives, a majority of Republicans, who do not believe he was born in the US. Within hours, he predictable response was that the certificate was a forgery! Republican controlled states are busily introducing “Birther bills” purporting to ensure that presidential candidates produce full documentation of their births.

All of this is just commentary. The real issue is that the President is black, not to mention not Republican, and this is anathema for a significant minority. While it embarrasses some of the Republican leadership, it serves them because it reminds a significant minority of voters of the real issue: there’s a black man in the White House.

And all of those in the UK who look longingly at primary elections should note that the issue of Obama’s birthplace was originally raised by the Hillary Clinton campaign during the primary, with precisely the same cynical intention of raising the race issue.

It is not just a passing aberration, Donald Trump, whose name in older English appropriately means “fart” has led business after business into bankruptcy (he even managed to lose money with a casino!) is the favoured candidate of Republicans perhaps because he calls other countries, like those whose money bankrolls the US deficit, “Motherfuckers” and believes that the US should just go and take “our” oil from the Middle East. He was of course one of the leading “birthers,” and is now demanding Obama’s school records, hinting of course that the President, an ace scholar at Harvard only got in through positive discrimination.
But the Republican Party is inclusive in its lunacy. With wildfires sweeping across drought-stricken Texas, its Republican Governor declared three “Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas,” while governors in several Republican states, who must have had nightmares about Thomas the Tank Engine when they were kids, have turned down billions of dollars to build high speed rail networks.

Crowning it all was the “budget” for 2012 moved by Republican congressman Paul Ryan. Faced with a huge budget deficit, the Republican majority voted for an alleged deficit reduction plan that reduced taxes - on the rich - maintained military spending, but does cut out the few traces of civilization the United States has maintained - public health care provision for the elderly.

Almost all its budget cuts come from programmes that helped the poor and elderly - in a country with an already far from generous safety net.

However, what is refreshing is that for once ideology has trumped political expediency. Reducing taxes on rich people who have just rewarded themselves with huge bonuses for masterminding a global financial crisis is, shall we say, brave. So is attacking Medicare, a very popular government programme for the section of the population most likely to vote. In the land of cognitive dissonance, Republicans actually attacked Obama’s healthcare plan for making savings in Medicare, leading to, in the land of cognitive dissonance,Tea Party demonstrators saying “Keep government hands off my Medicare.”

There are already signs of a backlash against the budget plans, just as in Wisconsin the governors anti-labour agenda provoked a long belated upsurge from the unions and workers with recall petitions against many of the Republicans who voted for it. And not so covert attacks on immigrants and minorities might not be the best strategy when the census shows that the “minorities” are becoming the majority!

However, sadly, Obama and the Democrats are so closely tied to the business donors that polls suggest that they are far to the right of voters on on many issues and are failing to articulate the policies that would allow them to break the Republican majority. It all makes pondering why there is no royal Rogaine for the balding princeling seem a productive exercise.

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