I lived to See the Day when the Pope and the President of Iran are more doctrinally Flexible than the GOP

The United States has all along been a society dominated by the wealthy, and more especially by the business classes. But businesspeople are not all cut from the same cloth. You had high-minded responsible businessmen like Benjamin Franklin and you had mean-spirited businessmen, including the plantation slave-owners.

In recent months we have been bombarded by news items emanating from the really, really do-absolutely-nothing GOP-dominated House of Representatives, which when it does do something usually does something downright mean. Also rigid and unthinking and narrow-minded and wrong-headed. There, I’ve repeated myself. It might have been enough to say “GOP.” And some of the Republicans in the Senate haven’t been much better.

At a time when Pope Francis I has called for the Church to be less rigid in its attitudes toward e.g. gays as persons, and when President Hassan Rowhani of Iran has sought a more reasonable tone toward the US and Israel, our hard line Republicans have become more and more blinkered.

The House of Representatives has just passed a budget that would keep the government operating until later this fall, as the fiscal year ends, but only if the Senate and President Obama agree to defund the Affordable Health Care Act, which is the law of the land and cannot be defunded.

Note that the GOP House did not actually pass a proper budget. It doesn’t believe enough in government to do that. It just permitted the government not to close down altogether, but only if it can impose its minority views on the rest of the country. President Obama ran twice on health care reform and if the country had wanted to get rid of the AHCA, it could have voted for Mitt Romney but it didn’t. The GOP House has wasted a lot of time attempting to repeal Obamacare, which it cannot do at the moment because the Democrats have the Senate and the presidency. They know this. Governing for them has become like a strange ritual.

The reason the GOP wants to do away with the Affordable Health Care Act is that big business does not want it, and the Republicans in the House of Representatives no longer represent the American people. They represent big business and it alone. Big business deserves to have some representation in the US government. The 2000 biggest corporations are half the US economy. But they don’t deserve to be the only voice that is heard there, and they shouldn’t be able to undo the will of the majority of voters with a whispering campaign on the Hill.

The GOP is willing to try to destroy the AHCA, even though this act benefits some 30 million Americans who otherwise lack health insurance. Apparently they are supposed to do without medical care until they get deathly ill, at which case they should take a chance on Emergency Room Treatment. This proposition is a non-starter. The heroic health care professionals in ERs cannot possibly serve all those 30 million. And, it is much more expensive for taxpayers to pay for emergency room care than to simply fund the AHCA. It is only business interests that would benefit from the latter’s demise. Not the middle classes who pay the taxes and don’t have Caribbean tax havens. Not the poor, whose health suffers from lack of medical care and physician access. Children are much less healthy later in life if their mothers had no regular physician visits, and lack of such visits raises the risk of miscarriage and infant mortality.

The GOP House, in trying to get rid of Obamacare, is literally acting as baby-killers. They are set on this course the way the Inquisition used to be determined to burn heretics at the stake. They are loyal servants of the corporations, the way the Aztecs were loyal servants of the gods to whom they sacrificed innocent victims.

The Grand old Party of Scrooge likewise cut $4 billion a year in food stamps. Having deregulated the banks and encouraged the demon instrument of derivatives and driven the country into the ground with their economic policies, the Republicans now want to heap further punishment on the very people they have made homeless. Before the apogee of GOP policy in 2008, 11 percent of Americans were poverty-stricken and food insecure. Every year since the Great GOP Depression of the 21st Century, the percentage of food insecure people in America has been over 14. The GOP, having advocated baby-killing through the abolition of Obamacare, now wants to engage in baby-starving.

Not since British landlords actually exported food from Ireland for profit during the Great Famine of the 1840s have we seen this kind of hard-heartedness in an elite.

Have we had a rash of mass killings? Should we have gun control? No, because a handful of huge corporations such as Colt and others make billions off semi-automatic pistols and rifles. The GOP doesn’t represent the children who are shot down by the mentally unbalanced with those weapons. It represents the manufacturers and the retailers who make money off the sale of military-style weapons to civilians.

Has Egypt had a military coup and engaged in a bloody crackdown? A congressional delegation including Michele Bachmann promptly went off to Cairo to assure the generals that they fully supported the human rights violations. Ironically, Bachmann’s policies in the US differ little except by denomination from the Muslim Brotherhood she hates, and the secular officers would arrest her as a fundamentalist and cultist if they knew what she advocates.

Is Iran’s new president positioning himself for serious negotiations with the US? Sen Lindsey Graham calls for war on Tehran, and Congress passes stringent new sanctions that amount to financial warfare on that country.

This Congress, and especially the House of GOP Scrooges, represents narrow and mean-spirited interests, not the broad mass of Americans. Indeed, it seems obvious that if only they could find a way to legalize slavery again, the GOP would be perfectly happy to sell us down the river for the sake of our plantation masters.

It is the policy of a cult, not of a national party that has a hope of gaining the presidency. They should take a lesson from other cults that have attempted to rule in a narrow and injurious manner, producing public anger and backlash against them. Indeed, that was exactly the charge against deposed Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi. There won’t be a coup against the GOP Scrooges, but it seems very likely that there will be a wave of public revulsion that reduces them to further isolation and irrelevance.

35 Responses

  1. -
    I’m not sure why you think that, since the Affordable Health Care Act is the law of the land, that it cannot be defunded.

    I believe that the Executive Branch doesn’t support a lot of things that are the law of the land, so they just don’t execute what the Congress has authorized.

    For example, demilitarizing chemical weapons by the 2007 deadline was never a priority for Clinton, Bush or Obama, so even though it was an obligation under an international treaty, and thus the law of the land, they failed to even request funding, let alone exedute.

    Another example is funding VA care. Lots of vets don’t get served timely, and individual Representatives and Senators claim to be upset by that, but it doesn’t get fixed.

    You may ercall the position of Attorney General Holder on enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act.
    -

  2. Dear Professor Cole

    I know most Americans don’t know where Europe is, ( Clue:it is on the other side or the Atlantic, near Russia) however most people of Polish extraction will know where Poland is.

    They know about John Sobieski and the Hussaria and the magnificent charge outside Vienna.

    Less well known is the disfunctional Sejm, the parliament that was bought and controlled by the neighbouring countries.

    How did the Republicans manage to import this system into the US? Will the US be dismembered between Mexico and Canada?

  3. The petty laundry list of conditions the house GOP extorted into a federal budget bill included building the Keystone XL pipeline. Is the GOP just a blatant political arm of right wing capital?

    • John McLaren asked, “Is the GOP just a blatant political arm of right wing capital?”

      The answer is: Yes. That is what the GOP has become.

  4. The Republicans are in the same position now that the Democrats were in for 20 years after 1972. The McGovern “reforms” of the Democratic party, and McGovern’s crushing defeat in 1972, destroyed any chances of winning the Presidency (Jimmie Carter was an anomaly who would not have won but for Nixon’s crimes involving Watergate) until Bill Clinton and the Democratic Centrists won in 1992. In order to win the primary, Democratic candidates had to run so far to the left that they didn’t stand a chance of winning the general election.

    Republicans are now in the wilderness, just as the Democrats were then, and for the same reason. In order to win the primary, Republican candidates must run so far to the right that they don’t stand a chance of winning the general election. Judging from the way the Tea Party and the party’s extreme right seem to dominate, it looks like the Republicans will remain in the wilderness for many years, just as the Democrats did.

  5. The GOP doesn’t object to $6 billion a month being wasted in Afghanistan…that’s $6 billion a month!…but food stamps is considered a complete waste.

    I look at Eric Cantor and want to say…how about we cut back on aid to Israel? Just to see him go into cardiac arrest.

  6. i find the opprobrium against the GOP self indulgent righteousness. the reality is that both parties are nearly identical. my guess is that obama is going to use the GOP cacaphony as cover for a grand bargain in which he cuts social security and medicare. the good cop–dems and obie–will have to –sadly–make a deal because of the GOP crazies. nice storyline to sell to liberal professors and do gooders. but i think the fix has been in since clinton turned the democratic party into republican party lite.

  7. I was going to read your article but I stopped after the first paragraph. “You had high-minded responsible businessmen like Benjamin Franklin and you had mean-spirited businessmen, including the slave-owners.” Uhh, I don’t know if you’re ignoring facts or history or what, but Franklin owned slaves. So your credibility to me was gone a single paragraph in.

    • Everybody had slaves then. Benjamin Franklin was high-minded rather than mean spirited. Perhaps he should have made a distinction between people who had slaves and people whose business was trading slaves.

    • Ben had some household slaves as almost all wealthy Americans then did but he freed them and advocated abolition.

    • You weren’t interested in reading the article. It’s OK, I was a republican once. Then I grew up.

    • In the 18th century, Rhode Island was the state most connected to slavery.Brown University’s connection to the slave trade is a fascinating tale.

      Until the cotton gin was invented in 1793, slavery wasn’t big business in the lower south.

    • In his defense he said plantation slave owners. Franklin had two slaves that acted as personal assistants/servants. Not that that excuses it, but he didn’t have a plantation.

  8. “You had high-minded responsible businessmen like Benjamin Franklin and you had mean-spirited businessmen, including the slave-owners.”–to me, this sentence construction appears to imply that the two set of individuals are mutually exclusive: high-minded “responsible businessmen” and “mean-spirited businessmen.” Benjamin Franklin did own slaves. He may have signed petitions towards the end of his life, advocating for the end of slavery, indicating a dramatic change of thinking at the end of his life, but that does not detract from the reality that he owned slaves and advertised for their capture when they ran away. He may not had plantations like Thomas Jefferson with hundreds of slaves, and (maybe) a bulk of his wealth may not have derived thereby from slavery, but owning slaves (even several–not hundreds like TJ) means the that some of his wealth derived from being “mean-spirited.”

    Sincere apologies (I mean it), if this comes across as nit-picky or surly–in this regard, I may find myself a bit annoyed. It’s just that so much of early-American history is lacking in detail and presentation, when it was only some 300 years ago.

    • Ben had some household slaves as almost all wealthy Americans then did, but he freed them and advocated abolition.

    • Early American history is lacking in detail because slavery in the north has been effectively covered up. However, in the last few years, in New York City HUGE slavery burial grounds have been uncovered. In 1741, in the same city, after a slave revolt twelve slaves were actually burned at the stake.

      Cotton plantations weren’t big business before the cotton gin was invented in 1793.

  9. “Having deregulated the banks and encouraged the demon instrument of derivatives and driven the country into the ground with their economic policies, …”

    Signed into law with a big smile while surrounded by Wall Street vultures by President Bill Clinton of the Democratic Party.

  10. There are folks who post here, and in the “policy community” and among the Beltway Bandits in all branches of The Government, who have lots of facts and factoids at their ready command, along of course with Talking Points to hammerhammerhammer on to “establish the Truth.” In the same way medieval physicians had lots of “everyone knows” to work from in diagnosing and treating illness: that Humors controlled the balance of the body, that bleeding and blistering and shaving and cold baths and various toxins employed on the Truth that “like cures like,” so near-killing someone who was vomiting by loading them up with strong emetics was the Way To Go. My bet is that a lot of those practitioners knew they were trampling on that silly notion of “first, do no harm,” link to en.wikipedia.org, in pursuit of their holy Fee.

    And all these Really Smart People, having mastered the lexicon of “Realism” and/or Neoconism or whatever the current cant is, seeing as they do that they themselves are pretty much immune to any negative consequences for doing some really serious but heavily fee-generating harm, are happy to administer fatal doses of toxic and explosive and socially destructive dogma and brutality.

    Medical science and practice has moved on to much less “unenlightened” approaches, and its alchemists have actually found cures for some of mankind’s pains and plagues (while setting “industry” up for profit-making stuff like stuffing cows with antibiotics and all that is following that short-term-profit-maximizing idiocy.) Pedantic and subtle and anonymously persistent people, with their fixed set of Great Game/Cold Warrior tests and tools that support and reinforce the idiocy of stuff like the Global Interoperable Rules-Everything Network-centric Battlespace thingie, and support the recent machinations prescribing a “measured” dose of Tomahawk to “retaliate” for this mean guy killing some people over there, trumped, apparently, by small bits of common decency and sense, sure seem to not have a freakin’ clue or tiny incentive to aim for what it would take to actually keep the body of humanity stable and healthy, let alone the health of its global house, its oikos.

    Because it fits with the narrow worldview they have worked so hard to master and which enables the worst to do the worst then can. Think Netanyahoo and Gadaffyduck and Jonas Savimbi and the rest. Because they can get away with it, and force us to pay them to “treat” the rest of us thusly, even if it’s killing us and our loved ones.

    One wonders if we will get smart enough to refuse the doses they want to stuff us up with before they kill us off.

  11. The lie told by Republicans is, “The majority of Americans do not want affordable health care.” The majority of Americans do want access to affordable health care. The privileged class want to ration and over charge for health care so they can exploit the rest of us to enlarge their fortunes. We want our country back and the Republicans are standing in the way of our getting it back. If votes can’t do it consider other means…

  12. Ask anyone from Iran about the president of Iran, they will laugh at your nice article here. Maybe when you are able to change the title to include the Ayatollah you’ll gain some credibility. Don’t quit your day job for the writing gig yet, pal.

    • Juan Cole is a published author. I can think of three of his books off the top of my head. Also, he has written some fascinating scholarly articles on religion. Don’t quit your day job for this trolling gig.

    • You know someone from Iran? Are they harking back for the rhetoric and action of Ahmedinejad? Exactly how will Iran make economic progress except by engaging Obama and Europe and throw off the economic terrorism the USA has pursued by the owners of its foreign policy?

    • boy was that an understatement. It got on Reddit’s front page! Plus it went viral elsewhere. It is by now among the most read columns I’ve written. As for thick skin, this stuff is like playing video games for me. (Yes, I have an X-Box).

  13. Paul Krugman and others think that the principal driver behind the ferocious Republican opposition to the ACA (Obamacare) is not that big business doesn’t want it, but that it will work very well, and that it’s success will be politically extremely costly to the political party so identified with opposition to it.

  14. Nobody put it better than Matt Taibbi when he wrote that Congress isn’t there to protect the people from special interests. Congress is there to protect special interest from the people.

  15. One teensy quibble: it’s Pope Francis, not Francis I.

    He’ll become Francis I when there’s a Francis II, until then, it’s just plain Francis.

    We cool?

  16. “I lived to See the Day when the Pope and the President of Iran are more doctrinally Flexible than the GOP”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Indeed; the Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times, has become all too real. Our “leaders” as petulant children, are most disturbing.

  17. I have often wondered if slavery would be abolished if today’s Congress voted on it. I am not at all sure of the answer, which makes me very unhappy.

  18. I see that someone up above beat me to pointing out that this could all be a sneaky bait-and-switch kabuki dance between Obama and the Republicans where the Republicans will drop “defund Obamacare” at the last minute in return for Obama supporting “degrade and attrit Social Security” the way he has tried to ever since getting elected.
    If Obama and the Republicans pull off this Grand Deceit, enough Democratic Senators will support the Republican Senators in passing “destroy Social Security” to get it passed. Obama will then sign it into law. Let’s all watch out for that.

  19. I don’t like referring to the GoP’s current issues as ideological inflexibility.

    Blind, lashing spite against anything related to Obama isn’t exactly an ideology.

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