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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Right-Wing Conspiracy: It’s Real

You just don’t get it, if you don’t understand the utter thirst and wanton desire of Republicans for complete control of government, both state and federal.  They will essentially do anything they can to wrest control of the Presidency and of the Senate from Democrats.  So what’s new?, you ask.  Of course they want to win.  Isn’t that what political parties are for: to win elections?  The answer is: of course!  But, to what lengths should either party be allowed to go in order to achieve their objectives?  That’s the real question.

Did you know, for example, that the Republican leaders in the House and Senate actually had a four-hour dinner meeting on the night Barack Obama was inaugurated, at which time they put together a strategy for attacking Obama and members of his administration?
According to Robert Draper's much-discussed and heavily-reported book, "Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives," the guest list that night  included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) -- who, Draper writes, had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz.

For several hours in the “Caucus Room” (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but how to put the brakes on Obama's legislative platform, showing united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies. (Eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor held the House Republicans to a unanimous “No” against Obama’s economic stimulus plan.)  When Mitch McConnell said in October 2010 that his party's primary goal in the next Congress was to make Obama a one-term president, it was their declaration of war against Obama’s administration.  This raises another central question:  when does political opposition tip over into a failure of Congress to fulfill its constitutional duty to “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing powers….” which include, for instance, the power to collect taxes, the power to borrow money, the power to regulate commerce.  When does obstruction of a President’s programs and policies morph into complete neglect of the people’s needs? 

In my estimation, this Congress has not only failed in its duty to the country, it has fallen into a pattern that is just short of unpatriotic maneuvering, and very close to a violation of  the constitution of these United States.  The Republicans now campaign on the inability of the President to turn around the worst economy since the Great Depression.  But congressional rejection of every attempt to grow the economy, plus unfortunate remnants of Bush policies, have together caused the sputtering of the economy.  Every time the economy shows signs of improving, Congress manages to stop any measures that might help it grow, all because they don’t want the President to get any credit for a turn-around.  And so it goes…

There were other conspiratorial meetings as well.  The infamous Koch brothers have been hosting many of these.  According to the film, “The Koch Brothers Exposed” they have held strategy meetings with invited corporate barons on an on-going basis.  What do they discuss?  Well, we have to surmise that where to best put their multitudinous dollars is undoubtedly a popular topic.  Another topic could well be the strategies involved in utilizing Super PACs and their grass-roots organization Americans for Prosperity that organizes and oversees their right-wing agenda.  Another popular topic is most likely the best strategies for destroying the Obama administration and his re-election campaign.

We get some inside information from reporter Lee Fong who posted an article titled “Koch Brothers Convene Ultra-Secret Billionaires Meeting to Raise Funds, Plot Strategy” on on February 3, 2012. According to his posting, dozens of wealthy donors convened in a large golf resort in Indian Wells, California for a four day conference to raise money and plot out election year strategy.  Some in attendance included Phil Kerpen, the vice president of Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party group founded by David Koch; wealthy mutual fund manager Foster Friess, a social conservative who gained headlines recently for his massive backing of a super PAC supporting Rick Santorum; billionaire investor Phil Anschutz, another regular Koch attendee and major conservative financier; Kenny Troutt, a financier of a super PAC that supported Rick Perry’s bid for the presidency; Harold Hamm, head of a large fracking company that dominates the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota.  These are just some of the attendees, based on private planes observed at nearby airports.

Fong says that “during the meetings, strategy is discussed, from legislative campaigns to judicial elections, and money is raised from an assortment of executives from the oil, banking, manufacturing, and real estate industries.”  He also said that such meetings are on-going with many of these same billionaires having attended in the past.  “At (a previous) Koch meeting, an event in Vail, Colorado, Charles Koch raised several million dollars from his cohorts, while referring to President Obama as ‘Saddam Hussein’ and this year’s election as the ’mother of all wars‘.”  And, to top it off, this very weekend, the Koch Brothers are holding a secret gathering of billionaires to continue plotting strategies to buy the election. They plan to throw millions -- if not billions -- of Big Corporation dollars into Super PACs to smear the President and Democrats across the country.

There can be little doubt about the fact that there is a plan behind, for instance, the widespread attempt to reduce voter registration and voting itself (through state laws eerily similar in content) that hide as voter fraud prevention, but end up as voter suppression.  And whose potential vote is being suppressed?  Why, of course, those who tend to vote for Democrats: Hispanic-Americans, the elderly poor, the poor generally, African-Americans, college students, and anyone else who might have difficulty obtaining a valid ID for voting, like some persons with a disability which renders them less mobile.  Thirty-two states have pursued some sort of voter ID law that tends to suppress these same voters.  While some details of the state laws differ, there is an overall outline and pattern that leads one inevitably to the conclusion that this was a planned project.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, (last updated June 7, 2012), Voter ID continues to be a high-profile issue in many state legislatures this year. Last year, 34 states considered voter ID legislation. This year, legislation was introduced in 32 states. That includes new voter ID proposals in 14 states, proposals to strengthen existing voter ID laws in ten states, and bills in ten states to amend existing laws, many of them new voter ID laws passed in 2011.

Given the fact that the Governors of 29 of these states are Republican Conservatives gives greater credence to this assertion of common planning (or conspiracy).  Already, the strong field of GOP governors elected in 2010 on a wave of Tea Party momentum were on the same track – from John Kasich in Ohio, to Rick Scott in Florida, Paul LePage in Maine and Nikki Haley in South Carolina.  “Armed with the stamp of approval voters gave Scott Walker of Wisconsin…there's likely no looking back for this crop of conservative reformers.” (US News and World Report)

"They've all taken similar approaches, trying to control the influence of unions, reduce spending, cut taxes coming out of that wave of Tea Party elections in 2010," says Barry Burden, political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"It's a signal to them they should keep on marching and they shouldn't fear so much that the electorate thinks they have over-reached because here's a state (Wisconsin) that votes Democratic as often as it votes Republican and a pretty conservative Republican governor has been able to hang on," he says.

But this is not the only clue to the existing conspiracy on the part of conservative Republicans.  In brief, we have seen:

--Across-the-board holding-back of profits in many private businesses to the tune of around $2 trillion; this one particular tactic helps to keep unemployment above 8%

--At least since 2010, the rejection or blockage of all important national legislation that would tend to improve the economy;  Professor Burden again:
    “The dismal May jobs report underscores the success of the Republicans’ strategy of frustrating President Barack Obama’s economic policies from the second he took office and, in effect, holding the struggling U.S. economy hostage to GOP electoral victories.  Already, pundits are declaring that the anemic increase of only 69,000 jobs in May will help put Mitt Romney in the White House –  because the mainstream U.S. press is playing the disappointing job numbers as proof of Obama’s “failed” economic policies, rather than a result of persistent Republican sabotage.”
    It doesn’t seem to matter to American journalists that the evidence of this Republican plot to make the U.S. economy “scream” has been out in the open for the past several years, including author Robert Draper’s report of a destroy-Obama strategy session on the night of Obama’s Inauguration and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s famous vow that the top Republican priority must be ensuring Obama’s defeat;

-- Threats to repeal all important legislation that did get through a Democratic Congress in 2009-2010, including the Affordable Health Care Act and the Dodd-Frank bill, for example;

--Use right wing justices to allow unfettered and unreported contributions to political campaigns under guise of free speech.  Citizens United has unleashed obscene amounts of
cash into the political arena, unfettered by disclosure as to donors and amounts given.  It is a lynch-pin in the strategy to control all aspects of government;

--Destroy government programs for middle-class and working poor, as well as those in poverty, thus reducing their incentive and their power;

--Get rid of all restrictive regulations on businesses;

--Attack public education - raise interest rate on Stafford loans, cut Pell grants, drop pre-k; lay off teachers; support private educational institutions;

--Attack certain women’s rights and services;

--Make the president appear to be an outsider: Kenyan-born, Muslim, socialist, an appeaser of foreign countries, to mention just a few of the epithets;

--Use existing Bush policies against the President: tax cuts for the rich, for example;

--Use Karl Rove and super PACs to overcome the incumbent’s advantage in fundraising;

--Tell the same lies over and over until they become ingrained in the minds of not-so-well-informed voters, such as:  Obama wants to raise taxes; government takeover of health care; failure of the Stimulus bill, etc.

The same beat goes on and on and on.  But it is not a progression of unrelated endeavors, simply thought up by individuals and pursued independently by various politicians.  This is an orchestrated movement, designed to make permanent a right-wing agenda and radically conservative government at the state and national levels.  This is not simply a strategy for winning the 2012 presidential election; this is a strategy for shifting the preponderance of political power to the far Right in this country. 

Those voters who fail to understand this motivation, who fail to understand the consequences of such a conspiracy, will have only themselves to blame when the public sector is so weakened and under-funded that the citizenry has no where to turn when national or personal disaster strikes, when a special need is paramount, when banks and corporations overcharge and manipulate and defraud and there is no appeal nor anyone available to provide protection.  Should these right-wing extremists prevail in this bold conspiracy, there will come a time when American citizens will wonder if they are living in a banana republic where bribery is rampant, justice is unattainable, bridges, roads and schools are crumbling, and crime is rampant; where higher education is a privilege for the few who can afford it, and jobs are parceled out on the basis of who knows whom, or who can offer the best ‘deal.’

You think it can’t happen?  It is already happening.  Look at the placement of the United States among the nations in terms of education or life expectancy.  Look at the loss of teachers, firefighters, police, and construction workers.  Look at our roads and bridges and schools:  how many are untenable and have already collapsed?  Look at your state government: is it cutting services, is it closing parks; are you being told that they can’t help you with your problem; is your local public library now closed on certain days?  Why are so many children in this country living in poverty, and going hungry?  Will children of pre-k age be doomed to failure in grade school because they could not access Head Start or pre-k classes that have been cut?

The aim of the radical Republicans is to reduce government to a smaller size.  That strangulation of the public sector will rebound to hurt millions of people, and YOU, dear reader, may be the beneficiary of that misguided concept.  Government, large or small, is not your enemy. 

Your enemy is the small cadre of privileged people, including certain politicians, who think that control of this country should be in their hands alone, in order to promote their particular beliefs, mores, and philosophy (including their religion).  We are almost there.  Congress is under the care and tutelage of those rich enough to hire lawyers and lobbyists to prevent legislation, regulation, and taxes that hurt their profiteering.  They seek even tighter control than they already possess.  They are counting on an uninformed and complacent electorate, shorn of minorities and students and others who do not vote their way, to give them much broader control of state houses and legislatures, complete control of the Congress, and control of the Presidency so they can turn their conspiracy into a reality the likes of which we have never seen. 

The election of 2012 is a watershed moment in our history.  The outcome will determine our future vision and version of what this country is meant to be.  Our place in the world will also be determined by that outcome.  We are on the brink of a disaster from which we may not recover if this conspiracy becomes the predominant force.  Putting Mitt Romney in the White House will surely be the push over the edge, because his swing to the far right assures that he will be the puppet of the 1% who will take control.  Do the conspirators have the advantage?  Will they have the opportunity to seize government and control your life?  Will they be able to complete the transformation of our representative government into rule of the many by the few?  Your vote for President Obama in this election (and for those who support his Vision and policies) really stands for something monumental: the continuation of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  It’s all up to YOU…!