And now for some truth about today’s GOP, we go to Bob in the Heights

My friend Bob Eddy has something to say today about the current race for president of these United States, about which you may have heard a thing or two in the past year or so. He has an endorsement, and a prediction, and a link to a great story in Rolling Stone (that I’m still working on) with background on the evolution of the Republican Party over the last two generations into the enclave of selfish anti-tax extremists you see before you today. Bob…

Against my better judgment—I guess more than anything because I have a lot of reading time these days—I have been keeping up for some time now with the often humorous and desperate “Anyone but the Mormon!” reality show currently masquerading as the Republican primaries. I mean, who can resist? What a pack of fucking coconuts, every one of them. Excluding Ron Paul, who’s basically a nut with a couple of good ideas, and Huntsman, who is waaay too centrist for this rabid crowd, they’re a bunch of pathetic pledge-signing panderers beholden to the Tea Baggers and Christian right; scumbags who made their millions peddling their influence trying to portray themselves as “outsiders” and reformers—I’d have better luck trying to dress up and look like Kim Kardashian. I liked Bill Maher’s “New Rules for the New Year” featured in the [New York] Times last week – among my favorites: 

If you were a Republican in 2011, and you liked Donald Trump, and then you liked Michele Bachmann, and then you liked Rick Perry, and then you liked Herman Cain, and then you liked Newt Gingrich…you can still hate Mitt Romney, but you can’t say it’s because he’s always changing his mind.

And now you can add Rick Santorum to that list. Concerning Rick Perry:

The press must stop saying that each debate is “make or break” for Rick Perry and call them what they really are: “break.”

Even crusty curmudgeon Krauthammer at the [Washington] Post calls this one “a weak Republican field with two significantly flawed front-runners contesting an immensely important election.” Of course that was a couple of weeks ago, when everyone assumed it would be Romney vs. Newt: Yes Charlie, who will save America from that cloaked and quasi-American and his plan to turn this great nation into a socialistic Hieronymus Bosch painting, the commie love child of France and Cuba?!  In the same editorial he wraps it up with “If Obama wins, he will take the country to a place from which it will not be able to return (which is precisely his own objective for a second term).”

Wow!  Gives me shivers…

Bye-bye, Michele, you were my favorite! Sorry God’s mysterious plan for America doesn’t include you after all! And who can forget “I’m not going away!” Herman Cain…are you fucking kidding me? Oh yes you are, Herman, your little five minutes on stage are mercifully over. Poor Herman, the misunderstood Jimmy Stewart of the pizza business. Yes, after shuffle dancing around the harassment accusations, he then had to admit to a 13-year relationship with an Atlanta businesswoman that included him giving her monthly cash installments—but all in benevolent innocence of course, strictly friends. A friend his wife knew nothing about. You know, like George [Bailey], when he gives the town floozy some cash to go start a new life outside of Bedford Falls in “It’s a Wonderful Life!”

So anyways, with the remaining bag of nuts now taking off the gloves and heading to New Hampshire for another family cage match, the media has been dogging my phone for weeks asking if I’m ready to go on record endorsing a candidate! And my Tweeter is down!! So I’ve chosen tonight to officially give my full support to the incumbent, President O. To quote Thomas Friedman in a recent editorial, “I still don’t want my money back.” Not only that, my money says he will soundly beat any one of these weak challengers. Sorry, they just didn’t/couldn’t come up with a serious contender. Poor Mitt—will he once again face the shame and embarrassment of his party’s rejection? I see grandpa McCain has thrown him a bone of support, as if anyone gives a dry fart what he thinks—the man who gave us Sarah Palin. Dan Quayle is also for Mitt—take that Newt, IN YOUR FACE!

The nation is still recovering from a crushing recession that sent unemployment hovering above nine percent for two straight years. The president, mindful of soaring deficits, is pushing bold action to shore up the nation’s balance sheet. Cloaking himself in the language of class warfare, he calls on a hostile Congress to end wasteful tax breaks for the rich. “We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share,” he thunders to a crowd in Georgia. Such tax loopholes, he adds, “sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary – and that’s crazy.”

Preacherlike, the president draws the crowd into a call-and-response. “Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver,” he demands, “or less?”

The crowd, sounding every bit like the protesters from Occupy Wall Street, roars back: “MORE!”

The year was 1985. The president was Ronald Wilson Reagan.

That’s the opening from an excellent and fascinating piece in a recent Rolling Stone (by Tim Dickinson), entitled “How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich.” I mean no offense to those who vote and stand for the Grand Old Party, but sometimes I wonder if a lot of them really know what they’re voting for these days. It’s quite an extensive and in-depth look at the party today, and its evolution over the last 25 years. What’s most surprising is it’s filled with quotes from top level economic movers, shakers, and advisors of past Republican administrations that, frankly, barely recognize what their party has become. Reagan budget director David Stockman goes on record saying “The 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.” Bruce Bartlett, an architect of the 1981 Reagan tax cuts says “Taxes are ridiculously low! And yet the mantra of the Republican party is tax cuts raise growth…so where’s the fucking growth?”

George Voinovich, former GOP senator from Ohio, when discussing the debt ceiling standoff of last year, likened his party’s new guard to arsonists whose attitude is “We’re going to get what we want or the country can go to hell.” Even economist Glenn Hubbard, designer of the Bush tax cuts, tells Rolling Stone there should have been a revenue contribution to the debt ceiling deal, “structured to fall mainly on the well-to-do.”

Alan Simpson, former senator and personal friend of the Gipper, says Reagan recognized raising taxes as a necessary and effective tool to bring down unwieldy deficits and wasn’t afraid to do so—he “raised taxes eleven times in eight years!” Yes, the Moses of the Republican party, the man who’s name and image is a virtual icon, only hearkened to with reverence and adulation.

Republicans have responded to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression by slashing inheritance taxes, extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, and endorsing a tax amnesty for big corporations that have hidden billions in profits in offshore tax havens. They also wrecked the nation’s credit rating by rejecting a debt-ceiling deal that would have slashed future deficits by $4 trillion – simply because one-quarter of the money would have come from closing tax loopholes on the rich.

How did this all start? With a smarmy little Harvard-educated Chamber of Commerce staffer and sphincter-licker named Grover Norquist, who began the hijacking of the Republican Party back in 1985 when Reagan made him point man for a pressure group called Americans for Tax Reform.

But it’s a long story, I’ve said my piece. I’ll close with something from one of the lucky few presidents who got to actually preside over a government that ran in the black—and get a hummer in the Oval Office from a hot young intern. The article mentions that a decade ago [Bill] Clinton warned the Republican tax cuts would return America to a period of “deficit upon deficit” that culminated in “the worst recession since the Great Depression.”

Obama is going to win because he will successfully make the case that his opponent’s party stands for obstructionism and the demise of the middle class. And it won’t be that hard.

Go Texans!

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For more on the politics of saving the economy, we bring in Bob in the Heights

From time to time, HIPRB! feels the need to turn over the front page for a spirited diatribe on issues of the day (or on something else).  Today is one of those days: my friend Bob Eddy takes issue with a thing or three out of the recent contretemps over raising the federal debt ceiling, and links us to quite an interesting examination of Barack Obama’s fear of confrontation.

That little congressional Mexican standoff was the sorriest and most shameful display of our democratic system that I’ve seen in a long time.  And come Monday morning I brought up the Times with a heavy heart, knowing as sure as the sunrise what I would see—yet another capitulating choke by the president and his party that will once again lamely be defended with that upbeat and reassuring phrase that has become this administration’s slogan: “Well, better than nothing…”  

“We tried, but…”

Like the coach telling the team owner “Well, we only lost by 10…”

“Our offense looked really good in the third quarter…”

“Our new kicker has some real potential…”

And of course I knew also that in the ensuing days we would be treated to the smiling but worn congressional faces of our brave representatives who rolled up their sleeves, set their differences aside, and hammered out a solution just before the clock ran out.  Whew, another global crisis avoided!  And once again we’ll all be reminded that democracy sometimes gets ugly, messy, and contentious, but that’s what makes this country great, and in the end rational compromise will win out for the betterment of the people and what’s best for America.  You know what?  Hey Harry, your catheter is leaking into your socks. 

The saddest part?  Watching the president of the United States spend 20 minutes addressing the nation to plead his case for a sharing of the fiscal burden, and John Boner barely taking 5 to sternly tell him that the dishes were piling up in the congressional cafeteria, and this is what his party will do and won’t do – sweet.  I’ve got to admit, I was taken back by the bluntness of his rebuttal, void of any hint at compromise or even respect.

I knew from the moment Obama got called out as a liar that there was going to be trouble with this crowd.  And I’m sorry, as much as Obama and everyone would like to think the hatred has nothing to do with color, come on, let’s be honest: no president in our lifetime has been this openly treated with hostility, disdain, and lack of decorum.  Not that I don’t have my own issues with our president.  You know, I wasn’t one of the foolishly naive who put him on a pedestal and thought upon his entering office we were all going to put on rainbow glasses and America was going to become Shangri-La West, but at the least I did expect some f****** backbone.

It just seems like his administration thus far has been more a cold slap of reality as far as what the president can do and (mostly) can’t do, than anything resembling hope and change.  He regularly treats his voting base like his third choice for the senior prom, and like me they’re all screaming “When are you going to give up this ridiculous fantasy of reaching across the aisle, of working together for the common good!?  Of expecting anything other than contempt and obstruction from this crowd!?”

Some say he’s playing the long game; I say the strategy has so far brought us next to nothing in the win column – it’s the age old “well now you’re pissing everyone off.”  Stop this ridiculous quest for the Holy Grail of the political center where your number crunchers assure you the percentages predict the most votes…to be the off-white shirt that goes with the most jackets in your closet.  When Leonard Pitts suggested in a recent column that it was time to start throwing some elbows on your way to the basket, my thoughts were “what took you so long to write this column?” 

And of course, Obama’s haggling capabilities leave something to be desired…

Obama at a pricey estate auction somewhere in Georgetown, where he spies a 19th century French coffee table that would like great in his study:

“Hmmm…$2,000, seems a little steep…I’ll give you $1,975!”

“$1,990 and not a penny less.”

“Michelle, get my wallet!”

Anyways, it’s never too early to start thinking about campaign slogans.  I thought maybe this one might look good on the presidential limo’s bumper, or certainly emblazoned across the side of the Marine One helicopter:

“2012 – Guarded Optimism & Mostly Disappointment”

This was a really good piece in the Times last weekend, pretty much sums it up for me.

I recommend the column Bob just referred to: it’s a very interesting examination of President Obama’s seeming aversion to confrontation, and not just confrontation with Republicans on the economy and the debt ceiling, and his failure (so far) to use the mandate he received when elected to get the American people behind him on substantive changes to strengthen the economy and regulate big money interests.  Even if you think he shouldn’t have done anything in those areas, it’s worth the read.

Bob in the Heights, you’re on the air

In the short happy life of HIPRB! nothing has generated more comments (and thank you all) than the discussion of political polarization and irresponsible news media reporting which arose from the Tucson shootings this month.  DunnTower What most of you couldn’t be expected to know is that the transfer of Gabrielle Giffords here to Houston for rehabilitation has created a “local” story which Houston’s Leading Information Source can’t leave alone—so much so that my old friend Bob Eddy, who used to regularly regale a favored few with his thoughtful and entertaining rants during the Shrub Administration (until the relentless idiocy just wore him down), has been inspired by this development to return to the keyboard.  He’s given me permission to share with a wider circle.

Alright, please, enough with the teary Giffords coverage.  The vigils, the minutiae, the outpouring of sentiment, the blah, blah, blah.   It’s been over two weeks now and she’s still front page news —  even more so here, after she recently flew into Houston’s medical center.  When they ran out of anything substantial to say, the Chronicle ran stories on people that have survived “similar” brain injuries, or are even just patients at the same facility…Yaaaaawn…

Ouch, pretty cold there Bob…yes, but it’s not the congresswoman who pokes my ire, I surely wish her a full recovery and long life  —  being a Democrat.  It’s the nature of the story.  I’ve got two words — shit happens.  That’s right, in a country where any deranged nut job can legally — and in Nevada without even a permit — walk up to a political event in a crowded supermarket parking lot packing an automatic handgun with a 30+ ammo clip, you get nothing out of me other than “shit happens.”  Oh the shock, the horror, the humanity!!!  You would have to have been Nostradamus to have seen this coming!!  Let’s look at the math:

A state that even the local sheriff bravely characterized as “the wild wild west” (an opinion that got him absolutely reamed in the conservative media) + highly-charged political rhetoric fueled with blatant references to armed insurrection + everyday American sponge-brain = political vigilantism.

But you see, America loves a good story of triumph against adversity and tragedy.  We would much rather talk endlessly about Congresswoman Giffords’ time in recovery and rehabilitation hell, the incremental medical milestones with her heroic astronaut husband by her side, than why things like this keep happening.

Yes, the desperate, flaccid Democrats did themselves no favor by latching onto the kneejerk Palin connection before we knew anything about this guy.  And because they are a bunch of spineless weasels whose wallets get padded and arms twisted by the same NRA, they were powerless to take on the real nut of the issue and say “you know, after at least half a dozen similar horrific instances in the last 10 years, can we now at least all agree that America is full of nut-jobs ready to fulfill their fantasies and paranoias with a gun, and in such a volatile environment, is all the gun imagery and metaphors — sorry, used solely by the opposing party — acting in a responsible manner?  Is it even remotely appropriate in a public forum?”

The other night Bill Maher brought up a thought-worthy point:  Remember the pointy-brained tea bagger/gun nuts who showed up at all the town hall rallies during the 2008 campaign openly touting their side arms and rifles?

What if they had been black?

Ironically, poor Obama has become the best thing that ever happened to the gun market in the last 50 years.  Sales have skyrocketed ever since he’s been in office, and after this last shooting people couldn’t get to their gun outlets fast enough to purchase their own Glock 36 “before Obama tries to outlaw them!” 

Hey, Thelma Lu, believe me when I say this on my mother’s grave — Obama will propose weekly piñata parties on the White House lawn where all the scrappy immigrant kids get instant citizenship cards with every piece of candy bashed out of a hanging Ronald Reagan effigy before he even mentions in public the first syllable of  the words “gun control.”  He has waaaaaay too much other shit to stir up at the slightest provocation without tempting that bottom of the barrel wet dream.

Before closing I’d like to emphasize that what I refer to as sensible gun control has nothing to do with their abolishment, nor is it a slippery first step toward it.  Just some common sense rules for a nation that kills more people by hand gun violence every day than most countries do in a year.  Although Mexico is giving us a good run for the money…

You might not know, but Giffords’ astronaut husband Mark Kelly has a twin brother, Scott, who is currently commander aboard the space station.  After hearing about it, his official downlinked message included the sentiment “We are better than this.”  Really?  I’m not so sure.  Even as I type, there are states all over this country fighting for the right to openly carry arms into public parks, places of work, schools, restaurants and even bars.  Many have already won.  I haven’t heard churches mentioned yet, but my money says that can’t be far behind.  In 2004 we quietly let the assault rifle ban expire without a ripple.  Someone please explain to me why anyone in the 21st century should be able to legally possess an assault rifle, not to mention as many as he wants.  When America pictured itself as a modern society, did anyone really envision one where 200 years later people are still carrying side arms out in public?  Frontier justice…what does that say about us as rational, communal human beings?  Shit happens.   

And in closing, while we’re on guns, couldn’t someone please shoot Justin Bieber!?