Friday, March 18, 2016

The GOP Elites Have Themselves to Blame

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal talks with fellow state governors before President Barack Obama addressed members of the National Governors Association at the White House in 2015. Also pictured is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty Image)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal talks with fellow state governors before President Barack Obama addressed members of the National Governors Association at the White House in 2015. Also pictured is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty Image)

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Moyers & Company
rom their “Dark Money” bagman Karl Rove to their philosophical guru David Brooks, the GOP elites are in a tizzy over saving the Republican Party from Donald Trump and the other intruders, extremists and crackpots who have fallen in behind Trump as if he were the Pied Piper of Hamlin. But who will save the party from the elites?

Look around at just some of the other sheer lunacy their party perpetrates when it’s not trying to shut government down, redistribute wealth upward, and prevent the president of the United States (who, the last time we looked, has the constitutional right and mandate) from filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

The Republicans in southern California just got a 7-6 majority on the region’s air quality board and have set out to reverse all of its safeguards, “reaffirming new smog rules backed by oil refineries and other major polluters,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mary Lou Bruner, a Republican crank in Texas who claimed that a young Barack Obama had worked as a black male prostitute, is on track to become a key vote on the state’s board of education, the group that, as Matt Levin at the Houston Chronicle writes, is, “already drawing intense criticism for textbooks that, among other issues, downplayed slavery and racial segregation.”

That’s important because the school board is such a major buyer of books its decisions affect editorial content in texts all over the country. So remember that Bruner is an eccentric whose Facebook declarations include “School shootings started after the schools started teaching evolution” and “The dinosaurs on the ark may have been babies and not able to reproduce. It might make sense to take the small dinosaurs onto the ark instead of the ones bigger than a bus.” Huh? Yet Republican elites seem quite satisfied to have a Mary Lou Bruner as the arbiter of what their children read in schools.

And while we’re talking about education, travel over to Texas neighbor Louisiana and look at the legacy that former Republican governor and presidential candidate Bobby Jindal has left behind for his Democratic successor, John Bel Edwards. 

At The Washington Post, Chico Harlan reported,
“Louisiana stands at the brink of economic disaster. Without sharp and painful tax increases in the coming weeks, the government will cease to offer many of its vital services, including education opportunities… A few universities will shut down and declare bankruptcy. Graduations will be canceled. Students will lose scholarships… Since the 2007-08 school year, Louisiana has cut funding for higher education by 44 percent, the sharpest pullback in the nation.”
Part of this can be attributed to the precipitous drop in oil and gas prices and loss of fossil fuel industry revenue crucial to the state’s economy. But the real problem, according to the Associated Press, is that
“Jindal, burnishing his fiscal conservative credentials for his failed presidential campaign, refused to hike taxes or approve any action that even resembled a tax hike, including trimming expensive business tax credits, even amid an economic downturn… Legislators are hearing that cuts described by the Jindal administration as ‘efficiencies’ actually went much deeper, striking at services. They’ve learned about borrowing practices that increased state debts and about threats to Louisiana’s cash flow because it spent down reserves.”
The result? A calamitous budget crisis in the second most impoverished state in the country, a $900 million shortfall that has to be fixed by June 30 and another amounting to around two billion that will need to be closed next year.

So that’s how you govern when you have the power. Thanks, Republicans!

And while we’re at it, ponder, too, the once-great state of Kansas, where, under the right-wing ideology and bumbling leadership of Republican governor Sam Brownback, the clowns are running the circus. The state legislature there is moving toward passage of a bill that would allow the impeachment of Kansas Supreme Court justices for, among other newly-thought of high crimes and misdemeanors, “attempting to usurp the power” of said same legislature or the executive branch.

The reason? As per Edward Eveld of The Kansas City Star, “A recent state Supreme Court decision, citing the Legislature’s constitutional duty to properly finance public schools, has demanded that lawmakers fix a school funding formula by June 30 or risk the shutdown of public schools for the 2016-2017 school year.”

The court also has overturned death sentences and is considering a case that would void anti-abortion rules. The Republican legislature doesn’t like any of this one bit – not to mention that four of the seven judges were appointed by former Democratic Governor Kathleen Sibelius. So in a classic, don’t-raise-the-bridge-lower-the-river solution, the GOP legislators – who outnumber Democrats by three to one – have decided that the answer is to do away with the judges they don’t like and to hell with checks and balances. 

In the words of Esquire’s inimitable Charlie Pierce, “They recognize no limits to their power, no curbs to their desire. There are few frontiers in democratic government that they will not work to violate, or to twist to their own purposes. And they absolutely will not stop. Ni shagu nazad, as Stalin said to his army. Not one step backwards.”

What happened to Kansas? A coup against common sense, sound principles and the “general welfare” hailed in the preamble to the US Constitution. And as it all has gone down, Republican elites seem to have developed a case of laryngitis.

We could go on. Let’s not forget what Governor Scott Walker has done to Wisconsin and Michigan Governor Richard Snyder to Flint. Check out how Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is endeavoring to “fix” higher education there.  Will Republican elites please tell us where they stand on their man’s ax-wielding mania?

And what Republican poobah has dared call out Grover Norquist, whose monomaniacal crusade against government has thrown public education into crisis, turned streets and highways into bottomless potholes, and produced stratospheric deficits? (Bobby Jindal, by the way, was just one of the many who signed Norquist’s no-tax pledge, a major reason why his state is barely holding on by its fingernails.)

Finally, this is the party whose elites deceived America into war after cutting taxes on the wealthy so they wouldn’t have to pay for it. And so it goes. All of which leads us to the conclusion that what’s wrong with the GOP ain’t just about Donald Trump, apoplectic, mendacious malcreant though he is. Over decades, the Republicans have built castles of corruption and citadels of crony capitalism across the country and now the angry villagers are climbing over the ramparts. Not one step backwards? Too late. 


+52 # tswhiskers 2016-03-16 14:53
FINALLY their stupidity, callousness and shortsightednes s have caught up with the Reps. Miraculously, they have gotten away with their tax-cutting antics for decades, but it's finally time for voters and legislators alike to pay the piper. I feel sorry for the children caught up in these fiscal messes, but for the most part their parents have made some really stupid choices at the polls. It looks as if Brownback and his legislature have decided to hunker down and stick with their decisions; who cares if the schools don't reopen or if states must declare bankruptcy? If these events fail to awaken some common sense within the Rep. electorate what will?
+11 # PeacefulGarden 2016-03-16 14:54
Pied Piper of Hamelin? I wish, or you wish. Pipe those fiscal money birds into the river, or mountain side, shut them in.

It really is about the business rats that pretend to be statesmen and stateswomen.

It is such a mess, the whole thing, and there is nothing that can be done about it. The rats are guarded by our police; end of story. We would all be killed if we revolted.

Oh Glen Beck, where are you?
+32 # reiverpacific 2016-03-16 17:12
I would call it "The Biter Bit" -with knobs on!
And I'd prefer the Lemmings over the cliff to the "Pied Piper", who was at least a leader with sweet music as his hook, rather than a bunch of blinkered, directionless, empty suits, like this clutch of mean-spirited mutts -with apologies to all mutt dawgs, who have their own charms.
+23 # pernsey 2016-03-16 17:36
The crazier lunatics are now running the asylum.
+41 # turtleislander 2016-03-16 18:14
Before we moved back to the west coast we put 150,000 miles on my trusty Corolla doing different x-country road trips. Not flying over states, nor even staying on the rusting interstates,it became apparent that the country is in very bad shape. Even in that gun house of Texas, the "conservative paradise" according to fmr. gov Scott, had more heartbreaking ghost towns and half-dead towns than one would expect. Towns with Jetsons-era (great prosperity) buildings abandoned, and boarded up in a cruel irony about a time when the future was bright and soon to arrive.
How can an intergeneration al money-grubbing cabal ever be forgiven for bringing down what America came so close to being?
+32 # angelfish 2016-03-16 18:35
Curious to know if there is ANY entity in this country that can speak Truth and Sanity to those with Deaf ears and Blind eyes? The ReTHUGlicans have done this atrocity WILLFULLY and IRRESPONSIBLY and will find SOME way to try and blame the Democrats and/or this President for THEIR failure as men/women with NO Moral Standards or Scruples. The RePublican Party has been Murdered by these Troglodytes who, in their appalling ignorance had NO alternative "Go To" Plan as Back-up IF the inevitable consequences of their mind-blowing Stupidity came to fruition. Sadly, they HAVEN'T one, and shamefully, it is WE, the People, who WILL pay and Pay and PAY for their Cerebral Vacuum! Never the less, I hope and pray that the thinking, breathing, Caring people in the rest of this country WILL get OVER the Hill and FEEL the Bern so we can nip the Lemmings in the bud before they take us ALL over the Cliff with them! Hillary is NOT inevitable! WE outnumber the "Knuckle-Dragge rs"! It is up to US to fix the Chaos they have wrought!
+26 # Harvard72 2016-03-16 18:52
Some things cannot be believed, except they are true. IN ADDITION to what they write about California's Air Quality Board kicking out its environmentally sensitive director and then voting for the Oil company bill (literally saying Business over air quality), a week before that the California Coastal Commission got a Republican majority and it fired its director who had actually been protecting the coast so that they could now approve developments on the Coast that is supposed to be left undeveloped "for the people." Really, these blatant Republican acts (which Jerry Brown has been silent about, to his shame) somehow have to be brought into the public's consciousness.
+37 # Harvard72 2016-03-16 19:03
I want to add something that does not necessarily follow this thread: In comments at the Washington Post, people write in and say "Obama is the most divisive President in history," and the last few days Hannity and O'Reilly blame "leftists" "far leftists from Move On" and "Sanders supporters" for the violence at Trump Rallies. Any one with a brain who has actually watched from 2008 knows that it is the Republicans who Just Said No to literally everything Obama proposed that caused "the divisiveness." When McConnell said his job was to make Obama a one term President, and he and his moronic followers claimed that everything proposed by Obama was the worst thing ever for the country, they know they cemented this "divisiveness." Likewise, there is no excuse for ANYONE to blame any group or person for the troubles at Trump rallies other than Trump. Many Republicans are speaking out about his language, but every single person who has eyes, ears, and a brain (apparently excluding those like Hannity and O'Riley) should unambiguously condemn Trump for the ignorant abusive rhetoric he is using to deliberately stir up violence.
0 # HowardMH 2016-03-17 10:00
Harvard72, the only point I feel you brushed over is you assume most people have a brain and can see this stuff for what it is.

When the Army rejects 3 out of 10 volunteers (between the ages of 17-23) for not being able to pass the basic entrance test to get in the army and have the brains and common sense to carry a gun, much less operate equipment, this country is literally going to hell fast.
+26 # Archie1954 2016-03-16 19:07
It's too bad that so many of the irate villagers have jello for brains! They are the ones, after all, who placed these incompetent ideologues in power to begin with!
+17 # diamondmarge7 2016-03-16 19:26
Rethuglicans are sociopaths at best; psychopaths @ worst: take your pick. Anyone who votes for that party is either ignorant or stupid: take your pick.
+8 # Shorey13 2016-03-16 19:59
Classic: They created a Frankenstein, and now it is devouring them. Their party is decompensating, falling apart, a collection of disparate shards. Good riddance to bad garbage!

On the other hand, Trump will beat Hillary like a drum. He will get the anti-establishm ent vote and she IS the establishment. No contest. Then he and Putin can go off into the sunset, hand in hand. What a messed up world!!!!
+1 # California Neal 2016-03-17 06:27
Either Democrat will beat Trump. Trump is unpopular with many Republicans, & even if they don't vote for the Democrat, many of them won't vote. Meanwhile, independents tilt Democratic when Trump is the option. And the overwhelming majority of Democrats will be eager to vote against Trump, whether or not they love our candidate.

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