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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Inheriting the Wind

Uploaded: Oct 10, 2013
The slow-motion devolution of the fractious GOP continues in a very public way. It's far-right, Tea-addled radicals have overplayed their hand, recklessly in every sense. They have reveled in the attention they always craved, without thinking about the greater implications of their actions. In the spirit of those who nominated unelectable candidates in Indiana, Missouri and my Delaware homeland, they have troubled their own House. They are about to inherit the wind.

The modern GOP is not a unified whole, but an odd bedfellowage of evangelical Theocons, now traditional Neocons, anti-regulation businessfolk, anti-government libertarians, aforementioned anti-tax TeaPers and so-called Moderates – I'd call them Eisenhower Republicans; others would use the derisive term RINOs. They are together, not in a common vision, but in opposition to the big, progressive Democratic tent across the aisle.

With the government shutdown precipitated by their own caucus rules being widely blamed on them, they face the calamitous prospect of a government default next week. Rather than acknowledging their overreach and backing away from the precipice, they have doubled-down. The TeaPers have now concluded, against ample evidence, that maybe defaults don't matter, anyway.

Perhaps we should not expect anything else from a bunch that wears factual denial like a medallion. And in case there's Any rational process afoot here, in a game of chicken there may be value in signaling that you are utterly nuts. But they have alarmed their own uneasy GOP coalition partners, particularly those wealthy business-types (WBTs) who underwrite the adventures.

As reported here earlier (having completely missed the Syria breakthrough, I need to gloat a bit), WBTs are heavily invested in world markets, capable of remembering history -- and they despise risk. Accordingly, their various lobbies, which traditionally contribute very heavily to elect GOPers, are in open revolt.

Here's the head of the heavyweight National Federation of Independent Businesses: "There clearly are people in the Republican Party at the moment for whom the interests of the business community — the jobs and members they represent — don't seem to be their top priority. They don't really care what the N.F.I.B. thinks, and don't care what the Chamber (of Commerce) thinks, and probably don't care what the Business Roundtable thinks."

Being accustomed to their Representatives hewing to the lines that financed their campaigns, they are not amused by the current shenanigans. Michael J. Driscoll, a former managing director of Bear, Stearns & Co. and lifelong Republican, expects the WBTs to shift campaign contributions away from House lawmakers. "One thing about Wall Street, it is very aware of who is working in their best interest," he said.

Further, as stated by the head of another influential business lobby: "there's a lot of talk around town about the need for Republicans to get into primaries and protect people who are being attacked because they are only 96% pure. I, for one, think that would be a healthy exercise."

Republican Moderates have not shown a lot of public backbone in this pre-fabricated crisis, but one thing they can be reliably counted-on to do is to be able to count, and to check the balances in their campaign accounts. The business lobby will give them cover – and cofferage – to stand and be counted in an eventual vote to forestall the default. Once that happens, the emptiness of the shutdown gesture will be apparent, I believe, and will go to the weedy graveyard of called bluffs.

So the crisis will be settled where it started, within the GOP ranks. While that's a good and necessary thing, it only gets us back to zero. If time was unlimited and delay had no meaning, it would be an unqualified good thing. But what of the opportunity cost, in terms of the things that weren't accomplished while this intramural drama has played-out? What of immigrants in limbo (and what about my passport renewal?).

Time does matter, and as the saying goes: justice delayed is justice denied. We have all inherited some of the wind blown (and broken) in this most-recent ridiculous affair. Perhaps there will be some new tenants in The People's House next year?

Synopsis: in biblical terms, "he who troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind" (Proverbs). In political terms, the TeaPers have troubled their own Party's House; the results are about to be calamitous for them -- in biblical proportions.

Comments

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Oct 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Tom,

The Tea Party representatives are NOT real Republicans. I consider THEM the RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). I'm still hanging on by a thread as a "moderate" Republican. I know we are called RINOs by them, but they are only called Republicans by the "Liberal Media" which you and I are part of.

At first I thought newspapers and TV Anchors lumped the TeaPers with Republicans because they need to categorize and label everything and everyone and that seemed to be where they belonged. WRONG! Republicans didn't want them, the party leaders didn't want them, and even reasonable conservatives (if that isn't an oxymoron), don't want them.

The media could have called them Libertarians, or Constitutionalists, or Reformers, but No, they called them "Tea Party Republicans," and that has truly messed up the old GOP. It ain't Grand anymore.

Maybe that was the so-called Liberal media's real motive, to destroy the Republican party from within, but I doubt they are that clever.

Roz


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I agree with you about the mainstream media's unlikely capability to foment anything approaching a conspiracy. My personal view, though, is that they bend-over every-which-way to provide both sides, without exercising mental judgment to cull or critique the clearly preposterous positions taken by partisans in some controversies that they cover.

But as to your GOParty's travails, I think you've got some work to do. I go by the duck theory -- if it walks, quacks, flies and swims like one, then it IS one. The TeaPers identify, nominate, purge The Impure, campaign, vote and caucus, as Republicans. They're all yours. I do understand your dismay, as I used to be a Republican, too -- hell, I don't think Gen. Eisenhower, or even Mr. Reagan would be comfortable in TeaPer shoes.

I think that's the internal Party identity crisis that this current unpleasantness is precipitating. So, as a Moderate, will you continue to identify as GOP and just hold your nose, fight to take back your Party, or leave? Those would seem to be the choices. I chose to leave.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 12, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Some of the comments to the original version of this blog didn't carry-over. Here's one I wanted to respond-to.

Posted by Oliver, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm
Yet another diluted opinion piece with nary a mention of race as a central theme in Republican policies and practices. How come? No mention of how the Republican tent has brought under it KKKers and John Birchers? What IS the Tea Party if not a revitalization of KKK beliefs and values? Without consideration of how race figures into current Republican policies and practices, the author's 'analysis' simply blows in the wind, without much substance, at all.
___

@Oliver:

As I tried to indicate in response to an earlier comment, race is always a sub-text in American politics, and I've written on the subject in earlier editions of this blog. One study I commented-on, using what we now call Big Data, concluded that his race cost the Prez about 5% of the vote in 2008. I'm guessing that's about right, and I doubt it changed much in 2012. Further, the related hostility to the ACA goes beyond Mr Obama personally to a concern by some about who gets the benefits of that legislation ("they" do).

But here's the thing: do you not think that nearly everybody-who-matters knows it's always there? Also, race does not completely explain any of this stuff, and if I harp on one subtext all the time, all I'll get is the "race card" blather you got in response to your comment. I'm with Donna Brazile on one of the Sunday shows -- race is always there -- now let's get on with it.

Here's a pretty good new article from the New Yorker about the TeaPers' political heritage. You think KKK; he thinks Birchers. Web Link


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Oct 12, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Tom,

Why do I stay? Because I don't want these RINOs driving all of the moderates out of the Republican Party. I'd like them to go, not me.

There are still some honest, worthwhile Republicans like Abel Maldonado, who is starting a campaign for Governor which I will support. I supported Tom Campbell when he ran for Senate against Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina in 2010.

So that's why I'm not a Democrat. At least they got rid of all the Dixiecrats, (aka KKK), who were enticed into the Republican Party by Karl Rove and Richard Nixon. They couldn't forgive their fellow Southerner, President Lyndon Johnson, for signing the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

Roz


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 13, 2013 at 9:01 am

I think you've got some work to do, then, and I hope you-all succeed.

The underwriters of the Tea Party are some of the WBTs. The have been paying the piper* for the privilege of calling the Party's tune. The Mods have been afraid not to dance to it, for fear of Primary challenges like the one that took-out the very capable, rational Moderate Mike Castle in Delaware (in favor of Ms. O'Donnell, The Unelectable).

There are even dark whispers in KY-land that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is 'not pure enough' and may be primaried. That puts him in a tough spot to help find a debt ceiling resolution, which he's now being called-upon to do. He'll need help from more Moderate sources. Frankly I have no love for McConnell, but the national interest requires that he be able to step up to the plate here.

* with essentially unlimited campaign financing thanks to the awful Citizens United US Supreme Court decision, but I digress. That's an easy thing to do, because the current unpleasantness illustrates the mischief that can be caused by a few uber-WBTs who are willing and suddenly able to funnel $hundreds-of-millions into the political crack-pot.


Posted by Oliver, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 13, 2013 at 11:21 am

Tom states: "But here's the thing: do you not think that nearly everybody knows [race is] always there? Also, race does not completely explain any of this stuff, and if I harp on one subtext all the time, all I'll get is the "race card" blather you got in response to your comment. I'm with Donna Brazile on one of the Sunday shows -- race is always there -- now let's get on with it."

If that isn't so much blather, I don't know what is. Do I think that everybody knows that race is 'always there'? What kind of a question is that, Tom? Surely the Republicans aren't admitting such. And inasmuch as the corporate media avoids the issue, I don't see how 'everyone' could know this. More importantly, your consistent unwillingness to really address the issue -- "this stuff" as you call it -- suggests that you don't have much awareness yourself of how race figures deeply and prominently in Republican policies and practices. As such, your comments appear increasingly thin, while your penchant for stylistic flourish escalates. What's up?

BTW, I doubt seriously that Ms. Brazile is advocating a purge of race-based content from our discourse as you suggest she is. Who do you think you're kidding? Your penchant for using unflattering descriptors for the Republican Party is contradicted by the substance of your analyses which seem quite consistent with Republican Party ideology and practice. Have you worked through this?


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 14, 2013 at 7:39 am

@Oliver -- hey, 'blather' is My word -- get your own term of derision.

I would dispute the notion that any analysis of the GOP-staged budget crisis that does not lead with race is necessarily 'thin.' Race may be the string theory of American politics for you -- it explains everything. That's not my experience or my viewpoint -- as I indicated, I believe it's an element in nearly every political question, without being the only question.

As to Ms. Brazile's comment, I looked for it before making that statement and couldn't find any video -- pretty sure it was on one of the Stephanopoulos round tables in the past year. Your mileage may vary, but as it stands, only one of us heard it. If you find it, please let me know -- I thought it was an interesting perspective.

This is not the place for me to bare my soul on any work I've done on myself -- I am not the issue I'm writing about. I do think it's astounding that this column can be read as "consistent with Republican Party ideology" -- you've lost me, there. Suffice it to say that it is because I'm comfortable with where I sit, personally and politically, that I can write these articles and attach my name to them. The great thing about blogs is that the feedback is immediate, sometimes scalding, and you are able to fill in the gaps and errors you see in my thinking. I hope and trust that will continue.


Posted by Oliver, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 14, 2013 at 8:47 am

I'm not saying that race is the only issue in American politics, Tom. I am saying that when a blogger writes about Republican ideology and practice without mention of race there is a problem that needs to be brought out into the open. And when after being asked more than once to expound on reasons for the omission, all the blogger can do is mention our president's race, the problem becomes increasingly conspicuous.

Brazile's comments are not at issue. If you want to offer justification for your unwillingness/inability to discuss race as it relates to Republican ideology and practice based upon a quip by a media talking head that's your prerogative of course.

You mention you are happy with your own political positions. I know many other Republicans who state the same. But a high comfort level regarding one's own position can often foster superficial analyses while apparently inhibiting critical self reflection. We see examples of this all the time on, say, Fox News.

Don't know about the past writings you allude to; and I have no desire to have you 'bare your soul'. My comments are based upon a glaring omission in what you have written, and then a rather comical effort on your part to change the subject. I'm left wondering whether this is a matter of competence or will.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 14, 2013 at 10:05 am

@Oliver: What's refreshing about this exchange is that I usually get my dripping dose of condescension from commenters on my right, rather than the left.

I'll stand by my basic thesis that this manufactured contretemps is mostly about money -- the "Mother's Milk of Politics" according to a famous Californian. Money-without-limit that finances campaigns and underwrites legislatures that gerrymander districts -- giving its owners an utterly out-sized and exaggerated voice in our politics. It's also about money in terms of spending and debt, and the high cost of health care (although the ACA itself is more about access than cost). And I think money withheld will force it to a conclusion. Is there a visceral hatred of Obama-as-black lurking in there? Of course. But it does not explain why This crisis, at This time, or How it will end.

So make your case about race driving this misguided bus -- the floor is yours, and space is unlimited. But kindly try to keep your criticism within the realm of ideas and not extend it to your perceptions of my personal failings and dubious notions of competence or honesty. My defects are ample, to be sure -- but they're also irrelevant here, not what you think they are, unknown to you in any event, and frankly, your presumptions are personally offensive.


Posted by Oliver, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 14, 2013 at 11:35 am

I've already made my point, Tom. One cannot do justice to the idea of Republican ideology and practice without taking the importance of race into account. You seem to disagree, and I need not adopt any condescension here by referring to your money-based string theory which you seem to want to use to explain everything. But I will say once again, and you seem intent on proving me right, that a reduction of race in American politics to whether or not Republicans have a visceral hatred of our black president simply elides that which is of far greater significance, namely, that Republican policies are aimed at keeping racial and ethnic minorities poor, voiceless, and oppressed.

You give the Republicans far too much credit. You ascribe to them what is in your view a legitimate ideology: they are against big government. Such a view blinds itself to the reality that lurks below the surface of the faux principle. They are not against big government when it prevents women from exercising their right to an abortion or other forms of birth control; they are not against big government that subsidizes predominantly white evangelical churches; they are not against a big government that patrols borders for undocumented immigrants; they are not against big government that props itself up with ever-increasing 'defense' and policing spending. Their 'fierce opposition' to big government is a ruse. Rather, they are against government acting in any way in the interests of the poor and oppressed. This is not principle. And to say that it is only gives it a legitimating aid and comfort that it does not deserve. It is power. It is power enrooted in a history in which many Americans resented the outcome of the Civil War, resented the Supreme Court that rules against Jim Crow laws, resented the 'big govt' that extended civil rights to African Americans, resent paying taxes for inner city kids who without help will go hungry, and still do continue to resent these things.

The Republicans are not against big government. They are against any government that facilitates in any way rights and opportunities of minority groups. You can lament that Republicans like Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan are no longer with us (these are your true colors, from what I can gather). But their racist policies were perfectly consistent with the kinds of vision being 'articulated' by today's Tea Party (yesterday called KKK and John Birch Society).

The Tea Party is not mere zanies who disrupt good old moderate Republican policies that you seem to yearn for. They are modern-day racists, and the Republican Party has had no problem embracing them and their ideology. Please note that so-called moderate Republicans (racists) have not yet gone so far as to call their own Tea Party family members racists. No, its 'moderation' vs. 'radicalism'. Why not call racism for what it is? Because racism is the warp and woof of Republican -- antidemocratic -- ideology and practice, that's why.

Your writings seem oblivious to this. I've asked you to critically reflect on who you are. Being to the left of Ted Cruz does not strike me as much of an imprimatur for being a southpaw. Which side are you on? Silence about the racist core of Republican policies and practices only legitimates the ongoing charade.

Look at average median income of 48K for whites, 26K for blacks. Look at police genocide of our African-American youth -- shootings, imprisonment. Look at Red State refusals to take govt supplements of health care, not because Republicans are against govt assistance, for they are not, but because they want to do as little as possible to help poor, disenfranchised citizens of their states. This is a politics of hatred and resentment, not one of principle as you have been suggesting it is.

The corporate media already keeps score between Republicans and Democrats, Tom, and do so while (systematically) ignoring so much that is important. I'm suggesting if you want to say something of substance that you delve a bit deeper than you have.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 14, 2013 at 11:51 am

FWIW, Bill Keller, whom I also respect, may agree with you on Obamacare Web Link -- see his last paragraph:

"One reason you may not have heard much about this part of the Obamacare story is that it is numbingly complicated ... But I suspect another reason is partisan spite. The Democrats were passionately in favor of enrolling the uninsured, but many would have preferred a government-run program, or at least a public option. What Obamacare has wrought is the kind of market-driven reformation that Republicans pretend to believe in. Which makes you wonder how much of their opposition rests on the merits, and how much is just a loathing for anything associated with Barack Obama."

As to my own leanings, you might want to read a few of these epistles before reaching a final conclusion about my proximity to Ted Cruz.


Posted by Oliver, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I'll take your unwillingness to take issue with what I've stated above to be a concession of sorts.

Republican racism as the core of its policies has gone on long before Barack Obama entered office, Tom. Inasmuch as you persist in reducing any and all race related issues, policies and ideologies to +/- Barack Obama, you continue to miss much of what has constituted and continues to constitute American politics.

Next time someone challenges you on the thinness of your analyses, cross out your entry of <Barack Obama> and substitute with <poor, hungry, oppressed (over-policed) opportunity-denied black kids>. Until you begin to do that, your analyses will continue to be about political gamesmanship and points scored without having much additional to say.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 15, 2013 at 7:35 am

Oliver: a 'concession?' Really? If you're keeping score, it's a game of solitaire. The way I see it, a blog is about discussing ideas, rather than vanquishing the foe -- especially if that opponent is basically on your own team.

Let's 'review the bidding,' then, focusing on the substance over the personal jabs. I write about the shutdown in economic terms, and you say it's racially motivated, instead. I agree that race is in there, but it's always in there, and it doesn't explain everything -- and certainly not This crisis, at This time. You then say that of course it doesn't explain everything about the GOP's actions, but then repeat, in effect, that it explains everything about the GOP's actions. You then trot out one very general economic statistic ... and QED? And if I don't agree, I must be some manner of rhinestone liberal?

You have decreed my analysis to be too superficial, but I'd suggest that viewing it entirely in racial terms is too, well, black-and-white. That simplistic approach also seems to color your attacks on this messenger. You've read two things I've written on one topic, and you now know that I'm part of the corporate media, blind to race and a closet Republican? Your imagination has run away with you, based on a sample of -- two? Good for you, but the world, this issue and your humble scribe are all more complicated, and more nuanced, than that.


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