SICK UNTO DEATH: REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANTS

Yet another Republican presidential hopeful, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, has a staff (we are asked to believe) that without his knowledge or consent was engaged in criminal political activity, including his deputy chief of staff and a chief of staff. A criminal investigation has shown how personal laptops, private email accounts, other computer networks, etc., were utilized in an elaborate scheme to conceal illegal campaign work done on county time. Like his political comrade, Republican Governor Chris Christie, Walker denies having any knowledge of his staff’s criminal activities. (Is there any Republican presidential hopeful who is aware of what his staff is up to?) But is any of this at all credible?

Is it at all believable that campaign work can be conceived, planned, and executed on behalf of a public official by his own staff, without his knowledge or consent? If so, what does this say about Republican governors, their leadership abilities and judgment of character, that their own staff, right under their noses, acts systematically, arbitrarily, and criminally without their knowledge? Supposing this (frankly impossibility) to be true, we may then fairly ask, Would you feel safe and secure having a public official represent you whose own hand-picked staff systematically operates outside the law, without his knowledge?

Of course, that’s a rhetorical question. While the governors are wilely enough to engage in such activity without an overt connection to themselves (or so they believe), it strains one’s credulity to the breaking point to think that their tight inner circle could, or would, engage in any meaningful political or campaign activity, let alone criminal activity, without the express approval of the person on whose behalf they are acting, and without him ever catching wind of it. To believe otherwise, let’s face it, is to believe in fairies, goblins, and witches on broomsticks.

The next time these ignoramuses say ‘I had no idea what my chief of staff was up to’, let us retort: Show me the broomstick, and then I’ll believe!

“ …while the remark of one of the founders of our government, that the whole art of politics    consists in being honest, is an overstatement, it remains true that absolute honesty is what Cromwell would have called a fundamental of healthy political life.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

Clearly, among Republican presidential aspirants—Ted Cruz, Paul Rand, Chris Christie, and now Scott Walker—honesty is what we don’t have, which is why our political life is sick unto death.

Len Sive Jr.

CHRIS CHISTIE: CORRUPTION, INTIMIDATION, PAY-BACK—STAPLES OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

“Our ideal of America is a nation in which justice is done; and therefore the continued existence of injustice, of unnecessary inexcusable poverty in this most favored of nations—this knowledge erodes our ideal of America, our basic sense of who and what we are. It is, in the deepest sense of the word, demoralizing—to all of us.” Robert F. Kennedy

Republicans in Congress are, most of them, skilled not in statecraft, or the subtleties of governing a pluralistic country (Republicans on the whole care nothing about pluralism). They are skilled only in aiding the rich in becoming richer. That is their raison d’etre. They are in office for no other reason than to serve their financial puppet masters—for which loyal service they can expect to receive due compensation, and not a few perquisites distributed along the way.

Chris Christie is a perfect illustration of this pragmatic service to his real, behind the stage political “handlers”. His office received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal emergency (FEMA) funds to help those hurt by the unprecedented, gigantic storm, Sandy. But first, Christie tells a few of his would-be recipients, “they must allow the Rockefeller Group [inter alia, a real estate investment corporation] into their city to develop various properties—and then, but only then, will their city receive their much-needed, and long-awaited for, Sandy funds. Don’t allow Rockefeller in and you won’t get your funds.” (This is a paraphrase of what Christie [and his office] is reputed to have said.)

Here is intimidation at its cruelest: people who are still struggling to get their lives back on track after Hurricane Sandy have their funds withheld in—let us call it like it is—a blackmail scheme, while Christie and his henchmen obsequiously court the interests of the super-rich. But the urgent needs of the poor, the suffering, and the displaced victims of hurricane Sandy—these take a back seat to the unfeeling rich.

Or failing verbal intimidation—this never works on high-minded people like the Hoboken mayor who resisted Christie’s threats—you can always engage in “dirty tricks,” in this case political revenge, a time-honored Republican habit of subverting the rule of law, here by illegally closing lanes that feed onto the George Washington Bridge, thereby causing a monumental tie-up for the town of the N.J. mayor who refused to support Christie for governor (and with good reason we now see!) This high-minded act of political statesmanship by Christie and his staff not only

caused a traffic fiasco of gargantuan proportions, adversely affecting hundreds of thousands of people, it also put at risk the lives of sick citizens who might have needed to go to the hospital.

But isn’t this just the sort of thing the Mafia routinely does? Or what one would expect of (neo-Czar) Putin and his FSB henchmen? But, no, these are not totalitarian Russians, they’re home-grown right-wing Republicans, for whom “legality” is a decidedly relative matter: It’s legal if the Republicans themselves distort, or even trample upon, the Constitution, but illegal if a Democrat should try, out of Christian compassion, to assist the elderly, the young, the sick, the impoverished, the helpless and the hopeless. Then it’s called red herring names like “Big Government” or “Big Brother” or “socialism.” That 50% of Americans fall for this political charade is even more shocking and disturbing.

Democracy in America is emphatically not working. It’s been co-opted by the super-rich, like the Rockefeller Group, so that they can become even richer (and they do). Chris Christie shows us all very clearly that, after all is said and done, unlike in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, the Bailey Savings and Loan does indeed finally lose out to Potter, and with it goes the end of the Middle-Class. (Only in movies like It’s a Wonderful Life does America still “have” a middle class.)

So, welcome to Pottersville, the ghetto formed by rapacious, uncaring, and unchristian rich Republicans, for the poor, the sick, and the suffering—that being out of sight they might also be out of mind.

Len Sive Jr

GOD-TALK: THE DIVINE TEA PARTY

God:  How are things down below? At your insistence, I gave you nine years of great power. Are you making life better for everyone?

Ted Cruz: Yes, Lord, and we’re having a ball, too. You wouldn’t believe those Democrats,  mealy-mouthed, weak-willed nothings…No wonder our country’s in trouble. Who cares about the little guy? Does the little guy help our great country? Does he start new businesses, develop real estate, invest in new products? No, he’s  just a sponge. Let him mop floors, that’s all he’s good for. It’s the richest 1% that matter, not the bottom 85%…And Obama, that non-US citizen…. Just between us, Lord, I hate that guy.

God: Now, Ted, you surely have read where I state very clearly that you are to love your neighbor.

Cruz: Well, to be honest, Lord, I haven’t actually read it personally. No offence, but  I just have more important things to read, books by von Hayek or von Mises, for example. “ Loving your neighbor”—No offence, Lord, but I just don’t see the point.  I mean, realistically Obama’s not my neighbor. And if he or his kind ever did move into my neighborhood, I and all my friends, we’d move right out—before the value of our real estate dropped. In fact, Lord, we in the Tea Party think that  the world would be a better, saner place if everyone just called a spade a spade. If you hate a guy, be a man and tell him exactly how you feel. That, Lord, is honest and manly. And if he takes umbrage and wants a fight, by all means, just take out your AK-47 and let him know who’ boss.

God: And what about my Ten Commandments? I spent a billion years working on them, trying to get them just right.

Cruz: I think, Lord, the different time zones up here must have  confused you; You mean  you spent 5,000 years, don’t you?—Listen, Lord, you’re a nice enough fellow, but things have to change. Your old way just doesn’t work anymore. So the Tea Party has voted to shut down heaven and hell unless you defund these silly Ten Commandments—and especially that ridiculous law, to love your neighbor as yourself. You must have had a little too much ambrosia to come up with that one, sir. Look, Lord, on a practical level, I really love myself; I just don’t see how I could love another that much. It just wouldn’t work. And those other commandments—“Thou shalt not steal”—are you kidding? How do you think politics works? Enforce that one and everything grinds to a halt. Effective politics is when you steal from the poor and give to the rich. It’s a good policy, too; been around a long time; well ratified by law and custom. Corporations, banks, insurance companies, investment firms…they all love it. Of course you never ever say that. No; you sound noble: “We need to lower the deficit, lighten the tax burden on the rich, the corporations, etc.”

God: But Ted, haven’t you read where I said, “What you do unto the least of these you do unto me.”

Ryan: Let me field that one, Ted. I may have heard it read in church once, I’m not sure. Never meant much to me, though. Listen, Lord: Has anyone told you that sometimes your language sounds too antiquated? I know; you’ve been around 5,000 years. Still…Listen, for a small retainer fee, I can help you spruce up your language. Anyway–Lord, as a pretty powerful personage yourself, you must know that power is where it’s at. It’s the same thing on earth. When, for example, you’re dealing with Democrats, immigrants, Obama, you’ve got to show them who’s boss. That’s why we voted to shut-down the government. We’ll talk only if they get down on their knees and beg…You just can’t treat these Democrats as equals. That’s one of the things we have got to change. Like our heroes who ran those big slave plantations, you’ve got to let them know who’s boss—keep them in their place.

God: And what about “Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”? I spent ages working on that one.

Ryan: Now, Lord, how the hell did you ever come up with that one? That’s the dumbest one of all. You simply can’t get elected without lying about your opponent. It’s impossible. You have to wound them any way you can.  And the bigger the lie, the better. You know, Obama’s a Muslim, a socialist, not a citizen (Trump takes care of that one for us)—whatever you think will hurt your opponent the most. Now, Lord, about our shutting down of heaven and hell….

Len Sive

REPUBLICAN BRINKMANSHIP: FINANCIAL TERRORISM

The Republican Party is risking the financial health of the United States, and what recovery the country has made since the 2008 (Republican-made) economic crisis, in order to fight national health care in general and “Obamacare” in particular. So fanatical, so anti-rational, so ideological are these Republicans, that even risking the financial rating of their own country, and its further economic stability, take a back-seat to their “all government is bad government” Tea Party ideology.

Republicans are acting like financial terrorists—willing to destroy the country’s credit and economic health for the sake of their anti-government ideology (ie, government for the poor), failing to recognize that the Affordable Health Care Act is already law, having been passed by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court. So when house representatives, with support from Republican senators fail to honor law, they undermine democracy. The kind of government envisioned by Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Adams and others—for which they risked their possessions, their names, their honor, and their lives—that government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” as Lincoln wrote, is then effectively a dead letter.

Let’s review first the Republican mantra that national health care is “socialism”. If you should travel to other countries, you would see that it is simply not true. I have lived abroad, East and West, and every modern industrial nation—except the US—has (affordable) health care for all its citizens and not just for the wealthy. “Socialism” is a bogey man used by rich Republicans to frighten ill-educated masses with. “Affordable” is the key term here. A country whose citizens cannot be healthy because health care is beyond their financial means is a demonstrably weak country. And in any event, Republicans cannot win on this issue. Public opinion is not with them, so they must somehow try to emerge from this crisis without looking like the malevolent politicians they in truth are. If ever one had doubts about how patriotic these Republicans are, doubt no more. Patriotism is held hostage to ideology.

But on a deeper level, let us never forget: History judges nations on how it treats all of it citizens, especially its weakest and most vulnerable. The Republican Party is today the Supremacist party: everything for the richest 10% and little or nothing for the bottom 80%. This dogfight over Obamacare must be seen as but one act in this drama, albeit a particularly dangerous one, with our country’s economic and financial health  hanging in the balance. All rhetoric aside (“socialism” and the like), it boils down to this: Is America for all Americans or only for rich Republicans? As Americans decide on this fundamental issue, so goes the fate of America—and democracy.

Len Sive