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Steven Jonas

Steven Jonas (211)

In an article in The New York Times on December 2, 2007 (Herzenhorn, D., "How the Filibuster Became the Rule") the GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told us how it would be whenever the GOP had that solid minority of 40 votes in the Senate: "I think that we can stipulate once again for the umpteenth time that matters that have any level of controversy about it [sic] in the Senate will require 60 votes."  In December, 2008, the titular leader of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh, announced his wish for the incoming Obama Administration.  It was four words long: "I hope he fails."  Working together, Limbaugh and McConnell have converted Limbaugh's "hope" to pretty much of a certainty in terms of legislation and appointments. Very skillfully using the filibuster and the internal pressure he can exert on his members, McConnell has made the myth that "Obama caused the mess," which you hear every day on Beckoning Savagely Le-vinitating O'RHannibaugh come absolutely true, preventing Obama from doing the really big things that need to be done if the mess is ever to be cleaned up.  And all the while Obama just about never makes that point.  The GOP's Perfect Storm.

Homophobia has been around for a long time.  It turns up in the Old Testament of the Bible as well as in the New.  The Republican Religious Right relies on that view in support of its homophobia, and cites chapters and verses in support of it.  (Not every religious scholar agrees with that interpretation of the Bible.  Indeed, Minister Peter Gomes, the well-known gay [and African-American] Baptist long-time director of the Harvard Divinity School, strongly disagrees with it [see Gomes, P.J., "Homophobic? Re-read Your Bible,"  New York Times, August 17, 1992, and Westminster, J., The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022, East Setauket, NY, Thomas Jefferson Press, 1996, pp.155-56]).  In modern times it was used by the Nazis to promote their ideology once Hitler's dictatorship had been established.  Indeed, despite the fact  that the head of the Sturmabteilung, the SA, the most prominent pre-1933 Nazi armed force, Ernst Roehm, was himself homosexual and Hermann Goering was a cross-dresser, the Nazis went after the gays as their identity group of choice for demonization before they went after the Jews full force.

Homophobia has been around for a long time.  It turns up in the Old Testament of the Bible as well as in the New.  The Republican Religious Right relies on that view in support of its homophobia, and cites chapters and verses in support of it.  (Not every religious scholar agrees with that interpretation of the Bible.  Indeed, Minister Peter Gomes, the well-known gay [and African-American] Baptist long-time director of the Harvard Divinity School, strongly disagrees with it [see Gomes, P.J., "Homophobic?

The 9/11 remembrances and memorials seem to have come and gone very quickly this year, except to the extent that the GOP/Tea-Party led campaign for Islamophobia had gained strength and will continue on, to what ends and endings no one at this point can say with certainty.  (For more of my thoughts on that issue, see my last BuzzFlash Commentary.)


But the 9/11 controversy has not gone away, that is, the controversy over what were the real causes of the disaster.  It will not, at least until there is another investigation of the tragedy bringing in many more witnesses and testifiers from many different points of view and perspectives with an opportunity to raise so many questions that have yet to be answered and to offer for consideration scientific evidence about cause and effect that was not considered in the first investigation.

As Alan Grayson said (Email message, 8/22/10): "As far as the Republican Party is concerned, they wouldn't mind if Timothy McVeigh wins the Republican primary [in his Florida Congressional district] on Tuesday. (And by the way, if McVeigh ran, he would win.) The National Republican Party doesn't care who wins on Tuesday. They just want to get rid of me.  Whoever wins the Republican primary, you can be sure that he fits the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, hateful, fearful mold that is the National Republican Party of 2010. And that mold gets moldier every day."

Do you think that Mr. Grayson went too far with the Timothy McVeigh comment?  In a speech last month, talking to the faithful, Sean Hannity referred to them as "Timothy McVeigh wannabees" -- to great applause.


Back on March 21, 2007, in a column on The Political Junkies.net, the predecessor webmagazine to TPJmagazine.us, I speculated that perhaps the primary objective of the Iraq Invasion from the beginning was not "oil and bases" which so many of us figured it was when the war was commenced. Rather, I then surmised, it was to establish the basis for Permanent War. At that time I thought that the reason for doing this was political, to establish the basis for Karl Rove's dream of a Permanent Republican Majority. The real purpose of the so-called "Surge" in my view, an action that was strongly opposed by none other than James Baker et al and Bob Gates (see the article referenced above), was to establish the on-the-ground implementation of that strategy.

Unfortunately for that Bush/Cheney aim, Iraq is enough of a politically advanced country to have eventually told Bush that the US had to get out. It will be, next year. Come what may on the ground. The current Iraqi government (no radicals they) simply does not want US troops on the ground for very much longer. So, Permanent War folks, what to do? Afghanistan, that's what. But why, you might ask. The GOP is not in power, at least not formally, although through the use of the filibuster in the Senate they effectively run the Congress. Well let's take a look at that question.

In 1987 the Yale historian Paul Kennedy published a prescient book entitled The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (New York: Random House). From the back cover copy: "Although the United States is at present still in a class of its own economically and perhaps even militarily, it cannot avoid confronting the two great tests which challenge the longevity of every major power that occupies the 'number one' position in world affairs: whether, in the military/strategical realm, it can preserve a balance between the nation's perceived defense requirements and the means it possesses to maintain those commitments; and whether, as an intimately related point, it can preserve the technological and economic bases of its power from relative erosion in the face of ever-shifting patterns of global production. . . . [T]he United States now runs the risk, so familiar to historians of the rise and fall of previous Great Powers, of what might roughly be called 'imperial overstretch:' that is to say, decision makers in Washington must face the awkward and enduring fact that the sum total of the United States' global interests and obligations is nowadays far larger than the country's power to defend them all simultaneously."

The GOP's biggest problem with the undocumented aliens -- illegal immigration -- problem, whatever you want to call it, is that someday it might be solved. After all, the current legislation was put in place by a GOP President, Reagan. The last GOP President couldn't get immigration "reform" passed when his own party was in control of the Congress because bunches of them voted against his proposals. No, the "immigration problem" is one of the GOP's favorite "dog whistles" to use Truthout's William Rivers Pitt's wonderful term -- the ways they have dreamed up to camouflage their fundamental racism. They simply don't want it go away and they will do everything they can to make sure that it doesn't. For them it is the gift, created first and foremost by one of the GOP mainstays, corporate agribusiness indeed back in the 1980s, that keeps on giving.

For most of its existence since the end of Reconstruction following the election of 1876, the Republican Party has been the party of reaction in the United States.  In fact, the only reason that Rutherford B. Hayes, the GOP candidate in that disputed election, won was that he agreed to end Reconstruction, essentially turning over the Southern states to the former slaveholders and the Ku Klux Klan.  There was one bright exception to this rule, Theodore Roosevelt.  There were two other exceptions, although not on the scale of the great reformer (and imperialist too).  One was Dwight D. Eisenhower, who, at the end of World War II did not know to which party he belonged.  In fact, Harry S. Truman tried to recruit him to be the Democratic nominee in 1952.  "Ike" chose the Republicans and defeated Robert Taft for the nomination. 

I just saw “Inception” -- a great, highly imaginative movie about the alternate reality of dreams.  And so I got to thinking.  Suppose the barons of the Fed and Wall Street had been able to do just a bit more of their behind-the-scenes legerdemain (which, we continue to find out, goes on all the time) and postpone the September 15, 2008 Lehman Brothers meltdown until, let’s say, November 7, 2008.  That would have been a couple of days after the 2008 election and, funnily enough, on the Gregorian calendar the 91st anniversary of the Russian Revolution.  As it happened, McCain had overtaken Obama in the polls by mid-September 2008, when the bankruptcy did occur, with the subsequent collapse of the real estate bubble, the subsequent collapse of the economy, the Paulson/Bush first bank bailout, and so forth and so on.

For those who might not be familiar with the term, "fuhgeddaboudit" is one of those three-into-one Noo Yawk words that puts the final stamp on the subject with which it is concerned.  Yes, folks, good folks like Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa can present very logical arguments for getting rid of the most anti-democratic rule crippling the functioning of any legislature in any of the "Western Democracies” (see his "Fixing the Filibuster" of June 30, 2010).  However, as long as the Democratic Losership Council (love that name, applied by a commentator on an earlier commentary of mine) controls the Democratic Party, it ain't going to happen.

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