The Republican Party: From Lincoln to Romney.

August 26, 2013


“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”
— President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864

“Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are.”
– Mitt Romney, 2012.

There is a rather neat simplicity in Republican circles that insists upon the populace, that the Republican Party of the 21st Century, is a continuation of the Republican Party of President Lincoln. In 2010, Christine O’Donnell, running for Senate seat for Delaware, was one of those running for Congress, asserting that the Republican Party that she belonged to, was the Party of Lincoln. It is as if they believe that had Abraham Lincoln, or Teddy Roosevelt (another name often used to link the GOP to its roots) existed today, they would find a similar Republican Party – in tone, and in policy – to the GOP they left behind, when in fact the history of the Republican Party renders it a completely separate entity from its late 19th early 20th Century counterpart.

It isn’t difficult to draw parallels between Texan Governor Rick Perry’s subtle call for secession, on the re-election of President Obama, shouting States Rights, to the same calls upon the election of President Lincoln in 1860 and the same States demanding secession, shouting States Rights (the Civil War was never about States Rights, as I point out in a previous article here).

Indeed, had Lincoln lived today, I would go as far as to say that the Republican Right might categorise him as a liberal who should be opposed at every opportunity. It would be the Republicans calling for secession. The GOP in 2013 is simply anti-government intervention for the most vulnerable. It is a fundamentalist position. It does not take into account context, or indeed, facts.

In contrast, President Lincoln was not anti-government intervention. Far from it, he pressed for state sponsored subsidies for railway building, canal building, road building amongst other Federally financed projects – a stimulus, as you may call it today. A vast swarm of States at the time – including Maine, Iowa, Minnesota, Maryland, Kentucky – had State constitutional bans on Federal subsidies for infrastructure. In fact, it was such a contentious issue splitting the progressive, Government-spending attitude of Lincoln’s northern Republicans with the Democrats in the South, that the Confederate Constitutional Drafters included the particularly conservative, anti-Federal clause:

“… neither this, nor any other clause in the Constitution shall ever be construed to delegate the power to Congress to appropriate money for any internal improvements intended to facilitate commerce”

– The Confederacy – with logic similar to today’s Republicans – considered internal improvements to be a matter for the individual states, not the Federal government. Lincoln disagreed. To the South, Lincoln was the very epitome of the power of central Federal government. Lincoln believed the Federal government to be a force for good.

In 1862, the Lincoln Administration signed into law, the Revenue Act. What this did, was to create the Commissioner of Internal Revenue; the IRS. Furthermore, the law created the USA’s first ever progressive income tax. If your annual income was less than $600, you paid nothing. If your income was greater than $10,000, you paid 5% (this was increased to 10% in the Revenue Act of 1864). It was designed to aid those who couldn’t afford to pay, whilst placing an increasing burden on those who could most afford to. For its time, this was an incredibly progressive step. We can contrast this today to Republicans in – for example – Wisconsin, who are currently pushing for a State flat tax, that independent analysis suggests is simply a massive tax cut for the wealthiest, whilst increasing the burden on the most vulnerable. The exact opposite of the Lincoln plan.

But it isn’t only Lincoln. Republicans will also mention their party’s ties to Teddy Roosevelt. “We’re the Party of Lincoln & Roosevelt!” is the cry from the Republican faithful. And yet, it is difficult to find any similarities between the Republican Party of 1901 – 1909, and the Republican Party in 2013. For example, in the 2012 campaign, Romney set himself up as the anti-union candidate. For Romney, unions were the problem. They hampered corporate power (the corporate power Lincoln – and in fact, Jefferson – were fearful of). For Romney, any legislation that empowered working people over the managerial classes, was only going to create bigger economic problems. This is no surprise given that when Romney was in control of Bain Capital, his company took over Marion, Ind, laid off one fifth of its workers, sharply cut health benefits, cut wages, and abolished its retirement plan. Romney got rich, by hammering working people into the ground, destroying unions, and fostering poverty.

By contrast Teddy Roosevelt supported United Mine Workers, when they went on strike in 1902 for higher wages and better conditions. The Republican President’s support for unions led UMW to a pay increase, for less hours. This, a year after Roosevelt delivered a speech to Congress demanding the curbing of power of large corporations, earning him the title of ‘Trust Buster’. He then signed into law the Meat Inspection Act making it illegal for a label to be misleading, and banned harmful chemicals. With his trust busting, and his dedication to food safety, Monsanto’s abuses certainly wouldn’t have lasted very long. To today’s Republicans, Teddy Roosevelt is far more to the left, than President Obama.

Moreover, Theodore Roosevelt wished to regain the Presidency in 1912, from his Republican ally William Taft, whom he now distrusted and considered anti-progressive. Failing to do so, Roosevelt then went about setting up the very short lived Progressive Party. The Progressive Party proposed the following; strict regulations on campaign contributions (Senate Minority Leader in 2013, Mitch McConnell has very good reason to oppose campaign finance reform; his loyalties lie entirely with big business); A universal healthcare system, proposed 40 years before the British NHS, and still not realised to this day whilst Republicans spend an incredible amount of money on constant repeal-Obamacare votes in the House; Minimum wage for women; social security to provide for the elderly, disabled and unemployed (all threatened by 21st Century Republicans); an inheritance tax (repealed in Indiana by State Republicans in 2012).
Naturally the Progressive Party died horribly, after funding ran dry given that Corporate interests didn’t particularly favour a progressive position. Nevertheless, in 1912, hundreds of progressive Republicans ran for office.

Let us also not forget that whilst the Republican Party today appears to be having a problem appealing to minorities, and giving the impression that it is willing to suppress voting rights of African Americans the moment the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act; the defining feature of the Ulysses Grant Republican administration, was one of extending voting rights, and progressing civil rights for African Americans. Grant was the first President to sign a Civil Rights Act, in direct conflict with rising anti-civil rights groups in the South.

On the issue of race, it appears to me that the period following the 1876 election, which saw the removal of Federal Troops from the South, allowing Democrats to again mistreat African Americans, lead to Southern Republicans trying to win over those white folk who were naturally drawn to the Democrats, thus we see Republicans actively abandoning the cause of civil rights.

The Democrats had a similar struggle to become the more progressive party we see today. As late as the 1950s we see a Democratic Party that included Hubert Humphrey who strongly advocated a shift in Democrat policy, by including the idea to end racial segregation, at the 1948 Party Platform at the DNC. This moment marks a huge shift for the Democrats. Humphrey took to the DNC floor and demanded that on racial segregation, the Democrats abandon their old position, and:

“…walk into the sunshine of human rights.”

– As Humphrey was making his way through the Democratic ranks, forging new ideas for the Party, another Democrat – Strom Thurmond – was actively fighting the change. Thurmond supported Jim Crow, and segregation. This split eventually lead to Thurmond joining the Republicans, and supporting Nixon’s vastly racist southern strategy. It is incredible to note than in less than a century, the Republican Party went from passing the 13th, 14th & 15th Amendments, reconstruction, and pioneering the way to bring African Americans into politics….. to supporting, and violently enforcing racial segregation. The Eisenhower Republicans of the 1950s, were completely different to the Lincoln Republicans of the 1850s.

By the 1960 election, we see a clear shift of powerful rhetoric, defining what the Democrats now stood for. Less than 100 years after the end of the Civil War, the Democrats were now firmly the party of the progressives, the heirs to Lincoln and Roosevelt. We see this, with Kennedy’s nomination acceptance speech in New York:

“If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.” ”

– This could easily be repeated in 2013, and the same lines of division between liberal and conservative, Democratic and Republican, would apply.

The Republicans we see today started to crop up around the time of the Roosevelt New Deal era, having been stirring for around the previous 60+ years since the end of Reconstruction. According to Nancy Weiss in “Farewell to the Party of Lincoln: Black Politics in the Age of FDR” writes:

“Roosevelt and the New Deal changed the voting habits of black Americans in ways that have lasted to our own time.”

– For a number of years before the New Deal, both Parties were promising some sort of help for the most vulnerable, via the enlarging of Federal Government. The northern Democrats of the Roosevelt era knew fully that the Great Depression gave them the opportunity to reconstitute the entire Democratic Platform. It is only during the New Deal era that the Republicans start becoming the Party of small government, and pressing ahead with much more racially divisive ideas. It is around this time too, that the Republicans start to become involved far more with the Christian Right. President Lincoln did not advertise his religious beliefs, and often questioned Christian dogma. Not as much as Jefferson, but certainly enough to render him the devil in the eyes of a fundamentalist like Rick Santorum.

The name “The Republican Party” is empty & meaningless for the sake of recalling its history. It is the attitudes – conservative or progressive – inclinations, beliefs and policies that form a Party, not its name. The big business, anti-progressive, anti-welfare, rabid obsession with small government fundamentalist vision of the Republican Party in 2013, cannot be identified in any way with the early Republican Administrations, and certainly not with that of Theodore Roosevelt. The Democrats & Republicans of the 19th Century are in no way comparable to their 21st Century counterparts. It is important to point our the complete 180 degree turn the Republicans & Democrats have gone through over the past 150+ years, when confronted with those who claim that today’s GOP is the “Party of Lincoln!“.

21st Century progressivism is the natural heir to the 19th and 20th Century progressivism of Lincoln and Roosevelt.

Why the Republican Party lost

November 10, 2012

Ohio. An important State for any Presidential candidate to win. No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. And so you’d expect Republicans to be a bit less malicious in their campaigning tactics when trying to win over potential key voters. And yet, in 2010 Medina County Republicans put out this leaflet. You should probably cast your eyes down to the most telling part, and the epitome of the problem with the Republican Party today:

– Not only is the problem in the horrendous sexism, but it’s also in that…… it isn’t surprising.

Republicans are reeling, trying to figure out what went wrong. From calls that the Romney campaign was not right winged enough; to calls that the Romney campaign was not moderate enough; to calls that Obama rigged the election. To Karl Rove not convinced that Obama actually won the election; To calls that Republicans need to appeal to minorities more. All of which do not address the actual problem; the Republican Party has an ideology problem, both economically and socially. Appealing to ‘minorities’ means nothing unless the underlying bigotry and ignorance is addressed. Cloaking inherent racism, sexism and homophobia behind more creative language hides nothing. The country is more liberal than they think. It is not a suspicious, homophobic, sexist country of multimillionaires.

In the UK the Conservative Party is quite generally known as the Nasty Party. They alienate, they belittle, and they discriminate. They open their mouths to say pretty vicious stuff, and nothing else. The Republicans are no different.

The fact that Republicans manage to attract any female voters strikes me as incredible. Republican news anchor Ann Coulter, reflecting a general Republican anti-women stance once said:

“If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. ”

– Even female Republicans, are anti-women. This is a paradox of right winged America. They seem to insist as much as possible that they are true Patriots. Real Americans. Defenders of the Constitution. And yet, they apparently call for secession whenever a democratic decision does not go their way, they call for the right to vote for women to be revoked, and then they completely ignore the distinct separation between Church and State as laid out by the Founders and their enlightenment thinking, with things like this…..

“We’re bound together by common values. That family is the most important institution in society. That almighty God is the source of all we have.”

This is Marco Rubio. Apparently, he is the Republican answer to appealing to alienated minorities. Here, he is promoting the myth that America was founded a Christian nation, and subtly hinting that non-belief, cannot be considered an American value. Thus, in two quotes, we have seen both women and atheists alienated. So that’s 155.6 million women, and 15% of Americans who claim no religion. That’s a lot of people to alienate. Rubio is following the conservative trend of telling people who does and doesn’t qualify as ‘American’. This in itself, is divisive. It works against the Republicans, because not only are their policies seen as having racist, sexist undertones; the rhetoric confirms it. They are shooting themselves. Rubio is also reflecting the Biblical free will myth. In the Bible this myth is simple; you are free to believe in the Christian God, but if you choose not to, you will be punished for eternity. Suddenly there is force, which means there is no freedom in choice. Republicans are similar. You are FREE in America to believe whatever you wish. But if you don’t believe what Republicans tell you, then you’re not American.
We’re not finished with Coulter yet. She of course, can alienate more people pretty quickly. On the subject of 9/11, Coulter needlessly and baseless-ly said:

If Chicago had been hit, I assure you New Yorkers would not have cared. What was stunning when New York was hit was how the rest of America rushed to New York’s defense. New Yorkers would have been like, “It’s tough for them; now let’s go back to our Calvin Klein fashion shows.”

– So now, that’s women, Atheists and the entire State of New York.
It may be unfair to pick on Coulter. She is not representative of the Republican Party. She describes herself as conservative, which of course the Republicans are also. But she isn’t a Republican congress person or Presidential candidate. She says ridiculous shit, because she has books to sell. She perpetuates stupidity, for financial gain. It isn’t Patriotism it is right winged anti-democratic solypsism, with its very very narrow understanding of what is decent and correct. The abusive levels these people will stoop for commercial purposes is possibly more telling that their disturbingly outdated views themselves.
Another commercial bigot, is Rush Limbaugh. On the subject of women, Limbaugh said:

“So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch

– Wealthy white conservative attitudes to women are simply a reactive response from a modern liberal inclusive culture that they very much dislike, because it threatens their unjustifiably privileged position in life.

We can however find just as much disturbing sentiment from Republicans in congress and Presidential candidates pretty easily, along with groups that support and fight for them. They are very dogmatic. Like a religion that never updates with the times. The Republicans, are a religious ideology unto themselves.

The Republican controlled State Senate of North Carolina voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Their main support group, “North Carolina Values Coalition”, whose benevolent overlord Tami Fitzgerald said this:

“the people of North Carolina would rise up and vote to keep the opposition from redefining traditional marriage.”

As i’ve noted before, using the term ‘traditional marriage’ comes with an intense amount of problems. Hopefully (and I will email and ask them this) they are going to be consistent and support Biblical marriage in its entirety. As I noted in a previous entry:#

Republicans must be against marriage, if the woman isn’t a virgin. As advocated in Deuteronomy 22:13-21.
Republicans must support the right for a man to have multiple concubines as justified in 2 Sam 5:13 and
2 Chron 11:21.
Republicans must support the right for a man to marry his kidnapped captive (though, only after shaving her head, obviously) as permitted in Deut. 21:11-13.
Republicans must support the right for a man to trade his wife, as property. As advocated in RUTH 4:5-10.
Republicans must support the right for a man to marry his rape victim, if he pays for her: Deut. 22:28.
Let’s be consistent Republicans!

– I look forward to seeing the bigoted bullshit of Tami Fitzgerald support the right for a man to trade his wife as property. Though, judging by Republican attitudes to women, it wouldn’t actually surprise me.
Her organisation went on to just invent ‘facts’:

“….the overwhelming body of social science evidence establishes that children do best when raised by their married mother and father.”

– This simply isn’t true. Along with the idea that sexuality is a choice, or can be cured this is an assertion completely discredited by the American Psychological Association. Here:

Do children of lesbian and gay parents have more problems with sexual identity than do children of heterosexual parents?For instance, do these children develop problems in gender identity and/or in gender role behavior? The answer from research is clear: sexual and gender identities (including gender identity, gender-role behavior, and sexual orientation) develop in much the same way among children of lesbian mothers as they do among children of heterosexual parents. Few studies are available regarding children of gay fathers.

Do children raised by lesbian or gay parents have problems in personal development in areas other than sexual identity?For example, are the children of lesbian or gay parents more vulnerable to mental breakdown, do they have more behavior problems, or are they less psychologically healthy than other children? Again, studies of personality, self-concept, and behavior problems show few differences between children of lesbian mothers and children of heterosexual parents. Few studies are available regarding children of gay fathers.

Are children of lesbian and gay parents likely to have problems with social relationships?For example, will they be teased or otherwise mistreated by their peers? Once more, evidence indicates that children of lesbian and gay parents have normal social relationships with their peers and adults. The picture that emerges from this research shows that children of gay and lesbian parents enjoy a social life that is typical of their age group in terms of involvement with peers, parents, family members, and friends.

Are these children more likely to be sexually abused by a parent or by a parent’s friends or acquaintances?There is no scientific support for fears about children of lesbian or gay parents being sexually abused by their parents or their parents’ gay, lesbian, or bisexual friends or acquaintances.

– So, what we are saying is that Tami Fitzgerald is simply homophobic. Her baseless bullshit is nothing but prejudice dressed up as reason. To ban two loving people from marriage, on the grounds of nothing but a book of fairy tales and private prejudice, is disgusting.
Similarly, Paul Ryan said that Mitt Romney would be a great “defender of marriage”. Against what? We all know he means against gay marriage. Which suggests he means that a gay couple willing to get marriage, let’s say, these two sweet old ladies, Cathy Glass and Carmeh Lawler….

….. are trying to ‘attack’ …. ‘traditional’ marriage. The language is important here. ‘Attack’. It suggests there is a purpose behind the desire of Cathy and Carmeh to get marriage… who have been together for 30 years….. other than just for love. Again, the prejudice is disgusting. The Republicans are on the wrong side of history, again. The opposition to gay equality will be viewed in much the same way as the opposition to civil rights 50 years ago is now viewed. Regressive, bigoted, hate filled and wrong.

So far….

  • Women.
  • The entire State of New York.
  • Atheists.
  • Gay people.
  • Children of gay parents.
    Republicans are really racking up the list.

    Of course we know Republicans main claim this election was to be on the side of the middle class. The mask slowly begins to slide when you note the way that Republicans have dealt with labor unions in the GOPs quest to turn Capitalism back to the industrial revolution. Firstly, we should take a look at the advancements made by labor unions and we should also note that these advancements were certainly not made with the support of people like Mitt Romney…
    End of child labour; healthcare insurance; collective bargaining for wages; minimum wage; paid over time; 8 hour work day; outlawing of job discrimination based on race, colour, sex, or national origin; workers comp benefits for people injured at work. All of these gains would be entirely erased tomorrow, if Romney’s entitlement society for the wealthy were to prevail. They certainly had to be fought for.

    So how to Republicans treat unions? The Republicans in 2011 voted through a number of bills with the express intention of weakening unions. Given that their main donors are massive corporate entities famed for shipping jobs abroad and keeping wages as low as physically possible, it isn’t a surprise. But these were not all bills designed to attack union leaders, or excessive union power (of which, there isn’t any). These were bills strictly designed to make it more difficult for workers to join unions in the first place. And it is all hidden behind the idea that only big business has a workers best interests at heart. Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan said that unions:

    “….taken actions that directly oppose American job providers.”

    – The problem is, those ‘job providers’ main concern is profit, not person. Unions provide the person, not profit counterbalance. They are essential. To undermine unions, to underfund unions, to make it difficult for people to join unions – the very backbone of the middle class – is, well, a Corporate/Romney wet dream.
    If we were to travel back to the 1950s labor unions were a positive part of everyday life. Corporations and unions acted together in a balanced way, as to be beneficial to everyone. Around the 1970s, that changed, and corporate America took on unions viciously. Mainly Republicans. And mainly for two reasons; large Corporate backing demanded it, and it weakened the Democrat Party. Interestingly, the media helped to distort or ignore the viewpoint of organised labor…. On the subject of the Delphi buyout, Progressive Review published how many paragraphs in the Washington Post, Detroit News and NY Times you had to read before reading the viewpoint of a union;
    NY Times: 26 paragraphs.
    Detroit Times: 22 paragraphs.
    Washington Post: 11 paragraphs.
    There has been a concerted effort to undermine unions for the past thirty years, and a Republican Party will not stop until unions have virtually no power. For some reason, even after the biggest economic crises bought on by deregulated greed of the ‘job creators’… the Republican Party is insistent that these people are our saviours.

    Interestingly, nations with the highest Union membership; Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Belgium….. all came out of the economic crises, pretty strong. And Denmark, Finland and Norway all came top of the UNs ‘World Happiness Report’, which takes into account job security, quality of work and life, and opportunities. Also, they are the most Atheist countries in the World, and have universal healthcare. I’m afraid the US comes in at 11th place. Perhaps looking to that EVIL SOCIALIST EUROPE! for inspiration isn’t all that bad an idea afterall.

    Federal Judge James Leon Holmes, nominated by the Bush administration, once said of rape:

    “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

    – That’s right. He made a joke. He of course is only one of many Republicans who don’t particularly like rape victims. And it isn’t a new phenomena of stupidity either. In 1995 Republican Rep. Henry Aldridge told the House Appropriations committee:

    “The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”

    – There’s that appeal to ‘facts’ again. Republican facts. Not regular ACTUAL facts. And what was the context? That’s right, cutting funds to help poorer women get access to abortion. A disgusting manipulation of facts, to achieve a disgusting end. In fact, all medical institutions entirely refute the extraordinary claim Aldridge made here.
    We all know that this line of reasoning is still alive, after over fifteen years since Aldridge made his ridiculous statement. Todd Akin said:

    If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something.

    – I’m not sure what qualifies as ‘legitimate rape’, other than exposing Akin’s own prejudicial lack of trust in women. And also, AGAIN with the inventing ‘facts’. Really, stop that!
    The Republican position on ‘life’ seems to be pretty clear.

    Onto race.
    Usually I am not surprised by Republican racist quotes. But I must confess, this one shocked me. Arkansas State Rep. Jon Hubbard wrote a book in which he refers to slavery as:

    A blessing in disguise.

    He goes on to say that it is a blessing, because African Americans were:

    “Rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.”

    Rewarded! He actually said that. Rewarded. By their superiors.
    And so it goes on….
    Kansas State Senate Speaker Mike O’Neal sent an email to House Republicans which referred to Michelle Obama as “Mrs YoMamma”. This is the same Mike O’Neal who sent an email to friends regarding the President, quoting a Biblical passage which states:

    7 When he is judged, let him come forth guilty,
    And let his prayer become sin.
    8 Let his days be few;
    Let another take his office.
    9 Let his children be fatherless
    And his wife a widow.
    10 Let his children wander about and beg;
    And let them seek sustenance [a]far from their ruined homes.

    He isn’t the only slightly insane racist Republican. Marily Davenport, an elected member of the Orange County Republican Party and central committee sent an email with the title “No birth certificate… now you know why!” with this picture attached:

    – As well as this blatant racism, there is an underlying and subtle institutional sentimental racism behind certain Republican shows of disrespect from the moment Obama was elected. From heckling him in Congress, to refusing to meet at the White House for budget negotiations, to storming out of negotiations, to John Boehner being the first Speaker in history to deny the President’s request on a specific date to address a joint session of Congress. There is a mass of disrespect, as if the President simply isn’t worthy of their respect.

    During the 1970s, the Nixon Administration employed the Southern Strategy in order to win over white voters who traditonally voted Democrat in the past, by appealing to Southern racism. The Nixon strategist who came up with the Souther Strategy, Kevin Phillips, in 1970 said this:

    From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that…but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

    – This has been the position ever since.
    The Senator for South Carolina Lindsey Graham in 2012 echoed the Southern Strategy of the Nixon years with this little gem of racist wisdom:

    “The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

    Though it is now masked more creatively; economic opposition to affirmative action. Or Bill O’Reilly’s underhanded racist and sexist remark that:

    “The white establishment is now the minority, and the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?”

    …. the stoking of the racist flames for electoral purposes is still a strong tactic of the Republican Party. O’Reilly went on to say that 20 years ago a candidate like Romney would have beaten Obama. And it’s true. We were still getting used to the idea of Neo-liberalism. Everyone loved it. It was going to trickle wealth down. Everyone was going to benefit. Communities would be lifted out of poverty…blah blah.. utter bullshit. We now know what that economic plan actually achieved; the wealthy like Romney got wealthier, exported jobs oversees, put most of their money into off-shore accounts to avoid actually having to help sustain a social safety net and ladder for others to climb, and then investing in destructive stock market deals that eventually collapsed and plummeted America into a deep recession. The only people who actually believe they are entitled to government handouts, are the very wealthy who for some odd reason have it into their minds that they made their wealth themselves, did not require a stable infrastructure of roads, policing, fire protection, schooling, health protection etc as a framework for wealth to be amassed, and so now having taken everything the well funded system offered them, insist they should not have to pay back into it to sustain it for the next generation. This is the entitlement society.

    And do we really believe that Goldman Sachs, Adelson Drug Clinic, Bain Capital, Crow Holdings, Las Vegas Sands and other top corporate Republican Party donors didn’t want ‘stuff’ had Romney been elected? Did they simply donate out of the goodness of their heart? Las Vegas Sands spent $20,512,550. Pretty sure they could have ‘created’ thousands of jobs with those wasted funds.

    We know that the by-product of tax cuts for the wealthy, especially in the south, is that African Americans get hit the hardest. From the 1960s to today, blatant racism through political process is deplored. So there are more abstract ways to achieve essentially the same racist policies based on white privilege. There is the subtle hint by people like O’Reilly that minorities like African Americans are the problem, due to Welfare. And so cutting entitlements and safety nets certainly has a racial element. We forget that the very reason welfare payments have risen, is because poorer African American communities were targeted for sub-prime mortgages that eventually pushed millions of people out of work, and unable to find work. This has nothing to do with a ‘culture of dependency’ it is simply a safety net for when the very Social-Darwinist system that people like Romney advocate so vehemently, fails miserably, but does not affect those who amassed fortunes when times were good.

    As I noted in a previous article on race in America today:

    Public Policy Polling of Raleigh North Carolina, found that 46% of Republican voters in Mississippi think interracial marriage should be illegal. 14% said they weren’t sure. I cannot comprehend that number. It does indeed show that race is an issue, and specifically with Republican voters.

    – Whilst it is more subtle racism, the Republicans still give of the atmosphere of racism.

    And of course, it is impossible not to mention Mitt Romney’s description of half the American electorate being those who want to live of the Government.

    So, that’s

  • Women.
  • The entire State of New York.
  • Atheists.
  • Gay people.
  • Children of gay parents.
  • Anyone in a Union.
  • Anyone who has had an abortion.
  • Anyone who isn’t white.
  • Anyone who isn’t rich.

    And then there is of course… appealing to irrational fear. Evolution will end my religious freedom ARGH!!! Gay people will end my religious freedom also ARGH!!!! Universal healthcare will kill my nan ARGH!!!! Putting top rate of tax back to what it was before Bush IS COMMUNISM ARGH!!! They are taking away my freedom!! ARGH!!! And you ask “How are they taking away your freedom” to vacant expressions from empty heads who simply repeat what Fox News has told them. Thinking people do not like being associated with a party of irrational fear.

    The most disturbing thing about the Republican Party is their outward claim to be the party for freedom, liberty and individual rights, yet their complete abhorrence of anyone who isn’t like them. They are therefore willing to restrict the most fundamental rights; love, marriage, control of ones own body, as well as opportunity. To achieve this, there are three points of attack:
    1. Subtly claim that the privilege currently given out to white, rich, heterosexual, christian males may be under threat. Offer no evidence for this. For example, there is no reason for anyone to believe that allowing Cathy and Carmeh to marry would somehow destroy Bill O’Reilly’s marriage.
    2. Link it to “Being American”. Again, pose the anti-thesis of this line of reasoning, as ‘anti-American’. As if your life, or your freedoms are under threat.
    3. Read selected Biblical passages. Ignore all context of passage, ignore surrounding passages, ignore all passages that you do not like.
    4. Know that your audience is probably too busy to look up the evidence for what you’re saying, so just say every so often “the research is clear!” and apply it to your argument. Whether it’s clear or not.
    They are willing to invent ‘facts’ and distort scientific research for their own horrid little bigoted agenda. It isn’t that they don’t know how to talk to minorities; it is simply that those minorities have long been defined as the enemies of America, by a very hostile Republican Party.

    To appeal to a wider audience, they can’t just change Republican Party rhetoric to be a bit less vicious. They must change their fundamental principles. The idea of what an “American” is, they must no longer be so arrogant as to claim a monopoly on. They cannot keep up attacks on unionised labor. They must not speak of women as if they are 2nd to men. They must not allow Christian fundamentalism to take over the party. And most of all, they must not act and speak like they are the landlords of America, simply allowing African Americans and Latinos to live in their US. They must, in short, completely change. I am going to say this will take far longer than four years.

  • Election Day 2012

    November 6, 2012

    It is telling, just how desperate Republicans have become at this time, when ex Republican presidential candidate, endorser of Santorum, and ex-Reagan secretary for Planning and Budget in the Department of Education posts an article on his facebook wall accusing Obama of being a Marxist simply for using the term ‘Forward’:

    The intense lack of focus on issues, on offering any sort of solutions is telling. Bauer offers nothing. No new ideas, no ingenuity. Simple, and ridiculous weak attacks on wording.
    Bauer is a Christian. Deeply Christian. He believes secularism is destroying Christian values. In an article for ‘Campaign for Working Families’ Bauer states:

    “The removal of the only reference to God from the Democratic Party platform is telling. Under Barack Obama the Democratic Party has become more secular and more hostile to faith-based voters. On issues ranging from the sanctity of life to traditional marriage, Obama’s Democratic Party has embraced positions contrary to the values of heartland America, values rooted in our Judeo-Christian traditions and expressed in our founding documents. Values voters will respond in November.”

    Now, leaving aside the fact that America’s founding documents are a symbol of secularism and the Enlightenment… not Christian values; if we’re judging people by their wording, as Bauer did by posting that article, he must be consistent, here’s a speech from Hitler, in 1933:

    “Today they say that Christianity is in danger, that the Catholic faith is threatened. My reply to them is: for the time being, Christians and not international atheists are now standing at Germany’s fore. I am not merely talking about Christianity; I confess that I will never ally myself with the parties which aim to destroy Christianity.”

    – Sounds a lot like every speech Bauer ever makes. If he has the nerve to suggest Obama is a Marxist because he used the term ‘forward’ in his campaign, then we must be consistent and say that Gary L Bauer is a Nazi. Probably Hitler himself. See how easy it is? This has been the Republican strategy for about four years.

    Onto the main topic of this article.
    Today is election day in the US. And whilst most of the World cannot fathom why any reasonable human being would vote for a bigoted and economically illiterate Romney Presidency; the polls are pretty even. I even heard a suggestion that New Hampshire might be the State to play kingmaker.

    I laid out in a previous article Why the Romney economic plan based on ‘job creators’ is a manipulation of fact and devoid of all reason. Today i’d quite like to lay out the accomplishments of President Obama. We know he hasn’t always been the President that expectation demanded of him back in 2008, but that’s not to say he hasn’t achieved a heck of a lot of good, and progress in the past four years despite two years of Republican (and right winged Christian) attempts to derail his agenda at every possible opportunity; usually without regard for the national interest.

    Obama’s biggest achievement must be the Healthcare Act. Now that the fear has died down… fear created and perpetuated by a Republican Party that consider anything slightly left of Mussolini to be “Socialism”, people seem to be starting to like the idea of ‘Obamacare’. Of course, it isn’t ideal. The ideal is universal healthcare. We can bicker about “Omg it’s socialism!!!” all we want. We can even bicker about if government is capable of providing healthcare, on a very fundamental basis if we want. But we must look at the facts. Here is what the World Health Organisation says about two systems. The American private insurer system (before Obamacare), and the British National Healthcare system.

    Life Expectancy M/F
    USA: 76/81
    UK: 78/82

    Distribution of causes of death among children aged <5 years (%)
    USA – Injuries: 22
    UK – Injuries: 4

    Case detection rate for all forms of tuberculosis (%):
    UK: 94
    USA: 89

    Under-five mortality rate (probability of dying by age 5 per 1000 live births):
    UK: 5
    USA 8

    Adult mortality rate (probability of dying between 15 and 60 years per 1000):
    UK: 77
    USA: 106

    Per capita total expenditure on health at average exchange rate (US$):
    UK: 3285
    USA: 7410

    General government expenditure on health as a percentage of total government expenditure:
    UK: 15.1%
    USA: 18.7%

    A quick analysis suggests that the UK pays less per capita, our government spends less on our health system than the US, and yet we have “Socialised” healthcare, we’re living longer, and our children are less likely to die at a young age. And yet, all of this is grossly overlooked in favour of ideological dogma regardless of how backward, and ultimately deadly it is. And it isn’t just the UK, look to Sweden, Norway, and any other industrialised, civil society with a universal healthcare model, and you will see similar results. A private healthcare system is not only horrendously barbaric, it doesn’t work.
    Obama has made progress in correcting that problem.
    For all their concern about the deficit, Republicans choose to ignore the FACT that the Congressional Budget Office stated that ‘Obamacare’ will reduce the deficit. Here, see for yourself: CBO Report. To repeal it, would cost around $230bn. Another CBO report states that in the next ten years, ‘Obamacare’ will cover a further 33,000,000 Americans who otherwise would have no coverage (the very idea of not being covered for healthcare, baffles and disgusts me). Here, see for yourself CBO Report. NOT ONLY THAT but ‘Obamacare’ incentivises small businesses by offering a 50% tax credit, if they insure their workers.
    Republicans adding to the deficit, whilst making life harder for average people, whilst enriching wealthy insurers, whilst ignoring small businesses? SURELY NOT!

    Former House of Reps Republican in Delaware, Mike Castle voted to kill the stimulus bill, the health reform bill, financial regulation reform etc etc etc. On the stimulus package, Mike Castle said this:

    “We cannot spend our way back to economic prosperity,”

    He hates the idea of a stimulating the economy! Doesn’t think government should stimulate the economy. So, obviously he’s going to be consistent in his condemnation, right? Well, no.
    … Castle then accepted $5,230,610 of stimulus money, stating:

    These grants, totaling more than $5 million, will help the invaluable organizations and programs which are working to help the homeless, hungry, and those facing economic hardship throughout the State.

    – Suddenly, government CAN help to eleviate poverty, and hunger, and provide help to the most vulnerable. Republicans oppose programs in order to entice their over privileged support base, and then cowardly support the program when it might win them some votes among the less wealthy in their constituencies.

    Every Romney/Republican Speech is a vomit inducing display of feigned patrotism. …. “What would I do?.. Well i’d make America great again!” It seems, if you lack any detailed plan for running the highest office on the planet, then the next best thing is to win over idiots, with sentimental nonsense.

    Economically, whilst it’s slow, the US economy is growing. If we contrast that with the austerity lead (Romney-esque) governments across the World, we see a different story. Austerity has failed everywhere. The UK has had to endure three years of it, and so far we’ve had another huge recession (the biggest since the 1950s) no growth over the entire year, and horribly stagnating wages. It fails. The opposite is true of the Obama economy. It is moving in the right direction. If you think slow Keynesian inspired growth is bad, then you’re REALLY going to hate Romney inspired recession.

    Taxes too high? Well, if you’re a Republican prone to ‘make shit up’ then yes. But, if you rely on evidence, as the Washington Post did, you will see that:

    “A USA Today analysis found last year that if we include everything — federal, state, and local taxes, including income, property, sales, and other taxes — the percentage of personal income that’s paid in taxes is still at its lowest level since 1950.”

    And since when has it become acceptable, and in fact, preferable, for a ‘business minded’ person to be a President? Businesses are run for profit. People are very much a secondary concern. Democratic accountability does not exist in a business setting. I cannot vote for who runs the gas and electricity companies. I can move to another. Yet, there are very few, and all of them offer poor service. The object is money. It is profit. People become statistics. The interest of business leaders, is to enrich themselves. They are economically illiterate, and dangerous. Their word, it seems, is taken as gospal. This couldn’t be proven any more than in the UK. In 2010, before the general election, 35 of the Nation’s top business leaders signed a petition in support of the Chancellor George Osborne’s austerity plan. They said, quite amusingly:

    There is no reason to think that the pace of consolidation envisaged in the Budget will undermine the recovery. Business is amoral. It is regulated it prevent it becoming immoral. Business minds are self interest. This, of course, is not always a terrible thing. A majority of the time, it works. But at its most fundamental, it is dangerous.

    The private sector should be more than capable of generating additional jobs to replace those lost in the public sector, and the redeployment of people to more productive activities will improve economic performance, so generating more employment opportunities.

    – Two and a half years later, the ‘pace of consolidation envisaged in the Budget’ has absolutely choked off recovery. The private sector has not generated any additional jobs. We hit another recession. And wages stagnated. This is the legacy of listening to those with a ‘business’ mind when it comes to national governance.

    The repealing of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell must rank up there with great liberal policies, alongside civil rights legislation of the 1960s (which of course, conservatives opposed). Obama also admitted, tacitly, that he is no longer opposed to gay marriage. This was a risky move, but showed courage and conviction, when faced with such hostile bigotry. Whilst in Michigan, I saw a Republican billboard with “Obama supports gay marriage, and abortion…. do you?” And I thought…. Yes. I do. Because i’m not a crazed Christian bigoted fundamentalist from the 4th Century. To prevent full rights to loving couples, based soley on a very fundamental and selective view of a Biblical passage is so thoroughly beyond the realm of reason, it should be ridiculed, and argued against, and kept as far away from public policy as possible. If we are to continue to believe that the concept of marriage is based entirely on Biblical principles, then, like with Bauer, we must be consistent:
    Republicans must be against marriage, if the woman isn’t a virgin. As advocated in Deuteronomy 22:13-21.
    Republicans must support the right for a man to have multiple concubines as justified in 2 Sam 5:13 and
    2 Chron 11:21.
    Republicans must support the right for a man to marry his kidnapped captive (though, only after shaving her head, obviously) as permitted in Deut. 21:11-13.
    Republicans must support the right for a man to trade his wife, as property. As advocated in RUTH 4:5-10.
    Republicans must support the right for a man to marry his rape victim, if he pays for her: Deut. 22:28.
    Let’s be consistent Republicans!

    Gaddafi. Bin Laden. Weakened Mubarak’s position by telling him to reform, or step down. Has not jumped into conflict with Iran, relying instead on diplomacy, but also strong with providing sanctions on Iran by signing into law a bill to punish companies aiding Iran’s petroleum sector.

    Between 2010 and 2011, Obama increased Department of Veterans Affairs budget by 26%. Conversely, Paul Ryan suggested cutting aid to Veterans who do not suffer from combat caused medical problems. Essentially, Republicans (strong national defence) are happy to use you to defend the country, and then forget about you when you get home, and paint you as a drain on the economy. Let’s not forget that those cuts to Veterans benefits would be paid for, by a massive tax cut for the wealthiest.

    Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, EPA restrictions on toxic pollution. Omnibus Public Lands Management Act expanding wilderness protection. Cancelled anti-ballistic missile systems set to be placed in Czech and Poland, saving $1.4bn. Kickstarted renewable energy research through stimulus funding on unprecedented scale. Used diplomacy to convince BP to put aside a $20 billion fund for victims of Gulf oil spill, without any power to force them to do so. Children’s Health Insurance Authorization Act provides coverage for 4 million more children by raising taxes on tobacco. And for me, one of the most overlooked and yet most vital advancements the US has to thank President Obama for, is the ending of Bush-era restrictions on stem cell research. This is perhaps the most important scientific area of research at the moment. For Republicans to deny it, is a disgrace.

    President Obama has achieved a lot in four years, despite Republicans opposing absolutely everything, and ensuring the word ‘Socialism’ is forever attached to anything Obama says or does. It is of course a basic misunderstanding of what Socialism is. The definition becomes irrelevant because the word is enough to strike irrational fear. The use of terms like ‘Socialism’ or the obsession with dethroning the President by suggesting his isn’t American, or any other empty attack point goes to prove nothing more than the fact that the Republican Party has absolutely no solution for any problem. It just wants power.

    I cannot believe a country that has come so far forward in four years, would elect to fall twenty years into the past.
    This is why I am certain President Obama should be given four more years.

    EDIT: And has now been given four more years. Excellent choice America.

    The myth of the job creators

    October 5, 2012

    This is my second time in the US. I’m currently in a house in Michigan, reading a leaflet posted through the door from the Romney campaign. The right winged rhetoric is as poignant on every line of text as it has ever been. I’m not sure why we call it right winged. Prior to the Thatcherite revolution, the right were markedly more Keynesian than anything else. One nation conservatism was far closer to what Barack Obama is today, than the conservatism of Mitt Romney. Most one nation conservatives believed the rich had a moral duty to protect the poor. Disraeli passed a plethora of social reform; the Employers and Workmen Act made it possible for employees to sue their employers if the employer broke a contract. The Factory Act expanded regulation beyond anything seen before; it prevented children under 10 being employed, it set maximum working hours for women, and it set compulsory education for children up to 10 years old. The Public Health Act set minimum requirements for house building including running water and internal drainage. Disraeli was a Conservative Prime Minister. Can you imagine Mitt Romney proposing any sort of tough regulation on the extremities of Capitalism? In the eyes of the 21st century right wing; Disraeli was a terrible socialist. In the eyes of the 21st century right wing; every President pre-Reagan, was a terrible socialist.
    The point being, Conservative governments have not always been addicted to horrendous free market anti-government dogma.

    The leaflet posted through the door makes clear several times that Romney is committed to free market fundamentalism. His is simply an extension of new right thinking. He isn’t new, he isn’t presenting a credible plan for growth. He is rehashing the same tired old Friedman-ite economic philosophy that has dominated Western thought for the past thirty years, and has failed miserably every time. It fails, because it is ideology set apart from, and applied to a nation regardless of the contemporary economic or social context. We see the failure again in the UK. Since coming to power the epitome of new right economic thinking have forced through economic austerity leading necessarily to high unemployment, stagnating wages, rising poverty rates, increased gap between rich and poor, and most tellingly of all; the biggest double dip recession since the 1950s. That is the legacy of the myth of the job creators.

    We have called it supply-side, we have called it trickle-down, now the rhetoric has moved on to labeling anyone with money as a ‘job creator’. This is a fallacious argument for several reasons…

    I recently started up my own small business. As you’d expect, business isn’t exactly booming in the current climate. The reason for this lack of business isn’t the fact that I need a tax break. I really don’t. The reason for that is the fact that by cutting social programmes that helped those on low and middle incomes, the people and families affected no longer have enough, if any disposable income to spend on little luxuries. Instead, they work to survive and nothing else. Three years ago, a family with a teenager who went to college, could rely on the Educational Maintenance Allowance given to students who stay on into higher education for their food, and their travel. I know this, because I received EMA. It paid my petrol to and from college every day, as well as my food. I also worked part time in the evenings and at weekends, for extra money to spend on luxuries…. like the kind offered by my Photography business. Luxuries keep a consumer economy running. By taking away EMA, that little bit extra is lost from the pockets of the young. Which means they spend less. Which has a knock on effect in which businesses take less money, because there is less money. And so they lay off employees. Who are now on unemployment benefits. But unemployment benefits that have been cut. So they have less money again. And so the cycle continues.The point being, my business, whilst it is staying afloat, is struggling not because I need a tax cut, but because demand has been completely wiped out.

    By giving me a tax cut, the new right is expecting me to help fill the employment gap created when it cuts ‘government’. The problem with this idea is again, related to demand. Why on earth would I employ somebody new? There is not enough demand currently for me to fill. The extra money i’d save in tax reductions would simply soon be lost, plus a little more, to the cost of employing someone, to help cope with demand that isn’t there. I am not going to ‘create jobs’ with saved tax money. Nor am I going to expand. It may give an advantage to large business, who by their very nature, don’t need a dose of corporate socialism. Employing new people, especially for small businesses, is a measure of last resort. A tax break for the lower and middle classes – the masses – will help to stimulate demand, as do effective governmental programmes aimed at elevating the burden of necessities – soaring gas and electric costs; education costs, petrol, healthcare costs (of which a universal system, is by far the most advantageous for a growing, civilised society). Taxing the wealthy, to pay for programmes that benefit the middle and lower classes, benefits everyone economically whilst building a compassionate society. It is the only possible way forward. We must not fall for the rhetoric of “all the best people will leave”. No they wont. It takes a lot to up and move country. Uprooting your children from schools, leaving your family and friends. It is a big life changing decision.

    The myth of the job creators is as evident in the US as it is in the UK. Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan once stated:

    The other thing, in the tax side is permanent tax increases on job creators doesn’t work to grow the economy. It’s actually fueling the uncertainty that is hurting job growth right now. And don’t forget the fact that most small businesses file taxes as individuals. So, when you are raising these top tax rates, you’re raising taxes on these job creators where more than half of Americans get their jobs from in this country.

    – The key to this quote is “when you’re raising these top tax rates”….. Top tax rates.
    Similarly, over at Romney/Ryan headquarters, Fox News said of the proposed Obama top rate of tax hike to 39.6%:

    ….a clear majority of all small business profits face taxation at this top marginal income tax rate.

    – It simply isn’t true.
    According to the non-partisan ‘Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ and backed up by ‘Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center’, only 1.9% of small businesses make enough profit to fall into either of the top two income tax brackets. Visually, it looks like this:

    So, let’s move my small business to the US. If suddenly, I am making $300,000 a year, by raising my rate by 4%, I will be paying about $6000 a year more. I’m not sure that would prevent me from hiring someone new, given that demand is high enough for me to be earning so much in the first place. Raising the top rate of tax, does not affect job creation. If it were the case that lower taxes on the wealthy lead necessarily to job creation, and higher taxes killed jobs, as suggested by Ryan and Fox, then we would today be absolutely fine for jobs. The opposite is true. Here is the evidence:

    – Note how low the top rate of tax will STILL be, after the President’s proposed tax rise in 2013. Note also, that between 1993, and 2000, the top rate of tax was …. 39.6%… exactly as the President has proposed for 2013. The period between 1993 and 2000 was the largest period of US growth in history. Note also just how high the top rate was under Reagan. Prior to Reagan, in order to be eligible for a tax cut, a company would be required to use a portion of its profits to reinvest. Reagan put a stop to that, and gave a tax break up front. The companies thus invested elsewhere (offshore) and got the tax cut in the US. Isn’t ‘freedom’ wonderful?

    The irrational phobia of ‘big government’ is a jobs killer. The Romney leaflet makes clear that government does not create wealth. This is disingenuous at best, and horribly dismissive of the millions of Americans that help drive the economy forward from the public sector. Schools create inquisitive minds and help to create an equipped workforce that both intellectually and materially drives the economy. Road building, property protection (being a policeman, is a job), fire protection and so on, all help to create an environment for which capitalism can flourish. It is true that the Government should not be the main force for economic growth. But they help, they protect, and they foster private growth. Without the government, we would belong to a Hobbesian hell hole. Libertarianism is as dangerous as Communism.

    Evidence suggests that when the top rate of tax is higher, so is growth. When it is lower, economic inequality grows, not the economy.

    Romney has pledged to reduce tax rates by 20%. It is no surprised that whilst market fundamentalists hail this as the beginning of an economic miracle, those who rely on evidence and analysis paint a different picture. According to a report by The Brookings Institution, the Romney tax plan would see taxpayers who earn over $1,000,000 given an extra 8.3% after tax; an average tax cut of $175,000, whilst taxpayers earning less than $30,000 would see a tax rise of about 0.9%; an average rise of $130. They go further:

    “Offsetting the $360 billion in revenue losses necessitates a reduction of roughly 65 percent of available tax expenditures. Such a reduction by itself would be unprecedented, and would require deep reductions in many popular tax benefits ranging from the mortgage interest deduction, the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance, the deduction for charitable contributions, and benefits for low- and middle-income families and children like the EITC
    and child tax credit.”

    – The Romney/Ryan tax plan, is based on fundamentalist dogma devoid of all context, and based on an even more extreme form of failed economics. We see market fundamentalism, and austerity programmes failing all across Europe. Romney seems to be ignorant to the plight of those living under deep austerity, choosing instead to emulate it in America. It doesn’t work.

    It is more evident to me being here, that the Right-leaning US electorate ignore evidence of what actually works, and instead choose to cling to outdated dogma – government bad/private business great – borne out of the fear of the big bad tyrannical government. Government is portrayed as the enemy, out to destroy your freedom, maliciously rubbing their hands whilst the country burns. It is the reason the US has resisted universal healthcare, despite the FACT that nations with universal healthcare continuously – as I noted here – out-perform the US in all healthcare league tables. To the US, Disraeli inspired conservatism is apparently Marxism. Any form of government help, is Marxism. They have chosen to ignore what actually works, in order to fight a misplaced war on what they perceive as Marxism. It is terrifyingly inaccurate and ignorant, as well as fundamentalist.

    It is simply not true that those who enjoy profits that place them in the top rate of tax bracket, are job creators. They ride the tide of demand. The term ‘job creator’ is a deliberate attempt to create an almost moral argument for extending and perpetuating economic privileges for the very wealthy, without providing any evidence that it is beneficial for the rest of us. Manipulative language apparently negates the necessity for a reasoned argument. For free market fundamentalists; manipulative language is all they have ever had.

    Demand creates jobs. Not tax cuts for the wealthy.

    The time I almost had a fight with a ghost in a tent in the woods in Michigan.

    June 27, 2012

    To fall in love with the tip of the pinky finger on the Michigan hand
    is to look out across the lake at sunset and view complete perfection as it glows red and sinks into a seemingly unbreakable horizon. How lucky we are to be able to perceive this.
    She is my favourite of all the Americans.
    There was New York and then there was Michigan. Michigan is stunning. I could sit for hours and just watch. The sound of running water is as mellifluous as any other to me.
    I wore a cowboy hat. Well you just have to. Don’t judge me. Howdy!
    The lady in the bar in New York told me she had just moved to Manhattan and had already been arrested for trespassing. We drank beer and talked about the Constitution. She was obsessed with the Constitution. I wanted to watch the football game on TV. I missed the goal, because I was being told about her rights. It is at that point that I decided my favourite Founding Father; Thomas Jefferson was no longer my favourite. He had pushed for the First Amendment – the right to free speech – and I would have given anything to be able to put gaffer tape over her face at that very moment. Go to hell Jefferson. You ruined the match for me.
    New York is oddly captivating.
    It is one long, unending car horn. It is the reason behind the one long, unending car horn. The fragrance of Central Park breaks the mold. I loved Central Park.
    What a wonderful view it is from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. And how much I felt like I had been transported back to the height of Art Deco when walking through that triumph of 1930s architecture with the elevator doors as criss-crossed steal that a bellman pulls across. This building has existed, and been seen by Roosevelt, by Kennedy, by Truman and Nixon and Carter. Standing at the top of history.
    Manhattan is a forest of concrete.
    What a dull sentence. But the reality is that it makes you marvel of what humankind is capable of producing. We have came such a long way in such a short space of time. We are impressive. In less than 200,000 years we have gone from communicating via gestures, to developing languages, concepts borne out of ideas, systems based on survival instincts. Humanity is intensely brilliant. We do not need Gods. But we are dangerous and destructive also. Our excellence breeds our ignorance. I stood at Ground Zero. The fountains. They epitomise humanity. Their design came from the beautiful mind of an artist. A mind. A piece of matter that has become self aware. A piece of matter, like a stone. How did it become self aware? Self aware, and capable of dreaming. Dreaming is art. This is what sets us apart. How can this development in human evolution not over awe you? And then the juxtaposition. The fountains reason for being is the horrifyingly destructive nature of humanity and what it is capable of doing to its own species. It is a harrowing place. I used to
    Can somebody please tell Mitt Romney to stop telling everyone how much he doesn’t want to become like Europe. The reason the US isn’t like Europe, is because it has rejected the idea of austerity. Stick with Obama, he’s doing it right.
    I was stopped at Heathrow by a security official with a drastically over inflated sense of his own importance. This is a man who had contempt on his face for anyone who isn’t him. A man who only smiles, cries with awe, and manages to achieve a sexually aroused state whilst looking in the mirror. At no other time is it possible for him. He stopped me and said “What’s in your bag?” So I told him. He knew anyway, having been watching the xray machine. He said “Anything else you want to tell me about?” Patronising question. I had two books, my glasses, my sunglasses, and my wallet in that bag. Nothing else. So I said “no”. He then said “What do you do for a living?” I told him that was none of his business, and then asked him what he had for dinner last night. He told me not to get cocky with him. He then got a lady to go through my bag in private, wearing rubber gloves. She treated me like a criminal. She then got to the end of the bag, and said “Okay, there’s nothing concerning in here, I apologise for the inconvenience”. I didn’t want her to apologise. I wanted the man who stopped me in the first place, who for some reasons needs to know my main source of income, to come and profoundly apologise. He didn’t. He walked away. I was held back for 35 minutes for that.
    The Statue of Liberty is the face of freedom. Though it also makes me reflect on America over time. Emma Lazarus wrote the ‘New Colossus’ poem that sits at the entrance to the Statue. It reads:

    “Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    This beautiful sentiment epitomises how it must have felt for those immigrants coming on the boats into New York harbour, to have seen the Statue with the promise of a liberty that had been kept from them for so long. Whether it still applies now (considering the Arizona border dispute, it’s hard to say) is debatable. But the original sentiment is one that makes me smile.
    We do not go into BOBs in Grand Rapids. Only douches go into BOBs.
    I went into BOBs.
    I hate flight.
    Whenever the plane experiences turbulence, I presume we’re going to crash.
    I don’t understand how such a big tin can is able to stay afloat. It seems unnatural. And yet it is wonderful.
    Over the skies of the United States on my way to Michigan, I looked out of the window. It struck me; I am only one of a very few number of people in the World over its history to have seen the planet from this perspective. Great people have come before me and never experienced this. How lucky it is to be me. Our ancestors looked into the heavens and wondered. I was now in the place that drove such profoundly wonderful men and women to meditate on what the sky had to offer. Da Vinci was desperate to invent a machine that could take humanity into the sky. Newton was fascinated by it. The Aztecs would pray every night to the Gods in the hope that it would ensure that the sun would rise the next day. Galileo was imprisoned for his fascination with that which existed above the surface of the Earth. Religions were invented to try to make sense of the unknown. Plato was a part of a society that believed the Gods dwelled in the clouds. And here I am. Sat above them, in a machine that man built; essentially the culmination of great thinking up until this moment. All of those names; Newton, Galileo, Plato, Da Vinci had some influence on the reason that I was sat in the air that day. I love humanity. But humanity is a product of natural selection. This is the reason that I have a love affair with nature. Its possibilities are endless and we should be constantly amazed by this.
    We went to a vin yard to try to some local wines.
    We then went to another vin yard to try some local wines.
    We then went to another vin yard to try some local wines.
    Sometimes people take your breath away.
    Their quality is ineffable.
    But they just glow, and you can’t explain why.
    New York is full of these people.
    I could live in Michigan. Happily.
    We see a plane, and our eyes are used to it. We know how it works, we are not surprised, it is a fact of our lives. Sometimes I wonder if wonderment is the essence of life. Do we lose a certain degree of beauty, when we understand? I choose not to understand how a plane works. I don’t want to understand. This makes it far more bewildering and ultimately astonishing for me. Yet, conversely, not understanding is part of the reason that I hate flying.
    Free front row ticket to Jersey Boys on Broadway. I had no idea Frankie Valli had sang so many great songs. ‘My Eyes Adored You’…. I forgot about that one. ‘Begging’… Had no idea he’d sung that. Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a Man. The entire show was fantastic. Oh what a night.
    The woods are wonderful. She said that these places go on without humanity, that regardless of our worries and our problems, this beauty still exists. She’s right. That is what makes them beautiful. We stood on the rocks after sunset and talked about people and about nature. Everything that had happened before us, and before our mums and dads, and before our grandparents, and before nations, religions, empires, before language and before art and before….everything, had led up to the point where we could be stood on rocks after sunset talking about people and about nature.
    Apparently Americans are quite the fan of Brits reading Harry Potter whilst holding a box of Hobnobs. There is no need to explain the context here. It is EXACTLY as you just read it. So I made them say the pledge of allegiance. Fair trade I feel. If you are English, take the opportunity to have your American friends speak in a British accent. It is much fun!
    We sat in rubber tubes, with cold beers and floated down the river into Lake Michigan in the sun. I couldn’t help but note that ten years ago I was in a shitty school, expecting to spend my life on a rough council estate with multiple children and a dead end job by the time I was 20, holidaying in Skegness. I am proud of me. A lot has happened in ten years and even the bad, I am in a strange way grateful. I am grateful for Mrs English the day she told me that I would never be smart enough to read a book cover to cover, or ever be eloquent enough to write anything of any significance. I hope the phrase “Fuck you, you incompetent bitch” is eloquent enough for her. I am grateful for everything. But not so much for Reese’s. I hope they go away.
    Take chances, and be happy. Lose sometimes. Smile. Do it all again. Life.
    There were footsteps outside the tent. Then they stopped. Right outside the door. I sat up, ready for a struggle.
    There were no more footsteps retreating or pressing forward.
    they just stopped outside of the tent.
    But, no one there.
    I was preparing for a fight still.
    Apparently with a ghost.
    This was the thoughts and the events and the people that led up to the time I almost had a fight with a ghost in a tent in the woods in Michigan.

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