How extreme is the GOP?

The Koch brothers are major donators to the GOP.   As Bernie Sanders reports here:

Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:

  • “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
  • “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
  • “We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
  • “We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
  • “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
  • “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence.  Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
  • “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
  • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
  • “As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
  • “We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
  • “We advocate the complete separation of education and State.  Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
  • “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
  • “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
  • “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
  • “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
  • “We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
  • “We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
  • “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
  • “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
  • “We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
  • “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
  • “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
  • “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
  • “We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”

Hey, conservatives! YOU are responsible for torture, widespread death, and trillions of wasted dollars

As Americans, we have a fundamental right to vote and to support candidates, parties, and positions of our choosing.

But voting and political advocacy aren’t just a right. They’re also a weighty responsibility.   Sometimes we support candidates or positions that result in great harm.

For example, during the presidency of George W. Bush, our nation systematically tortured prisoners. This has been known for years, but only recently did the US Senate release a report enumerating the heinous acts performed under the direction of the highest officials in the US government.

Not only did our nation torture, it also initiated a fraudulent war against a nation, Iraq, that was unrelated to the attacks of 9/11. Moreover, that war was planned long before those attacks.  The war resulted in the loss of over 4000 US lives and of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. Some reputable estimates are that over a million people died.  The war wasted trillions of dollars and incited anti-American hatred and jihadism.

People who voted for Bush & Cheney bear responsibility for those outcomes. (Not all conservative voted for Bush & Cheney, but most conservatives did, I’m sure.)  People who supported Bush & Cheney in 2004 are especially culpable, because by then the facts had become available about the fraudulence and recklessness of the war.

Do you conservatives apologize for your support of Bush & Cheney? Do you acknowledge the injustice of their acts?

In 2008 I voted for Barack Obama, thinking he’d be a transformative president who would turn a page on the corruption, class warfare, and war-mongering of his predecessors.  Things didn’t turn out that way. Obama  protected the torturers, the war criminals, and the crooks of the financial industry.  He prosecuted whistle blowers. He surrounded himself with Wall Street cronies.  He escalated the war in Afghanistan, instigated drone attacks in several nations, and meddled in the Ukraine and other countries.  He compromised early and often. He failed to lead.  The health care plan he chose as a centerpiece of his domestic policy was devised by the Heritage Foundation.  His passivism and centrism helped the Democrats to get a shellacking in 2010 and again in 2014.

Still, most of the responsibility for the shellacking is borne by Congressional Republicans who opposed every policy initiative Obama proposed, often with unanimity. Republican intransigence, and the opposition of conservative Democrats, resulted in the Affordable Care Act being as bad as it is.  Basically, Republicans forced a bad health care plan on the American people and then blamed the Democrats for problems with the plan.

But Obama can’t just blame the Republicans. He was a poor leader who chose many bad policies. And as Obama recently said of himself, “My policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies … back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”

This was clear to me by 2010.  So I did not vote for Obama in 2012. And now I regret having supported Obama in 2008.

But the choices in 2008 were not good. Hillary Clinton and John McCain were (and continue to be) more hawkish and more friendly to Wall Street than Obama.   At most I could have made a protest vote, for a candidate with no chance of winning.   Besides, om 2008 I was deceived by Obama’s speeches and campaign propaganda.

So, I apologize to the American people and the world for voting for Obama in 2008, though I plead naiveté and ignorance.   Had I supported Obama in 2012 I would have been more culpable — as were those who supported Bush & Cheney in 2004.

Perhaps many of the conservatives who voted for Bush & Cheney in 2004 knew that he wasn’t so good but figured that he was the lesser of two evils. Indeed, one day in 2006 a Republican coworker came into the office and said, “Yeah, Bush and Cheney have done a terrible job. ” He shook his head and thought for a moment. “But I still wouldn’t vote for a Democrat, because they’d be even worse.”     I really don’t understand that attitude, given how horrible Bush & Cheney were.

We live in a sick society, and our political system is nearly dysfunctional.  People have become so disillusioned with the system that they don’t bother to vote. Turnout in 2014 was the lowest in 70 years.   The candidates our political system delivers for national office are almost uniformly horrible.

Our health care system is insanely expensive and is less effective than that of many industrialized nations.

Our campaign financing system invites corruption, thanks in part to the five Supreme Court justices who voted in the Citizens United ruling that money is a form of speech.

Scientists tell us that global climate change threatens the health of the planet. But many Republicans in Congress think climate change is a liberal myth.

Concentration of wealth and the national debt continue to rise (though the rate of the rise of the debt has slowed down during the Obama administration).   Many corporations avoid taxes by stashing money overseas.   The tax rate for unearned income is lower than for earned income. But Republicans in the next Congress plan more tax cuts for rich people. Is that fiscally and morally responsible?

Washington State has the most regressive tax system in the nation, and the state Supreme Court has held the legislature in contempt for not adequately funding education.  But voters continue to elect Republicans who work to maintain tax breaks and to oppose progressive taxation that would benefit the middle class and the poor.

 

David Stockman on the corruption of capitalism and the GOP

I’m reading David Stockman’s book The Great Deformation — the Corruption of Capitalism in America. Stockman was Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He criticizes the GOP for its militarism and its whoring for the rich. He says there was no need to bail out Wall Street. The speculators who would have lost out deserved to lose and the contagion wouldn’t have spread beyond the canyons of Wall Street. The Great Deformation

Progressives would agree with much of what Stockman has to say.

“[T]he Republican Party was hijacked by modern imperialists during the Reagan era. As a consequence, the conservative party cannot perform its natural function as watchdog of the public purse because it is constantly seeking legislative action to provision a vast war machine of invasion and occupation.” (p 688)

“The Republican Party has totally abdicated its job in our democracy, which is to act as the guardian of fiscal discipline and responsibility. They’re on an anti-tax jihad — one that benefits the prosperous classes.”  “How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich”. Rolling Stone.

But Stockman is a true conservative.  He doesn’t believe the government should be involved in bailing out business or stimulating the economy.  He opposes Keynesian macro-economic policies and thinks that government does more harm than good when it meddles.  He also opposes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the minimum wage.

“At the heart of the Great Deformation is a rogue central bank that has abandoned every vestige of sound money. In so doing, it has enabled politicians to enjoy ‘deficits without tears’ by monetizing massive amounts of public debt.”

Stockman calls the bailout, the stimulus, and the Fed’s printing of money “a de facto coup d’etat by Wall Street” whose purpose was to re-inflate the financial bubble.

“The Detroit-based auto industry was debt-enfeebled house of cards that had been a Wall Street playpen of deal making and LBOs for years, including my own. ”  He thinks the there needs to be a rollback of the “preposterous $100,000 per year cost of UAW jobs.”

Stockman spent twenty years after leaving the White House in the leveraged buyout business.  He was indicted for fraud when a business he invested in went bankrupt. After a two year battle, prosecutors decided to drop charges. Stockman says the business failure was due to stupidity (his) and market decline, not fraud.

In the last chapter, Stockman proposes the following radical policy changes which, he admits, have almost no chance of being enacted in the current political climate.  Some of the changes (such as overturning Citizens United, the establishment of federally funded elections, and a wealth tax on the rich) would be eagerly welcomed by progressives. Other changes (such as the elimination of Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes) would be strongly opposed by progressives.

  1. An end to the Feds expansionist monetary policy and a return to a gold-backed dollar.
  2. An end to deposit insurance and an end to Fed’s lending federally insured money to speculating banks.
  3. Adopt “Super Glass-Stegall II”, erecting a wall between investment banking government funds (“insured deposits or access to the Fed discount window”).
  4. An Omnibus Amendment that limits Congress members to a single term of six years in office and eliminates the Electoral College (“bringing the nation into the modern world of one person, one vote”).
  5. Require Congress to balance the budget, except in case of a declared war.
  6. End Keyesian macroeconomic expansionism and allow the free market to set wages and levels of production.
  7. Abolish social insurance bailouts, and economic subsidies.
  8. “Eliminate the Departments of Energy, Education, Commerce, Labor, Agriculture, HUD, Homeland Security, the SBA, DOT, and the Ex-Im Bank.” Also eliminate Fannie Mae, Freddie Mae, the FHA, the homeowner’s tax deduction, and subsidies for Amtrak.
  9. “Erect a study cash-based means-tested safety net and abolish the minimum wage.”
  10. Abolish all forms of health insurance, including Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare, and replace them with “cash-based transfer payments.”  Also eliminate tax subsidies for employer-funded health insurance. All these forms of insurance, says Stockman, mostly serve to prop up the corrupt medical-industrial complex. “The cancerous growth of the medical care complex would be halted and reversed.”  He believes the free market will devise innovations to provide efficient care. “The one necessary concession to socialism would be a system of federally licensed catastrophic insurance funds would automatically cover the means-tested safety-net population.”
  11. “Replace the warfare state with genuine national defense.”
  12. Establish a 30% wealth tax on the rich in order to reclaim the trillions they extorted from the US Treasury and the middle class. “Needless to say, $14 trillion of national debt reduction could never be achieved under any known ordinary fiscal device; it would require a one-time wealth tax, essentially a recapture of part of the windfall wealth gain that has accrued to the top of the economic ladder during the age of bubble finance.”
  13. Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment (income taxes) and finance “the beast” via consumption taxes.

By the way, Stockman isn’t the only former Reagan economic adviser to argue against GOP tax policy. Former Labor Secretary Barry Bluestone thinks the GOP tickle-down economic policy is a failure. He says “The wealthiest people spend maybe 30% of their income. Poor people spend 100%, working people spend 98%, so as we move money away from working families towards very wealthy families, we take more and more consumption out of the economy, means slower and slower growth, means higher and higher an extended unemployment.”

Conservatives

Conservatives

Wasted trillions of dollars on corrupt, disastrous wars.

Slashed taxes for rich people.

Deregulated Wall Street and banking, causing the 2008 market crash.

Continue to oppose regulation of Wall Street.

Allow corporations to move profits and jobs overseas.

Oppose funding of the IRS to investigate tax evasion.

Gerrymander election districts and enact voter-id and other restrictions to suppress minority voting.

Deny science about global warming.

Cut funding for education and blame teachers for outcomes that are a result of poverty.

Oppose public transit, clean energy, and conservation.

Crush unions.

They also want to hand the Social Security Trust Fund over to Wall Street even though it was financed from workers’ paychecks.

The outrages go on and on ….

Conservative ideology

Conservative ideology is based on protecting rich people from having to pay for the benefits they reap from government: peace at home, stable markets, infrastructure, an educated work force, research, potable water, clean air, public health, etc. Conservatives wasted trillions on corrupt, disastrous wars and are happy to pay subsidies to corporate farmers and Big Oil, but they’re eager to cut food stamps for poor people, crush unions, blame teachers, dismantle public transit, deny science, and restrict the vote. The Norquist No-Tax-Pledge prohibits income taxes but allows regressive sales taxes.

Hey, anti-war conservatives, can we work together to rein in military waste and destruction?

There are many conservatives of a libertarian bent who want to rein in military waste and adventurism.

Progressives and libertarians both oppose the immense corruption, waste, loss of rights, and destruction that results from the activities of the military and security state.

Ron Paul and many of his followers come to mind. But so does the Tea Party.

From the moment they came in to office, a number of the “Tea Party” darlings in Congress were talking openly about cutting Defense Department spending, something which earned them scorn from the military and condemnation from many of the establishment Republicans, for whom military spending can only go in one direction – up. —  Growing Tea Party Calls for Military Spending Cuts

Tea Party members have opposed the NSA.   How the Tea Party became an anti-war movement reports:

The first sign that a real alliance of “progressive anti-war Democrats and isolationist Tea Party libertarians” was actually materializing, says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, was the narrow defeat of a proposal by conservative Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and liberal stalwart Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to restrict NSA domestic phone surveillance.

Tea Party members have recently called on Congress not to get involved in Syria.  Tea Party group to fight Syria resolution:  “Congress should be focusing on the red ink at home, not arbitrarily established red lines abroad,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks. “Congress ignores the will of the voters on this issue at their own peril.”

The Wikipedia article on the Tea Party Movement says:

 Some Tea Party affiliated Republicans, such as Michele Bachmann, Jeff Duncan, Connie Mack IV, Jeff Flake, Tim Scott, Joe Walsh, Allen West, and Jason Chaffetz, voted for progressive Congressman Dennis Kucinich‘s resolution to withdraw U.S. military personnel from Libya. In the Senate, three Tea Party backed Republicans, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee and Michael Crapo, voted to limit foreign aid to Libya, Pakistan and Egypt.Tea Partiers in both houses of Congress have shown willingness to cut foreign aid. Most leading figures within the Tea Party both within and outside Congress opposed military intervention in Syria.

I know that Dennis Kucinich has called on people to move beyond labels and parties and to work on issues that matter, despite differences.

But when I raised the question with progressive friends they responded negatively.

One person responded, “Should happen. Will not happen.” Another person said, “Probably not.”

In a chat room, someone said, “No – I mean progressives tend to be anti-war on human rights basis… libertarians anti-war on money and ‘not-our-business’ basis… different reasons tend to result in different legislation and different strings attached which would be unpalatable to the other sides.”

Someone said, “We tried working with some of them here on GMO stuff. They tried to co-opt the group, and pushed the FEMA camps, contrails, you name it, as part of the agenda”

“They said FEMA camps are dress rehearsals for incarcerating us in camps….a view I happen to agree with.”

“For every tea partier you get, you will lose a Kennedy democrat.”

But I am not calling for a broad alliance with libertarians. That’s impossible.  Just a targeted, narrow, strategic alliance on this one issue.

Someone pointed out that some of the Republican opposition to military spending is a result of their opposition to President Obama. Had  Republican been president, they would have supported the spending.

You’d think that many Christians would loudly oppose military spending and adventurism.  Sure, too many of them care more about abortions and gay marriage.   Still, there are many anti-war nuns and people of faith.

Peace dove

I’d like to invite anti-war conservatives and progressives to get together to see how they can work to raise awareness about the issues and to strategize about ways to rein in military spending, secrecy, and adventurism.

Can progressives and anti-war conservatives work together on this?  It would garner immense interest as an example of across-the-aisle bipartisanship, and it could really have a positive effect.  The blowback from the security state would be immense, no doubt.

Conservative counties in WA are less educated

With the exception of Whitman County (population 44,776), the counties that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 are less educated than those that voted for Barack Obama, as measured by the percent of citizens 25 years and over with at least a bachelors degree.  Click on the image for a larger version.

Conservativeness versus education for Washington State counties

Notice that the points cluster on a line with negative slope, going from King County in the upper-left down towards Adams County in the lower right.

Source: US census and the Washington Secretary of States 2012 election results here.  Raw data below.


Ordered by conservativeness (increasing)

+--------------+------------------+----------------------------+-----------------+
| county       | conservativeness | bachelors_or_above_percent | population_2010 |
+--------------+------------------+----------------------------+-----------------+
| King         |           0.2921 |                         46 |         1931249 |
| San Juan     |           0.3039 |                       44.8 |           15769 |
| Jefferson    |           0.3346 |                       35.3 |           29872 |
| Thurston     |           0.3997 |                         32 |          252264 |
| Snohomish    |           0.4137 |                       28.8 |          713335 |
| Grays Harbor |           0.4274 |                       14.4 |           72797 |
| Whatcom      |           0.4279 |                       31.9 |          201140 |
| Kitsap       |           0.4399 |                       28.9 |          251133 |
| Pacific      |           0.4406 |                       16.7 |           20920 |
| Pierce       |           0.4433 |                       23.6 |          795225 |
| Mason        |           0.4636 |                       18.3 |           60699 |
| Skagit       |           0.4664 |                       23.6 |          116901 |
| Cowlitz      |           0.4772 |                       15.4 |          102410 |
| Island       |           0.4772 |                       30.8 |           78506 |
| Clallam      |           0.4981 |                       24.6 |           71404 |
| Clark        |           0.4988 |                         26 |          425363 |
| Wahkiakum    |           0.5056 |                       16.7 |            3978 |
| Skamania     |           0.5056 |                       22.5 |           11066 |
| Whitman      |           0.5142 |                       48.8 |           44776 |
| Spokane      |           0.5299 |                       28.7 |          471221 |
| Klickitat    |           0.5362 |                       18.9 |           20318 |
| Kittitas     |           0.5517 |                       31.7 |           40915 |
| Yakima       |           0.5598 |                       15.9 |          243231 |
| Okanogan     |           0.5647 |                       17.6 |           41120 |
| Chelan       |           0.5839 |                       24.1 |           72453 |
| Asotin       |           0.5855 |                       16.3 |           21623 |
| Walla Walla  |           0.5999 |                       25.7 |           58781 |
| Ferry        |           0.6066 |                         14 |            7551 |
| Pend Oreille |           0.6118 |                       17.1 |           13001 |
| Lewis        |           0.6176 |                       14.9 |           75455 |
| Franklin     |           0.6208 |                       14.8 |           78163 |
| Benton       |           0.6373 |                       28.6 |          175177 |
| Stevens      |           0.6382 |                       18.9 |           43531 |
| Douglas      |           0.6459 |                       17.4 |           38431 |
| Grant        |           0.6661 |                       14.6 |           89120 |
| Adams        |           0.6731 |                       12.3 |           18728 |
| Lincoln      |           0.7083 |                       19.2 |           10570 |
| Columbia     |           0.7085 |                       18.7 |            4078 |
| Garfield     |           0.7310 |                       24.6 |            2266 |
+--------------+------------------+----------------------------+-----------------+
39 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Ordered by education level (decreasing):

+--------------+------------------+----------------------------+-----------------+
| county       | conservativeness | bachelors_or_above_percent | population_2010 |
+--------------+------------------+----------------------------+-----------------+
| Whitman      |           0.5142 |                       48.8 |           44776 |
| King         |           0.2921 |                         46 |         1931249 |
| San Juan     |           0.3039 |                       44.8 |           15769 |
| Jefferson    |           0.3346 |                       35.3 |           29872 |
| Thurston     |           0.3997 |                         32 |          252264 |
| Whatcom      |           0.4279 |                       31.9 |          201140 |
| Kittitas     |           0.5517 |                       31.7 |           40915 |
| Island       |           0.4772 |                       30.8 |           78506 |
| Kitsap       |           0.4399 |                       28.9 |          251133 |
| Snohomish    |           0.4137 |                       28.8 |          713335 |
| Spokane      |           0.5299 |                       28.7 |          471221 |
| Benton       |           0.6373 |                       28.6 |          175177 |
| Clark        |           0.4988 |                         26 |          425363 |
| Walla Walla  |           0.5999 |                       25.7 |           58781 |
| Clallam      |           0.4981 |                       24.6 |           71404 |
| Garfield     |           0.7310 |                       24.6 |            2266 |
| Chelan       |           0.5839 |                       24.1 |           72453 |
| Skagit       |           0.4664 |                       23.6 |          116901 |
| Pierce       |           0.4433 |                       23.6 |          795225 |
| Skamania     |           0.5056 |                       22.5 |           11066 |
| Lincoln      |           0.7083 |                       19.2 |           10570 |
| Stevens      |           0.6382 |                       18.9 |           43531 |
| Klickitat    |           0.5362 |                       18.9 |           20318 |
| Columbia     |           0.7085 |                       18.7 |            4078 |
| Mason        |           0.4636 |                       18.3 |           60699 |
| Okanogan     |           0.5647 |                       17.6 |           41120 |
| Douglas      |           0.6459 |                       17.4 |           38431 |
| Pend Oreille |           0.6118 |                       17.1 |           13001 |
| Wahkiakum    |           0.5056 |                       16.7 |            3978 |
| Pacific      |           0.4406 |                       16.7 |           20920 |
| Asotin       |           0.5855 |                       16.3 |           21623 |
| Yakima       |           0.5598 |                       15.9 |          243231 |
| Cowlitz      |           0.4772 |                       15.4 |          102410 |
| Lewis        |           0.6176 |                       14.9 |           75455 |
| Franklin     |           0.6208 |                       14.8 |           78163 |
| Grant        |           0.6661 |                       14.6 |           89120 |
| Grays Harbor |           0.4274 |                       14.4 |           72797 |
| Ferry        |           0.6066 |                         14 |            7551 |
| Adams        |           0.6731 |                       12.3 |           18728 |
+--------------+------------------+----------------------------+-----------------+
39 rows in set (0.00 sec)