Friday, December 7, 2012

New GOP just like Old GOP: Of 'gaseous rhetoric' and other noxious smells

Watching the Tea Party die a slow death takes me back to our era of Free Love. Great times of in-your-face, bra-waving, van rockin' wild orgy sexual freedom looks and sounds a lot like Tea Party in-your-face, English-mangled sign waving, race baitin' wild flirtations with unfounded conspiracies and stupidity.

Yup, it's all fun and freedom until you've got exploding rates of STDs, this new thing called AIDS and kids running around named Rainbow, Sunshine and Unicorn (that latter I'm presuming is the boy). As a cultural movement, the Tea Party offered even more downsides with its clinging to blatant racism, Second Amendment remedies and all manner of rape lunacy. Sure the Summer of Love was tons more fun than our adventures in Tea Party astroturf but both faced a common threat -- reality.

Now the GOP, which previously welcomed the young insurgency supposedly under the watchful eye of trusted stalwart Dick Armey, is stuck with the stench of burned tea after losing an election that was only theirs to lose. And they're working hard to figure out what went wrong with the most well-funded campaign ever waged in the most low rent manner possible.

The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky notices the lack of genuine effort on the GOP's part. "Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio recently laid out a vision for the GOP’s future," he writes. "Too bad it shows Republicans have learned nothing at all from their historic trouncing on Election Day."
Despite upholstering their speeches with ample liberal rhetoric ... Rubio and Ryan both stuck hard to current-day GOP gospel. Raising tax rates isn’t an option. Relying on government isn’t the answer, and all the rest. ... But it was only about messaging. The substance of their positions, to them, is fine and dandy.

Neither they nor the people they’re talking to are ready to accept that they’ve been wrong about anything except messaging, and until they are, this is just gaseous rhetoric.
A USA Today editorial demonstrates how ineffective the GOP has been in matching action to its newfound rhetoric. The party's failure to meaningfully recalibrate after last month's election losses sent the GOP over the reality cliff when the usually sober Senate Republicans voted down the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in a move that "reflected the continuing influence of a fringe that gets frantic about anything involving the United Nations," the paper wrote.

The most stunning example of the New GOP's thinking remaining as muddled and convoluted as the Old GOP's came from the Senate floor in the name of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who effectively filibustered his own bluff when it was called out by Harry Reid. The Clown Car of Crazy was so bizarre, it gave Sen. Claire McCaskill, attempting to preside over the Republican asylum, a mild case of whiplash.

“This may be a moment in Senate history, when a senator made a proposal that, when given an opportunity for a vote on that proposal, filibustered his own proposal. I don’t think this has ever happened before,” quipped Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin in the wake of the fiasco.

The danger of nodding off after elections

Following the bruising President Barack Obama put on Willard Romney and his GOP minions, I was determined to not replicate my mistakes in 2008. Yes, he won that time, too, but I, like so far too many other supporters kicked back to take a break after our well-earned victory. That was a major mistake. Our President had no visible backing either from his liberal base or the ConservaDem wing of the Democratic caucus.

The rest of us got caught napping when CNBC financial analyst Rick Santelli set off a Tea Party explosion, exploited by big money backers, that set hard-working Americans into an anti-healthcare reform frenzy that masked an ugly, racially-tinged underbelly. The entire episode put these citizens on the wrong side of their own best interests and amplified the nature of their darkest angels.

It was against this tide that I found my voice, no longer willing to simply wave off the virulence as merely crazy talk. Turns out, my countrymen aren't as discerning as I'd assumed. In fact, they're not just ignorant, they wish to become moreso -- railing against education and, in my home state of Texas, slipping into their Republican platform a plank denouncing the teaching of critical reasoning.

The remaining thinking class woke up one day after a 2010 Tea Party rout horrified at what had happened to our country and determined to take back OUR country. To change our tone, our rhetoric, our patriotism. Someone was surrounded alright, as Glenn Beck posited back in 2009, but unfortunately it turned out to be us -- the sober, the sane, the REAL Americans.

I can't speak for anyone else but I can no longer afford my traditional post-electoral Tryptophan-esque stupor. There's work to be done and I've got to wake up and get to it. I will ask for help but if others around me don't feel the same urgency, fine. I'll do it myself. Don't want to, not my personality, but I will go it alone. I'll register voters. I'll start petitions. I'll educate my neighbors. I'll fight draconian Republican measures. Whatever means necessary.

It's time to get busy and move #Forward. I am.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The vacation that wasn't ... how healthcare popped onto my radar

I wanted to return home to Texas after a much-deserved two-week break -- refreshed, locked and loaded for the political fray, with some very specific goals in mind. I spelled out my top priorities in a post entitled "Starting the good fight." You'll note healthcare was nowhere on my list of priorities.

Life, the 1960s pop reference goes, is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. And so it went this year as my brothers and I stood around our mother's hospital bed Thanksgiving Day as she fought her way back from a semi-coma.

What a difference a day can make. Standing there watching100-plus years of fight take on death and win, I couldn't help but realize how much of a Thanksgiving we were getting in real time. Not only were we privileged to witness Life win over death, we did it in the only state in our Union that has comprehensive healthcare. We would not be a family bankrupted by medical bills nor one that had to stop care immediately after the emergency room. 

There would be rehab, in-home nursing and post-medical services. Sure, there will be the random bill from a lab or so, but thanks to my parents' lifelong labors in a place we jokingly called Taxachusetts, they earned coverage beyond that of their relatives living in other states.

It is inconceivable to me that there still exist families who are not this fortunate: either in the battle of Life over Death or in their choice of homestead. I know of people who have been bankrupted by such medical emergencies and it should not be so in this The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twelve. 

We need Obamacare and we need it enacted for every citizen who works hard, plays by the rules and only expects in return a modicum of dignity in times of illnes. I say we make sure they get that.

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