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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Promises, Promises

This morning on Twitter, Speaker of the House John Boehner was reliving past glories:

"#OnThisDay in 1994, I joined House Republicans in signing A Contract With America."

Ohhhhh, right, it must be election time.

Christmas, you put up a tree and tinsel.  Halloween, it’s ghosts and ghouls. Thanksgiving, it’s pumpkins and construction paper turkeys. Election Season? Republicans start dragging out A Contract with America.

Thanks for reminding us, John.

A Contract With America. You recall this, right?

Twenty years ago today, Newt Gingrich unveiled A Contract with America. It was six weeks before the election and Republicans solemnly promised America that when they took over Congress, well, they'd do a bunch of stuff. Fix things. Make America better.

They made a pact, they did. 

Inside their little Heritage Foundation tree fort, they donned pirate hats made from cleverly folded Wall Street Journals, and the gang all swore blood oaths with their little pinkies hooked together.

And then they made a big show of signing the Contract with America in front of the TV cameras, with John Boehner front and center – and why not? He was one of the guys who wrote it.  Newt Gingrich usually gets credit, but back then John Boehner was the young Paul Ryan Whiz Kid who was going to change things, man, change America.  If you wonder what Ryan will look like in 20 years, well, there you go – maybe a little less orange, but Boehner is Ryan all grown up, old and leathery and cynical.

As contracts go, it was pretty straight forward. Republicans pledged on their solemn honor to reduce the size of government and make the tiny remainder accountable to the people. Boy it sure sounded good, that Contract with America. Republicans were going to clean up corruption in Congress, reform tort law, and reduce the welfare rolls.

But it was a trick. For you see, they had no honor – solemn or otherwise.

Twenty years later, let’s just take a look at how it all worked out:

1) The Contract promised that republicans would ensure all laws that apply to the rest of the country would also apply to Congress. 

Now, now, don’t laugh.

This one was the crown jewel of the contract. Number one on the list.

It didn't even make it out of committee.

Today, under John Boehner, there are laws for us, and laws (snort) for them. And so it goes.

2) The Contract declared Republicans would hire a well known major independent non-partisan auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud, and abuse.

Uh Huh.

1994, what's that? 20 years ago now? Has anybody seen that report?

See, it turned out, surprise surprise, that nobody in Congress, and especially republicans and their pals in the defense industry and on Wall Street, wanted that audit.

Because, seriously, heh heh, you’re kidding, right? 

And today? Well today, the Citizens United decision upheld by a Republican SCOTUS makes Congress significantly less accountable in every single way imaginable.  A vast, nearly unimaginable amount of untraceable money flows like wine through Congress and prominent members of the Republican party have openly admitted that they work for the Billionaires and Big Money.

And just last month, Senate Republicans filibustered an attempt to overturn Citizens United via Constitutional Amendment.

In the House, Boehner won’t even allow the subject to come to the floor for debate.

So much for that audit.

3. The Contract promised to reduce the number of House Committees, and cut the remaining committee staff by one-third.

Heh heh.

The first thing Gingrich’s new conservative majority did was to form more committees and hire more staff to examine how to reduce the number of committees and staff.

Most of those committees and staffers are still around twenty years later – they long outlasted the guy who promised to get rid of them. In fact, today the number of house committees is even more bloated than it was back in 1994 – and that includes the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi (Yes, that’s the actual name) and all its endless subcommittees, which despite spending tens of thousands of man-hours and millions in taxpayer dollars has found exactly … dick.

4. The Contract promised to Limit Committee Chair terms.

This one Gingrich actually followed through on, despite the fact that he and Boehner couldn't figure out how to limit terms for Democrats without also limiting terms for Republicans.

5. The Contract said that republicans would ban proxy votes in Committee.

Gingrich made good on this one too – specifically because it punished Democrats.

Now that Republicans have the majority, there’s been talk of changing the rule back to proxy voting.

6. The Contract with America promised to open House committee meetings to the public.

Not only didn't this happen, with the implementation of the Protect America Act and Patriot Act, a large number of committee meetings became classified in the name of national security and off-limits to not just the public and press, but even GAO oversight. Hell, in some cases, even the sanitized minutes of those meetings are classified.

Want to guess who was the big push behind this move to closed meetings? Liberals or Conservatives? Come on, guess. Come on.

7. Republicans were going to lower taxes and require a three-fifths majority to pass a tax increase.

They tried to amend the Constitution, because that’s what it would take. The bill passed the House, but was rejected by the Senate. So Republicans wrote a law instead, despite knowing there were specific provisions in the Constitution against it – which was why they tried for an Amendment in the first place. The statute passed both houses and was signed into law by Clinton who didn’t have the votes to prevent a veto override – and was promptly struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional when the State of New York sued the federal government.

Not only did Boehner and Co. not keep this provision of the contract, they ended up costing taxpayers billions when the government sued itself for passing a law that it knew in advance wouldn't stand up in court. Because, fiscal conservatives, right? Gonna make those tax dollars count.

8. And finally, the Contract was supposed to guarantee realistic accounting – realistic accounting forsooth – of the Federal Budget through the implementation of something called zero baseline budgeting.

You've heard of this, right?

Sure. Realistic accounting. Zero baseline budgeting. Uh huh. How realistic do you think accounting of the Federal Budget is today?

The Contract with America was the Republican Party’s very specific promise to reduce the size of federal government, reduce taxes, increase entrepreneurial enterprise, provide tort reform, balance the budget, and overhaul welfare. 

Of those promises, Republicans cut taxes. Yes they did, and then massively increased the size of the federal government after starting two wars.  Then they relaxed the rules on Wall Street and gave us the Great Recession.

Then they sent the bill to the next administration and blamed Obama for not fixing it fast enough.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

By the time Republicans lost control of the House and Senate, the cost of the programs the Contract with America promised to fix or eliminate completely had increased by more than 25%.

Four years ago, Republicans led by John Boehner rolled out A Pledge To America, sort of A Contract With America Lite.

"The federal government is too big, it spends too much, and it's out of control," said then House Minority Leader John Boehner. “The current federal government isn't listening and doesn't get it."

The current federal government?

If this was a court room and an actual contract, that would be the part when John Boehner incriminated himself. Right there.

“Our government has failed us," Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) agreed. "The land of opportunity has become the land of shrinking prosperity. People are outraged."

Oh, people were outraged all right, I know I certainly was.

You see, the Pledge these two simpering jackasses were presenting promised the same thing the Contract did, but it was long on promise and short on details.  The Contract had at least contained a roadmap and some specific details (none workable, but still), the Pledge was mostly sound bites and vague hand waving. Republicans didn’t need details, they had Obama. All they had to do was publicly hate him and the rest just sort of followed.

When pressed about The Contract With America and the failure to live up to his end of the contract, Boehner smiled his orange orange smile and said, hey, we only promised to “bring to the House Floor the following bills… .” We did not say we would actually do any of those things.

And so, like 1994, republicans took the House in 2010 and John Boehner became Speaker of Bullshit.

And the Pledge to America?

Like the Contract, it just sort of faded away, quickly forgotten – it was only four years ago, and I bet you’ve never even heard of The Pledge To America, have you?

The only part of their pledge Republicans made good on was hating Obama and obstructing every possible bit of progress since.

Back in 2010, as I watched John Boehner unveil his Pledge, I said in an editorial that “after November, no matter who wins, this Pledge like the Contract before it will quietly disappear. The weasel words have been carefully crafted and the plan is already in motion. This contract isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, just like the last one. And somewhere, there are a bunch of Native Americans shaking their heads and laughing. Contract with America? Heh heh. Hey! Maybe they'll offer you a land deal next!”

For more than 20 years, John Boehner has been making the same bullshit promises. Twenty years.

He doesn’t deny it, he Tweets about it.

Middle-class families in Southwest #Ohio are being squeezed. When does Washington get the same treatment?

That’s what Boehner said this morning on Twitter.

When does Washington get the same treatment? Seriously? I mean seriously?

John Boehner is Washington.

He’s been Washington for nearly 30 years!

When is Washington going to get the same treatment? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Republicans can blame the president all they like, but John Boehner and his cronies have been making empty promises and shilling the same con game long, long before Barack Obama came along.

And now, here we are, six weeks out from the election and what’s Boehner doing?

Why he’s making the same old promises, the same old pledge, the same old contract.

As I pointed out back then: Contracts, real contracts, are legal instruments entered into by both parties – not something drafted up by one side and foisted on the other.

Here’s the thing, so pay attention: we already have a contract with Congress. A legal and binding contract.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.“

That, my fellow Americans, is the contract our leaders have with us. That right there, nothing more and nothing less.

For the last five years, Congressional Republicans together and separately have refused, utterly refused, to live up to the one contract that matters. They have not faithfully discharged their duties, and far from being ashamed of it, John Boehner revels in it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again as many times as it takes:  If these people, these disingenuous, dishonest, despicable sons of bitches take the Senate next month, it will not be because they’ve kept their promises or lived up to their contract with the people of the United States of America – it will be because you are too goddamned lazy to get off your ass and hold them to account.

Republicans are confident that they will hold on to the House and that they will take the Senate in November.

They are positive they will win and win big.

But, then, that’s what they thought about the White House last time around.

Prove them wrong.

93 comments:

  1. Suggestions for corrections go here, in reply to this comment.

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    1. Suggestion: write more, publish more, expose more, expand your field of exposure and continue to tear their asses apart.

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    2. I agree with Ken. The more we educate the people, the more we will expose their scheme.

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    3. Suggestion on style: pick whether you want to capitalize "Republican" (and "Democrat", and any other party that might fight its way to the surface), and stick to the rule from then on. Writing it uncapitalized looks like either a typo or deliberate snark (a'la the folks that abbreviate "government" to "govt" - i.e. "government" is a four-letter-word.)

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    4. He probably was genuine and sincere in his contract with Americans, what we didn't comprehend is that who they consider to be the "real" Americans.

      And here is a clue, if you didn't write a $35k check at a political fundraiser you are not a "real" American and the resources of this country do not belong to you. Since the wealthy are smarter than everyone else obviously their votes are more valuable and they deserve the resources of this country because they create jobs and their wealth flows down to the rest of us.

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    5. Well, shoot. Finally there's a Typos Go Here post, very first thing and all, and wouldn't you know it? Can't find a damn one. I'm a little sad. (I'm also kidding. Clarion call post, Chief!)

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    6. Pretty much, yeah. I think we need to understand that the political philosophy (such as it is) of the Republican Party today is essentially fascist. The essence of fascism is the worship of strength, or at least what a fascist thinks of as strength, which is the ability to force others to do your will whether they like it or not. Indeed, if you can force people to do things that are damaging or humiliating, that's a real sign of strength in the fascist worldview.

      So of course the rich and powerful are better than the rest of us. Their money makes them stronger and strength is to be worshipped. This is why "conservatives" hate the poor and women (who are presumed to be weak) and gays (who are "womanish" and therefore...). It also explains their obsession with weapons and the trappings of war.

      If you look at the world from their perspective, it all makes sense. And it's why they make such great serfs for the ruling class. They would rather believe themselves to be part of the 1% (even though the real1% knows damn well they aren't) than admit to being part of the 99%, because that would admit to not having power.

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    7. Did not find any typos, but I just can't resist sharing this with your grammar-enforcing minions. (really, I tried to resist, just couldn't):

      http://www.girlswithslingshots.com/comic/gws-1897/

      Bruce

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  2. As I said at the time when the "contract" was proposed, it was misnamed.

    It was a "Contract *on* America"; a hit-job. Nothing that has transpired since would make me change my mind.

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    1. Yes, you are absolutely right...er...correct! I was going to post the same thing, but the e-mail just came in. Good for you...
      Thanks Chief Jim.

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    2. I did the same thing but didn't see your post. My apologies. Well, herveus and hillsmom, great minds and all that!

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    3. Those of us who remember the political situation back in '94 called it the Contract On America back then. If the situation has changed, it's gotten even worse.

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  3. Did you hear about U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado and what he said Tuesday about talking to our generals behind the scenes, encouraging them to resign, which would basically muck things up at the Pentagon?
    I heard about it yesterday and was just floored.
    M from MD

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    1. They no longer even bother to try to hide their treasonous behavior!

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  4. I didn't catch any typos, but this is a great, great essay... needs to be sent around the world.

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  5. You are so right and you say it so well. Thanks once again.
    I could go into hatred rants on these repubs but I will just vote and get everyone I know to vote and get rid of them.
    John Boehner and his cohorts are despicable and need to be gotten rid of. I wish there were an easy way.

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  6. I haven't missed an election since it was a choice of registering and going AWOL from a TS installation, which would not have been a good move, enlistment wise, or not registering. Tricky won that one.

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  7. Boy, I wish the people of Kansas weren't so brainswashed against Democrats. I'll be voting, but who knows how it will turn out! I'm afraid it will be business as usual, no matter how bad our Senators are.

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  8. I have always wondered if you could sue congress for violating that pledge. It could be a class action law suit. . .

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  9. Thank you.
    P.S. Thank you for post on FB about exposing those who send you hate mail/messages.
    "They said it, they can own it"
    You da best!
    Keep on keeping on!!

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  10. Here in AK we have an excellent replacement for Congressman Don Young who is smart, energetic, and actually is young! 30 year old Forrest Dunbar!

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  11. Early voting starts on October 20th here in Florida. I will be taking my 6-year old to vote on the 25th (I took her on the previous election, so we go to vote together so she learns from the start that if she does not vote, she relinquishes her right to complain). Since I became a citizen in 2000 I never failed to cast my ballot (and I never voted red, nor I never will).

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    1. Florida is one of a handful of states where, thanks to the Electoral College, it actually matters who you vote for in the Presidential election. Unlike Democrats in Alabama and Republicans in Massachusetts, our votes actually matter.

      JZinFL

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    2. Well anonymous in Florida how does it feel to live in a state where the Republicans have been trying to gerrymander the districts so that Republicans can win all the electoral college votes. So guess what your vote does not matter if you are a Democratic voter. The R's are trying to rig the game once again.

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    3. Anon - Remind me, which recent Presidential candidate was previously Governor of Massachusetts? Here's a hint: it wasn't the Democrat, and it wasn't twenty years ago either.

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    4. I was referring ONLY to the electoral college's effect on the PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION (caps meant to express exasperation over the misunderstanding). Massachusetts has always been a bit schizophrenic about it's governors with a roughly equal number of R's and D's being elected to the office over the past 100 years (14 R, 12 D) but in the presidential elections, except for Eisenhower, then Regan squeaking through by less than 0.2%, the state has gone solidly Democratic for the last 90 years.

      As for gerrymandered districts, if you live anywhere in the US you likely live in a gerrymandered district. And, as if the electoral college system weren't already bad enough, a few states even allot their electors by district with more and more Republican-run state legislatures pushing for a change in that direction. The electoral college is what gave us Bush v. Gore in 2000 when Gore won a decisive popular vote victory. The system is dangerously out-dated and the source of much mischief. And it's why, in a race for president (except for the primaries and fund-raisers) candidates rarely waste precious time and money campaigning in any place other than swing states. Unless you live in a swing state (like Florida and a handful of others) they don't really care that much about your vote. No presidential candidate regardless of party has Vermont or Mississippi on their itinerary, Why would they bother?

      As for all other elections, federal, state and local, especially in the mid-terms (like now) a resounding YES - your vote - each and every one - counts very, very much. And elections matter - very, very much. Now more than ever.

      JZinFL

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    5. FYI. Here in Delaware, It's impossible to gerrymander. We only have ONE congressional district for the whole state

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    6. One other thing .... Florida, thankfully is one of the majority of states that awards it's presidential electors by state-wide count, not by congressional district (like Maine and Nebraska do). Otherwise, since I live in a solidly Republican district there would have been absolutely no reason for me to bother voting in the presidential election regardless of my party affiliation. And if the "electors awarded by district" plan were in place nation-wide (as many Republican operatives are pushing very hard to accomplish) Mitt Romney would have won the 2012 race while having solidly lost the popular vote. Currently, the "by district" plan is moving ahead nicely in Virginia, all of whose electors were awarded to President Obama in 2012 but the majority of whose electors would have been awarded to Romney had the "by district" plan been in place at the time. And the rest of the world would be scratching their heads and wondering how the candidate who got the most votes lost. Again.

      This country is in great need of election reform that is uniform nation-wide but, not to be a pessimist here, states rights are still a huge "thing" even 150 after the supposed end of the Civil War. The whole subject of election reform is one that most citizens would be well served to learn more about.

      JZinFL

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    7. Jz, you make a great point. Enough voters, especially on the democratic side don't bother going out in local and state elections. Here in Ohio we are a split state, but you wouldn't know it by our representation. Who is to blame? The politicians, who use the system, or the voters too apathetic to care that it is happening? I think its the later. We, the people are getting exactly what we deserve when we don't act.

      Kate in Ohio

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  12. Great essay, Jim. The Republican faithful, those hard working folks barely making ends meet in red states keep eating up all the Republican contracts and pledges, never once looking back at all the broken promises. It's like some people and psychics. They love the prognostication, but never check back the next year to see how it all came out.

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  13. As Gabriel Marquez said, "shame has a short memory."

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    1. There's the Utah Phillips version too. "The most radical concept in America is a long memory."

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  14. Brilliant, thanks, Jim. (Even though, reading your succinct and fearless analysis of the pitiful collection of glad handers we call the Congress and the Senate I feel like my head will explode).

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  15. Didn't the original "Contract for America" also put in term limits for Republicans?

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  16. If only we could get the republican base to read this and actually comprehend what you're saying here. If only they weren't so brain-washed and bedazzled by all the smoke and mirror b.s. they are fed. If only, if only... wouldn't it be wonderful... if only.

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  18. I'm glad M from MD mentioned the issue with U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) Colorado urging top officers to resign over the President's foreign policy. During wartime no less. And this dope serves on the House Armed Services Committee yet never served a day in uniform. His opponent in November, conservative Democrat and retired USAF Major General Irv Halter will most likely lose the election. Seems, Colorado's 5th congressional district was drawn up in the 1970's by Democrats to get rid of their opposition by dumping them into a permanently Republican district so, as planned, since it's formation Colorado 5 has elected not one Democrat. Gerrymandered districts allow treasonous asshats like Lamborn (and Michelle Bachman) to keep their seats but on the positive side we also get to hear the voices of men like Maryland's Elijah Cummings and Georgia's John Lewis, neither of whom would have had a snowball's chance in hell of getting elected in the south without the creation of a "safe" district.

    JZinFL

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    1. You don't know how right you are about Lamborn...His area is what we, in CO., call the "Crazy Corner" of the state...old Doug is just the tip of the crazy...Dr. Chaps, and the rest of the xtian crazies have had that area sewn up for years...
      Jim, is it illegal for Lamborn to do that??? and what can we do???

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  19. Riveting stuff as usual, Jim. You really do have a mind and a memory like a steel trap. Were you to have been a trial lawyer, I'm sure the other side would be bringing extra pairs of skivvies during a trial. I don't recall the "Contract" or the "Pledge.". This may be for the reasons outlined in at least one study I heard about, which found that people don't retain much information on the opposite side of their arguments. Being a liberal who scores to the left of Ghandi, I find it terribly difficult to sit through even a few minutes of right-wing smug nastiness and outright stupidity (and falsehoods). That you are able not only to do that, but to critically dismantle their drek, makes you an exceptionally fantastic human bean!

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  20. I've said for years that these SOB's are tractors and should be charged as such.

    whitelilly

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    1. Would those be Ford, Deere or International Harvester tractors? (Or maybe Kubota, those foreign bastards.)

      (Yes, I know, AutoCorrect blows. Turn the damn thing off if you don't want to inadvertantly look like an idiot. Though I'm no fonder of people yelling "Traitor!" when they're on my end of the political spectrum than I am when they're on the opposite.)

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    2. I think they're Massey-Ferguson just because then you can call 'em MF Tractors.

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    3. Just snorted coffee out of my nose! MF tractors indeed!

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    4. It took this long to snort coffee out of your nose? Hell, Jim had sugar puffs pushing into my sinuses with "Heritage Foundation tree fort!"

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    5. And aren't Massey-Ferguson tractors red as well?  Perfect analogy for Republican congress-critters who moves slowly, makes a lot of noise, and creates a lot of smoke.

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  21. A most excellent essay Jim! If the language can get a little more polished and the themes a little more condensed, this would make a fantastic op-ed piece in most respectable media. And Americans need so badly to hear this and think about it. Thanks!

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    1. For what it's worth, I second Ara's suggestion. Shop it around to some major news papers and/or magazines (The Atlantic, Harper's, New Yorker, etc.) and see if any one of them has the balls to publish this excellent essay (and others).

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    2. Agreed, would love to see some pieces like this where there is a chance some Republicans might see it!

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    3. So send it to your favorite repuglican, I do!

      Auerbob

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  22. the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi [...] has found exactly … dick.

    Objection... we already knew Darrel Issa was a dick.

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    1. I will cheerfully set aside Darrel Issa's performance in Congress and still call him a dick. In the early-to-mid '90s, I couldn't walk home from my job - or from the bus stop that got me back from my job - without setting off two or more of his fucking Viper car alarms just by passing by them.

      The late Molly Ivins once called the car alarm "the definition of urban insanity" - and in my case, that came perilously close to going both ways. There were nights when I dearly wished I had a baseball bat to hand, to answer that stupid Stentorian "Step Away From This Car!" with "WHAT WILL YOU DO IF I DON''T?" (WHAM WHAM WHAM))

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  23. Amen, Jim. It boggles my mind that 24,000,000 women do not vote who are eligible to do so.

    And, cantankerous readers, if you want to volunteer to drive people to the polls who may have difficulty getting there, check with your local county political party, preferably Democratic.

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    1. I agree. The number one responsibility we have to our country is to vote, be an informed voter. those who don't vote, don't get to bitch.

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  24. Jim, may I suggest that you provide a sharing tool at the bottom of your blogs so your words of wisdom can be disseminated far and wide.

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    1. There is a sharing tool. Right below the "Posted by Jim Wright" at the very bottom of the essay is a little bar with icons for different social network or media formats. If you hover over them, you will see that each is an option for sharing via that specific format.

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  25. The Republicans were duly ousted in 2006 owing to a wave of scandals, a mess in Iraq, and a feeble response to Katrina. Democrats took the Senate and House. The Democrats have made things worse. The Nobel Peace Prize winner is bombing his seventh Muslim country, we have the weakest recovery in modern history, labor force participation has plummeted, not a single bankster has been prosecuted, Obamacare has become deeply unpopular, the debt will have doubled, another wave of scandals.

    Voters will hold their nose, give the Republicans another try, and be disappointed yet again. We need more parties. These two suck.

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    1. 1. It seemed to me that President Obama was a bit mortified over the whole "Peace Prize" thing but what do you do - say "no thanks"? Also, his opponents on the right want bombs AND an invading army and, if you listen to folks like Lindsey Graham, he's doing "nothin' - an' we're all gonna' be killed".

      2. "The Recovery" has lots of moving parts, very few of which can be controlled by anyone residing at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue regardless of party affiliation. The President can and has suggested tons of fixes that congress has refused to move on though because, you know, OBAMA!!!

      3. "Labor force participation has plummeted". Huh? The unemployment rate has dropped.

      4. "Not a single bankster has been prosecuted". Now there you might have a point. How much effect any president has over that is questionable though perhaps he could have persuaded his Attorney General to kick some banker butt.

      5. "Obamacare is deeply unpopular" because, you know ... OBAMA! Folks seem to love their own personal state-run health exchanges that were set up under the Affordable Care Act so what's that all about? On a personal level, my monthly individual insurance bill dropped from $1,126.00 to about $350.00 and I have a better policy than I had before. I do wish there was some treatment for the mental affliction called ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome).

      4. We'll see progress on the national debt when lawmakers stop telling their constituents they can have their cake and eat it too, that the way to get debt under control is to cut taxes. Whatever else you thought of him, George H.W. Bush correctly referred to that as "Voodoo Economics". The tax rate went up a bit under Bush 1 and Clinton and the debt went down but "W", at Cheney's urging went right back to the Voodoo and started two wars which exploded the debt. That debt continues today's under Obama as an after-effect of the recession which cut overall tax revenues.

      5. Wave of scandals? Please - don't go there.

      Voters need to hold their noses and stop punishing their elected officials for enacting responsible fiscal policy - like a bit of stimulus spending and a more fair tax code where those who get all the financial benefits to share a little.

      JZinFL

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    2. Please quit quoting from your Glenn Greenwald/Libertarian/GOP handbook of nonsense. You are lying--plain and simple. Stop it.

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    3. 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue is EPA headquarters. As far as I know no one lives there.

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  26. I'm a moderate. I've voted both major parties, as well as Green and Libertarian, and I try to vote issues, not party. I'm currently a registered Republican because I caucused for Jon Huntsman back in 2012. I sincerely thought then - and still do - that he was the best choice to lead us out of this mess. I cast my actual vote for Gary Johnson, certainly not perfect, but better than the other two puppets.

    This time, though, I will vote for no Republican. Not one. It seems like they're all corporate owned religious nutbags, so screw that. I'm not saying the Dem's are better, just a helluva lot less scary to this moderate.

    Btw, I am ever so THANKFUL Steve 'Fruitloop' King might lose his House seat to a moderate Dem Iraq vet. That happens, I might just throw a party.

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    1. I could have voted for Huntsman, I still would.

      Naturally, he couldn't even make it to the republican primaries.

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    2. Yeah. Because sane, smart, and capable aren't 'electable' qualities, or maybe because he wasn't for sale. Either way, we all lost out.

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    3. Tammy, ‘electable qualities’ is whole big chapter under the issues of this oligarchy that should be discussed. The first time I saw Hunstman in the debates and the disrespect he received for divulging the facts and truths that the ‘majority’ do not approve of, I saw the downfall of the rightish party and the nation. If given a “choice”, I would have voted for him as well.

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    4. Why, Jim? He doesn't give the creepy vibe of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, for sure, but back in 2011 he was awful on jobs and he was anti-abortion. As governor of Utah he has (drumroll, please)…cut taxes and increased spending. Those sound like reasons to vote against, not for. He back-pedaled on climate change, too.

      What Huntsman's failure shows, I think, is that without the scare propaganda, the Republicans—or at least conservatives Republicans, and there isn't any other kind any more—have nothing. No. One thing. They have fear. But the truth is not with them.

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    5. In addition, he's for getting rid of capital gains and dividends taxes, and yet another tax holiday for the repatriation of corporate profits (the last of which did not increase anything but shareholders' incomes!) which would continue to encourage corporations to hide money overseas and not pay taxes on it.
      Yeah, he may not be as foaming-from-the-mouth bat-shit crazy as the rest of the repugs, but he's no friend to a progressive society. I don't get the love here for him.

      April

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  27. Strange in a way to think it has been 20 years since the Contract. Thinking about then and now it struck me that perhaps the two most troubling changes are the concentration of ownership of major media in America, and Citizens United.

    Fox news, is literally owned by an Australian and a Saudi prince, both of which are known for extreme right wing beliefs, and most decidedly do not have the best interests of the USA at heart. 5 other individuals or corporations own the balance of the majority of media outlets now. None, not one is known as being particularly progressive. So we have Fox, telling the big lies, over and over until their viewers believe with a religious fervor the lies they are told. This allows the republican base to vote against their own interests in every election.

    Citizens United of course allows the Kochs and other billionaire right wing plutocrats to purchase elections outright, rather than having to sneak around in the time honored American political tradition. Sure there are some progressive billionaires fighting the good fight, but the difference in dollars generated is massive.

    Of course other realities in the present are impacting our politics today, but they seem to me to be the most in need of correcting.

    As always your essay is to the point, insightful, and thankfully, a delight to read.

    Thank you

    Rick Morton

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    1. "Fox news, is literally owned by an Australian and a Saudi prince . . ." I've always wondered how the Islamophobes deal with this.

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    2. "not ours!!" "not ours!!" we don't want him back (fro mAustralia)

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  28. Not like Democrats are much different- it is just their bullshit is a different color and has a slightly different odor to it. I wish that was not the case for the sake of America. I firmly believe good decent people, with strong leadership skills and a vision for America do not want to run for office. They want no part of the sewer that DC is.

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    1. I would respectfully disagree. I don't think my Massachusetts Democrats think of DC as a sewer. They'll keep trying to do the correct thing. Pablo

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  29. Mr. Wright
    This post nails it, as do all your posts. It needs to be seen everywhere and shown on places like the Huffington Post. Thank you for your writing-no one else puts into words, the truth the way that you are able to. Thank you!

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  30. Under President (Saint) Reagan, there was a blue ribbon committee which came up with a report about waste in government (I think it was called the Grace Report). The single largest agency of waste (by many, many millions over number 2) was the Defense Department. It is virtually impossible to now find that report.
    Government is the problem because corporate america controls and finances it, not because it is inherently the problem. If "government" acted to level the playing field (with things like regulations) so that actual people (not corporations who are now people) had some rights, which it used to do, we would all be far better off. But, there is no honest business out there of any kind which really believes in or wants competition, and too many Americans think the poor are poor because they deserve it and too many Americans think that one day they might be a billionaire, so of course, we don't want to tax those entitiled folks.....and faux news and right wing radio....I always vote, but have less and less hope for my country.

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    1. Not sure the Grace Commission Report should be your go-to source for governmental waste-fraud-&-abuse-and-runaway-taxation info.

      The Grace Commission Report[3] was presented to Congress in January 1984. The report claimed that if its recommendations were followed, $424 billion could be saved in three years, rising to $1.9 trillion per year by the year 2000. It estimated that the national debt, without these reforms, would rise to $13 trillion by the year 2000, while with the reforms they projected it would rise to only $2.5 trillion.[4] Congress ignored the commission's report. The debt reached $5.8 trillion in the year 2000.[5][6] The national debt reached 13 trillion after the subprime mortgage-collateralized debt obligation crisis in 2008.

      That thing was a supply-siders'/anti-taxers' wet dream, and was ignored for good reason. Also a wingnut conspiracy theorist favorite 30 years later. "100% of your tax dollars go to pay the interest on the National Debt! Wake up sheeple!!!11!...

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    2. Nick formerly from the O.C.October 9, 2014 at 2:30 AM

      Pretty sure the Anon poster was thinking of the Packard Commission report (yes, the H-P Packard). It was focused on the DoD and not the Federal government as a whole.

      At (very very roughly) that same time, Coopers & Lybrand issued a study asserting that DoD paid a 17% cost premium for having contractors comply with its regulations, including using MILSPEC for supplies that the commercial marketplace was eminently capable of providing without the need to meet MILSPEC requirements. (Chocolate chip cookies was the poster child, as I recall off the top of my head.)

      It's kind of an arcane area in which to devote one's professional life, but it works for me ...

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  31. I blame Obama. (snark). Also, I always referred to it as the "Contract ON America". Thank you for taking the time and effort to detail the lies. A brilliant post as always.

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  32. The Republicans have proven time and again that they are extremely adept at running for office. The problem arises when they are elected; they have no ability to govern. The dog that finally catches the car comes to mind.

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  33. The Republicans are positive they will win because they are once again in denial about the actual polling data. Right now it's actually likely that they will not get a majority in the Senate, according to Sam Wang's Princeton Election Consortium (which predicted the 2012 elector totals with impressive accuracy). If they don't, it will presumably be evidence of a Great Obama Conspiracy, which is how they're still explaining away 2012.

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  34. Jim Wright : "This morning on Twitter, Speaker of the House John Boehner was reliving past glories."

    That would be the one & only thing I disagree with here - to relive past glories surely you have to have some to to begin with?

    Now what has Boehner ever done that could really be described as glorious? I certainly can't think of anything.

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  35. Ah the golden years where the GOP's Contract lit up the world with hope and joy (not). That was followed in 2010 by the uniting chant from the GOP that creating JOBS as their #1 priority (and second & third). I am at a loss why any Democrat running doesn't play any ad or series of ads - asking the question on how many "promises" were made and actually fulfilled? I finished watching the Roosevelt saga on PBS and what FDR campaigned on versus GOP is the same thing today -- only THEIR plan will improve Social Security (trust us), our plan will give everyone health insurance (and they are still spending money to defeat what was their plan but they wouldn't implement - it was always only to be an idea they could point to saying we have the plan but the meany Democrats won't let us pass it). So as I was driving in today and sitting at a traffic signal i realized almost every improvement in the US has been from Democrats - from electrical power to paved roads, airport construction to space exploration, equal rights (or a start), now health care, etc. I simply do not understand why candidates don't remind voters of each parties track record...good and bad...I like my party's record - at least when one of our side messes up the odds are good that he will be voted out or kicked out by leadership unlike GOP where they can pray and then assure everyone God told them it was OK -- hey, I want the video when you got the OK from the burning bush or cheney otherwise I'm assuming you made it up. Marlene

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  36. According to Sam Wang, polling expert and neuroscientist: "The most effective places to do get-out-the-vote and to spend money are […]: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, and Louisiana. Maybe Georgia and North Carolina."

    If you live in one of these places, get active. Even if you don't, contributions to Democrats are welcome, and telephone banking is also welcome.

    (No links now. Maybe links later.)

    "It is a curious fact that, even among the opponents of democracy, the vote is considered important. That is why there is so much effort to persuade people not to do it, to persuade people to vote for candidates who can't possibly win, to prop up splitter candidates, to make it difficult to get permission to vote, to revoke people's permission to vote, to lose people's permission to vote, to falsify the vote, to not count the vote, to claim the vote isn't valid. Your vote counts, and your political opponents know it--that's why they don't want you to do it."—me, six years ago

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  37. By the way Jim, thank you so much for saying that these people have no honor. I don't talk about it much, but it is very important to me. I wish we would hear more about the classic conservative virtues of honor and integrity from conservatives!

    Hunh. I suppose that is a point in Huntsman's favor. If he is truly honest, and he's taken a lot of flack for being honest—it might be possible to persuade him, or at least make deals with him. But it is hard for me to believe that, push comes to shove, he will not cave in to the mighty right-wing propaganda machine.

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  38. Great article and perceptive.
    Haven't heard about the ninja cat for awhile. Just sayin'

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  39. THANK YOU MR. WRIGHT. Someone has finally said what needs to be said. You get the government you deserve if you do not vote.I've missed two elections since getting the right when i was 19. Bob R.

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  40. Links. Donate! Volunteer! Vote!

    It looks very much like the war hysteria is swinging the vote in favor of the Republicans. If you are tempted, remember that Republicans lose wars, and spend lots of money doing it.

    It also looks to me very much like the "conservative" strategy is to put the country on a permanent war footing, and use it as an excuse to cut as many social insurance programs as they can. And I wonder…the Nixon campaign prolonged Vietnam by four years, so it could win the election. I wonder if there are conservatives who are actually aiding ISIL.

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    1. It seems to me we are already on a permanent war footing, vis-a-vis, the war on terror.

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  41. None of this is the least bit surprising when we have elected officials who are such slime and so stupid as to admit that they want high-ranking American military officials to refuse direct and lawful orders from their Commander in Chief.

    Peace
    Chris in South Jersey

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  42. I am contacting you to make sure I can post this in comments on Salon, an article on McConnell. I read your reposting rules and think if I put the link to this article in my comment and tell everyone to "check this guy and this article out", I'll be okay, but I'm asking first.

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    1. Yes, a link to this essay is just fine. And thanks // Jim

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  43. Thanks once again, Jim. Excellent post, even if it did make me feel a little like beating my head against the wall.

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  44. I will be voting, but against all reasonable logic it looks Lindsay Graham and Tim Scott are cruising to re-election.

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