Posted on 06-11-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

In their continuing attempt to whip up inchoate rage (which looking at the demographics of the crowd, appears to be largely based on people upset at the decisive Obama win at the polls a year ago) at the administration’s policies, the Republican leadership joined congresswoman Michelle Bachmann at a so called spontaneous rally before the Capitol today (where the participants were bused in by a rich donor) to “scare” the Democratic leadership into abandoning the attempt at health care reform.  I suppose when your so called health care plan will provide access to only 3 million out the 40+ million uninsured and raise premiums for the unhealthy you have to stage media spectacles like this to pretend you are relevant.  If the spectacle of an elected official busing in a mob to intimidate her fellow elected officials was not offensive enough, you then have the signs displayed by the crowd.

Politicians can be cut some slack for the occasional nitwit holding a sign or saying something offensive at their rallies.  But it is time for the Republican Party to claim ownership of the spectacle their demagoguery helps create.  The signs were visible last year when Sarah Palin was delighting the Republican crowd by accusing Barack Obama of palling around with terrorists.  They were visible at the tea bag protests organized by Fox News earlier this year.  And they were very visible at the protests today, even if John Boehner feigned amnesia.  Possibly the most offensive of the signs on display was this (identified by the folks at ThinkProgress.org).

Comparing healthcare to Dachau

Way too many people have a tendency to casually toss in comparisons to the Nazis to cheap political points. But seriously? Offering universal health care is equivalent to the what the Nazis did at Dachau and the concentration camps?  I would be inclined to dismiss this again as an isolated nut job if the congresswoman organizing this mob did not have a history of stoking paranoia by suggesting that the census would be used to herd Obama opponents into internment camps and that other benign programs were examples of a reeducation campaign based at opponents,  if the Republican Party’s leading luminaries had not cheerfully used the so called “death panels” as a talking point against the health care bill, if Republican elected officials even today were not questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship and if these signs had not been all too evident at the many teabagger rallies this year (without any challenge from any Republican officials present).  Matt Yglesias is right. These are the wages of a conservative leadership and media that’s consistently tried to drum-up opposition to health care reform not by opposing things that are actually in the bill, but with demagogic opposition to completely fabricated provisions.

During the presidential campaign last year John McCain appeared genuinely shocked at the passions his acolytes helped whip up and even admonished an attendee at his rally who questioned Obama’s patriotism.  Today the entire Republican establishment has abandoned any such attempts and are attempting to surf the maelstrom their rhetoric has stoked up with no thought to the consequences to the social and political fabric of this country.  History shows the difficulty (if not the impossibility)  of doing so unscathed.

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Posted on 05-11-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut
  • The Democrats may have won NY-23 for the first time in over 100 years, but the conservatives still somehow did not lose.
  • A panicked (formerly) moderate Mark Kirk of Illinois grovels before the right wing, to think I kind of liked this guy when I met him 8 years back.
  • Maybe he should be scared, designated Republican Party buffoon Michael Steele threatens moderates with dire unspecified retribution, and in vintage Steele fashion backtracks.
  • John Cole struggles to understand the math of the Republicans and the media pundits.
  • Someone in the media finally recognizes the Republican losing streak in special elections.
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Posted on 05-11-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The Washington Independent has an interesting read on the emerging right-wing narrative to explain away the embarassing loss in NY-23, particularly amusing since they had convinced themselves that the win was in the bag.

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Posted on 04-11-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

An eventful off year election night.  Republicans take back the Virginia (expected) and New Jersey (closer) governors mansions.  Mayor Bloomberg in New York City has a tougher than expected re-election fight.  And in NY-23 the Democrat Bill Owens won a seat where the Democrats have not represented parts of the district for 159 years.

A few thoughts on this election:

– It is a lousy environment to  be an incumbent.

– Local issues and the economy appear to have dominated and the polling suggests that the voters still approved of Obama but pulled the Republican lever.  But if the economic outlook does not improve next year, all bets are off.

– The Democrats are not impressing voters, but the Republicans are in much worse shape.  Their brand is toxic and even in the Virginia blowout their candidate’s advertisement did not mention his affiliation.  If Democratic approval has declined since inauguration that for Republicans has tanked.

–  While some conservatives may try to spin the Hoffman loss as a victory for “true” Republicans, Newt Gingrich was right.  You cannot create a governing coalition by insulting moderates and independents and catering just to the true believers.  Republicans and the Fox media machine have helped whip up a lot of inchoate nihilistic rage, but they have yet to present a reality based governing platform.  For now the few remaining moderates like Charlie Christ, Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Mark Kirk will be the next targets for the right and the Democrats  will sit on the sideline and enjoy the sight of Republicans tearing each other down.

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Posted on 01-11-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The election in a couple of days will be interesting to watch.  A couple of days I ago I posted that it appeared that Dede Scozzafava was playing the good party soldier.  Now she has gone ahead and endorsed the Democrat Bill Owens.  While the attention in the election cycle in year following the Presidential election is generally focused on Virginia and New Jersey, all eyes will be on a congressional district in upstate New York.

Will Scozzafava’s supporters bother turning out?  Will they vote for her as a protest against a hard-right candidate from outside the district?  Will they fall in line like the Republican establishment and vote for Hoffman?  Will they gravitate towards Owens who may be closer to their ideological prism to begin with like the local paper which switched endorsements?  And how exactly will this quest for ideological purity help the Republican party cobble together a winning electoral coalition outside the South.  Frank Rich of the New York Times sounds off here.

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Posted on 31-10-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The official Republican candidate whose campaign is collapsing suspends her campaign for the good of the party, even though her opponents were willing to see the Democrat win instead of a so-called RINO.  It will be interesting to see how her supporters break out for the other two candidates or if they just stay at home.

UPDATE:  It appears that Scozzafava intentionally did not endorse Hoffman to prevent her disgusted moderate supporters from going to the Democrat and possibly avoiding Hoffman’s supporters from being upset if he praised her personally.  Lets see how they plays out and how much support Scozzafava actually draws at the polls next week.

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Posted on 29-10-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

An update on a previous post regarding the Republican civil war in upstate NY.  Buoyed by celebrity support Doug Hoffman is now surging and the official Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava is fading rapidly.  It is now a battle between the right wing conservative and the Democrat.  A Hoffman victory will cheer the Republican base but offers little comfort to moderates like Mark Kirk in Illinois who must not tack hard right in their primary and face a loss in the general election in their centrist states.

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Posted on 28-10-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

A by-election in an upstate New York congressional seat has set off a furious battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.  Aided by New York’s unusual political setting the race for NY-23 could hint at the continuing irrelevance of the Republican Party or suggest that appealing to the core could lead to political revival.  It started when President Obama appointed the long serving congressman of NY-23 as Secretary of the Army.  The local party nominated Dede Scozzafava to replace him on the ballot.  However, her views on taxes, abortion, and same-sex marriage infuriated the true-believers.  The Republican candidates in New York generally also run on the New York Conservative Party ballot with the votes from each party line added to the candidates total.  A different Conservative Party nominee can take away votes from the Republican.

The Conservatives responded by nominating the markedly more right wing Douglas L. Hoffman whose candidacy has eagerly been embraced by luminaries on the right wing fringe like Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Dick Armey  and Sarah Palin.  This has triggered a full scale mutiny from the base.  Even though the Republicans have held this district since the 1800s, Barack Obama carried it last fall.  Ergo its a classic swing district that could go Democratic depending on the candidate.  Pointing out that the Republican party with its current 20% identification needs to expand its reach has earned even former Speaker Newt Gingrich the derisive appellation R.I.N.O. (Republican In Name Only).  Even though the Club For Growth has dutifully trotted out a poll showing Mr. Hoffman leading, its methodology has been questioned.  At this point the likely result is an unexpected victory for Democrat Bill Owens.

While the Republicans are likely to eat their own in the near future they must ponder if they wish to remain a regional party of white Southerners.  Gingrich is right.  To win a majority you have to appeal beyond your base.  At present the Republican Party is non-existent in New England, fading in the Midwest and struggling in the Southwest after alienating the Hispanic vote.  The Democratic takeover of the House was aided by choosing conservative Democrats in conservative districts (like Heath Shuler in North Carolina) or Senate seats (like Evan Bayh in Indiana).  Ideological purity becomes viable in a state or district aligned to the cause.  Which is why Joe Lieberman who would have probably been fine in Nebraska was given the boot by exasperated Connecticut Democrats (and won largely on Republican votes).  Sticking a hard right conservative in a moderate district appears to be a recipe for long term failure.  The right wing better keep its fingers crossed that Mr. Hoffman does not come in third as most polls indicate.

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Posted on 25-10-2009
Filed Under (History, Politics & Propaganda) by Rashtrakut

The previous post on this topic delved back into ancient Indian history.  This one deals with a person still alive and of far more recent vintage.  The underlying thesis of this post is not as likely to be as uncontroversial.  The presidency of his son has done wonders for the image of George Herbert Walker Bush.  However, most of the praise has been directed to his wise decision not to invade Iraq without knowing what regime he would install to replace Saddam Hussein.

The problem with the 41st President was that unlike his predecessor and successor he struggled to connect emotionally with the American people.  Since the Great Depression the failure to capture the emotive aspect of the American presidency can make or break an American President.  With his aristocratic Yankee upbringing and ivy league background, George H. W. Bush never  managed to be a man of the people.  Coming from the now largely defunct centrist wing of the Republican party he also struggled to connect with the religious right and other hard right conservatives who increasingly constituted the true believers of the Republican Party.  The failure to connect with the public and the lukewarm relations with his base resulted in his failure to reap the benefits of the major successes in his term.

On domestic issues his term saw the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Clean Air Act, neither of which did much to endear him with his base.  However, the act that caused him the most grief was his sensible decision to raise taxes to combat the rising deficit.  This required reneging on his unfortunate pledge at the 1988 Republican Convention to not raise taxes and was the straw that broke the camel’s back with the increasingly vocal contingent of supply-siders in his party.  And then there came the recession.  This is where his inability to relate and provide assurance to the public haunted him.  When he protested loudly at the end of the presidential campaign that the recession was over, he was mocked.  The first jobs report after his presidency would show that he was right and that must have stung.  The failure to relate would result in him being the first Republican to not win re-election since Herbert Hoover (ironically Bill Clinton would be the first Democrat to be re-elected since Hoover’s successor Franklin Delano Roosevelt). Read the rest of this entry »

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I will let these two articles speak for themselves.  First is the column by two Republican Party county chairmen in South Carolina.  Next is an editorial by the Palmetto scoop.  One would think that after a year of racial gaffes by Southern Republicans a memo about using ethnic stereotypes would have been circulated by now.  Evidently not.  One hopes that the inevitable apology will be a genuine one, instead of the meaningless “If I offended someone, I am sorry” that public figures seem to think constitutes an apology.

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Posted on 14-10-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Religion) by Rashtrakut

This story and the comments by the anonymous Internet warriors is disgusting. A bunch of Republican congressmen felt it incumbent upon themselves to have the House Sergeant at Arms investigate the “infiltration” of Congress through Muslim staffers and interns. Oh the horror!!!

This post brings up the question from General Powell quoted in a previous blog. “Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?” The bigotry spewed from the right wing now reaches such proportions that Republican congressmen (albeit from the extreme fringe of an already fringe party) seek to initiate a McCarthyesque search for “infiltration” of Congress by the practitioners of a religion with over a billion practitioners world wide.

In this world view Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and Wahhabi inspired fundamentalist preachers somehow represent the religious spectrum of an entire faith in a way that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell could never do so for Christianity. While lashing out at the bloody history of radicalized Islam, they conveniently forget the violence wreaked elsewhere by other religions.

This must stop. Substitute Arab or Islam in these screeds with any other race or religion and even the supine Republican leadership that kowtows to these purveyors of hate would have to step in. The Republican Party attempted to re-brand itself with a new website this week, only to find that all its civil rights heroes dated before the Civil Rights Act or back to the Civil War and that baseball hero Jackie Robinson was an independent who turned against the Republican Party after the 1964 convention that nominated Barry Goldwater. The Republican Party lost its moral high ground on race when it embraced the Southern strategy. It is time it rediscovered its civil rights roots and displayed the moral fortitude to stand up to the rank bigotry some of its congressmen displayed today.

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