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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,218

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The case for throwing Republicans a fig leaf

It's a straight forward argument. If Republicans get some face saving fig leaf in return for backing off the creaking branch that they've climbed out onto, the odds increase that our American political system won't blunder into a miscalculation of historic proportions, failing to raise our debt limit on time and thus plunging the world into some semblance of a depression after a United States default. A Depression isn't a mere political talking point, anything even reassembling one carries horrific suffering for tens of millions of people. It is an extremely heavy price to pay if that is what it ends up costing to defend a sane and functional governing process in Washington. But personally I am very strongly moved by the counter argument; you simply can not reward terrorists for hostage taking, as it always leads to an even larger crisis somewhere not far down the road.

When two compelling arguments clash head on there isn't much room for some middle ground.between them. In my opinion here it what that is. Republicans may need to be given some fig leaf to save some face behind, even though that might fit the definition of making a concession in the face of extortion. But Republicans still need to be humiliated for what they are now putting this nation through. Any fig leaf they might receive has to be conspicuously tiny, it has to be laughably small, it has to obviously be nothing more than a face saving gesture tossed to them by Democrats in return for Republicans finally backing down.

There can be no real reward for what the Republicans have done. Whatever they "win" from this entire charade they have forced upon our nation has to be pitiful, a consolation prize so small that it is barely worth the cost of a stamp to cash it in. It has to be so relatively inconsequential that everyone outside of the hardest core radical tea party fringe will burst out laughing whenever a Republican tries to justify what they did to America in order to win that fig leaf in return.

The Tea Party is off the charts delusional now in their own sense of self importance. They have reached the point where a suicide mission involving the death of innocents is defended as an honorable course of action. They will persist in their delusions whether or not Republicans get tossed any bones in the ongoing talks inside Washington. But the rest of the Republican Party is desperate to negotiate some surrender terms that they can pretend is something other than total capitulation. When you strip all the politics out of it that is simply human nature. That's why the concept of face saving gestures is well established in nearly every culture on earth.

Here is the bottom line though. The Republicans can't come out of this showdown looking good in the eyes of anyone other than the most rabid supporters of that Party, and even that handful of extreme partisans need to come away feeling extremely disappointed with the outcome from this entire exercise in dangerous brinkmanship and masochistic futility. That's what it means to offer a fig leaf to someone who is otherwise stark naked. They don't exit the scene looking dressed again, they look like someone clutching a fig leaf to their genitals, scurrying away with their knees knocking. That is the price that Democrats minimally need to hold out for this time. That is probably a sufficient price for Republicans to pay to not embolden them to try something like this again.

It's a calculated risk, I grant that. There is some pretty crazy thinking in today's Republican Party, and no doubt some in that Party will end up thinking they can spin any fig leaf tossed them into a fine new silk suit. And yes, even fig leafs have value, even fig leafs represent real concessions, small as they might be. But real lives literally hang in the balance now. If Republicans unquestionably lose this stand off in the public eye, regardless of any face saving gestures Democrats ultimately allow them, in the most fundamental political sense they will not end up rewarded for their hostage taking.

The American Right has turned into a gaggle of Drama Queens with Borderline Personality Disorders

Sorry for the gender based language in "Drama Queens" but in common usage it applies equally to men and women and there is no gender free equivalent that so clearly captures what this fringe encompasses. The Tea Party is addicted to conflict. They thrive on it. They need it. It makes them feel heroic and important to take serial stands defiantly resisting forces they assert will lead to the destruction of America and even civilization as we know it (If we don't defeat the Islamic infidels at our gates). That language pours freely from their mouthes. Fundamentalists among them are starting to refer to here and now as "The end times." Those who remain more secular see current politics as the final culmination of a centuries long struggle between those who love Liberty and those who wish Tyranny upon us.

They are still fighting the American Revolution with the rest of us cast as Tories in their self aggrandizing world view. President Obama HAS to be morphed into King George, or Hitler, or Stalin or the Anti-Christ in order to elevate their struggle to one reaching the epic proportions they yearn for. They live for the next Battle, the next showdown. The more the odds are stacked against them the more heroic they feel. And with such a mind set it is not surprising that many of them are willing to risk, if not actively seek, an economic calamity to bring on that cleansing fire.

For more of an actual psychological perspective I just did a search for Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms.Here are the ones listed at a site run by the Mayo Clinic.

Signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder may include:

Impulsive and risky behavior, such as risky driving, unsafe sex, gambling sprees or illegal drug use.

Awareness of destructive behavior, including self-injury, but sometimes feeling unable to change it.

Wide mood swings.

Short but intense episodes of anxiety or depression.

Inappropriate anger and antagonistic behavior, sometimes escalating into physical fights.

Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses.

Suicidal behavior.

Feeling misunderstood, neglected, alone, empty or hopeless.

Fear of being alone.

Feelings of self-hate and self-loathing.

OK, there are always problems inherent in ramping up an analysis focused on individuals into one focused on a movement, but even so the full description found at the Mayo Clinic site sounds disturbingly familiar if applied to some of todays leading right wing figures. Find it here:

This is what we are up against. It can not be placated. It must be confronted directly with reality based interventions.

The Republican Idea of Compromise

So now it is looking like the best case scenario end game to stave off the two headed Republican sponsored monster of government shutdown and defaulting on our fiscal obligations is for Republicans to stand down on their threats for six weeks to allow for "negotiations" with the President to hammer out some reasonable "compromises", while the Republican gun at our collective heads is temporarily holstered. If that is where all this is taking us it shows just how far Republican extortion tactics have already succeeded in bending our nation's future toward an extreme right wing vision of America. Negotiations without hostages being held or a ransom demanded might sound reasonable on the surface, but not if the agenda for such negotiations starts and ends with a list of right wing talking points. And that in a nut shell is the Republican position, and that is fast becoming what conventional wisdom calls “a compromise.”

The pundits say to get us out of the crisis Tea Party Republicans have gotten us into Republicans will need a face saving bone thrown to them first. The promise of serious negotiations with the President AFTER a short term clean continuing resolution and a short term clean lifting of the debt ceiling is agreed to is being called that bone. Instead of negotiating with the President on their list of issues while holding the economy hostage, maybe Republicans will free it temporarily as a prelude to serious talks.

What is wrong with this picture? Hardly anyone in the media or the Democratic Party has called out the Republicans on the premise underlying this pending “compromise”. It is assumed that if only the Republicans will first put down the gun then they can expect to get rewarded with something, the proverbial half loaf negotiators often speak of. Maybe Republicans will finally settle for a quarter loaf once the dust settles, but in return for that flexibility on their part Republicans insist on setting the agenda for “the conversation” they are seeking.

Republicans say that the Affordable Care Act poses a grave threat to the nation and that something must be done to change it; repeal it or at least delay it. So they want the U.S. Senate and the American President to bend to their will regarding it. But Democrats say that rapidly escalating gun violence poses a grave threat to the nation and that something must be done to change it; outlaw assault type weapons or at least close the gun show loop hole for background checks. The seemingly inevitable inter-party negotiations that are approaching will likely include revisiting the Affordable Care Act, but common sense gun safety measures won’t be on the Republican prepared table.

The Republicans claim our current budget deficits pose a grave threat to the nation and something must be done to cut them further. They want further cuts in spending and they want cuts in the economic safety net that tens of millions of Americans depend on. While claiming that current deficits are a huge problem, Republicans accept only one means to deal with them; slashing government spending. Republicans refuse to consider measures that would increase revenue to the government and reduce our deficits that way. Republicans want to negotiate with the President on new cuts only. So to restore any sequestration cuts to the Pentagon more money will need to be taken from programs that are dear to the Democratic Party. That is the Republican version of compromise.

But Democrats believe that continuing high unemployment poses a grave thereat to the nation and that measures must be taken to bring that unemployment down. Most leading economists agree with the Democrats, as does the American public according to countless polls. Rather than firing more workers to shave money off the budget, Democrats believe we need more government funded jobs programs, both in the public and private sectors. Democrats believe it is the role of government to fill the void when the private sector can’t respond to the public need. Jump starting the economy with new government hiring ultimately will more than repay those outlays in future tax revenues. And it will help the American people.

That’s what Democrats tend to believe, and Republicans predictably disagree. But despite controlling the Senate and the Presidency, despite Obama winning the 2012 election and having Democrats pick up seats in both houses of Congress, despite Democrats winning actually winning the combined popular vote for all districts in the House of Representatives, no new jobs bill will be subject to discussion under the Republican version of “compromise”.

And so the politics of compromise has been framed. Republicans posture and say they are being told to surrender when asked to restore normality to our governing process. They will claim to have compromised greatly just to agree to that. What, they will certainly ask, do we get in return? Republicans expect to set the agenda for future talks, and they’ve done a pretty good job of doing that so far. Talk of deficit cutting compromises fill the airwaves but raising the minimum wage never gets a mention. Democrats will be pushed on further spending cuts without any tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. Expect the Affordable Care Act to be put on the negotiating table, expect Social Security cuts to be on that table too. Expect common sense gun safety measures, job creation, and Immigration reform to be decidedly off the table. Starting there, as they say, each side will then have to “give up a little”. Why are so many now so certain that this time Republican extortion won’t work?
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