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Dump the G.O.P. for a Grand New Party

 by Thomas L. Friedman

From The New York Times, June 8, 2016

If a party could declare moral bankruptcy, today’s Republican Party would be in Chapter 11.

This party needs to just shut itself down and start over — now. Seriously, someone please start a New Republican Party!

America needs a healthy two-party system. America needs a healthy center-right party to ensure that the Democrats remain a healthy center-left party. America needs a center-right party ready to offer market-based solutions to issues like climate change. America needs a center-right party that will support common-sense gun laws. America needs a center-right party that will support common-sense fiscal policy. America needs a center-right party to support both free trade and aid to workers impacted by it. America needs a center-right party that appreciates how much more complicated foreign policy is today, when you have to manage weak and collapsing nations, not just muscle strong ones.

But this Republican Party is none of those things. Today’s G.O.P. is to governing what Drumpf University is to education — an ethically challenged enterprise that enriches and perpetuates itself by shedding all pretense of standing for real principles, or a truly relevant value proposition, and instead plays on the ignorance and fears of the public.

It is just an empty shell, selling pieces of itself to the highest bidders, — policy by policy — a little to the Tea Party over here, a little to Big Oil over there, a little to the gun lobby, to antitax zealots, to climate-change deniers. And before you know it, the party stands for an incoherent mess of ideas unrelated to any theory of where the world is going or how America actually becomes great again in the 21st century.

It becomes instead a coalition of men and women who sell pieces of their brand to whoever can most energize their base in order for them to get re-elected in order for them to sell more pieces of their brand in order to get re-elected.

And we know just how little they are attached to any principles, because today’s Republican Party’s elders have told us so by (with a few notable exceptions) being so willing to throw their support behind a presidential candidate whom they know is utterly ignorant of policy, has done no homework, has engaged in racist attacks on a sitting judge, has mocked a disabled reporter, has impugned an entire religious community, and has tossed off ignorant proposals for walls, for letting allies go it alone and go nuclear and for overturning trade treaties, rules of war and nuclear agreements in ways that would be wildly destabilizing if he took office.

Despite that, all top G.O.P. leaders say they will still support Donald Drumpf — even if he’s dabbled in a “textbook definition” of racism, as House Speaker Paul Ryan described it — because he will sign off on their agenda and can do only limited damage given our checks and balances.

Really? Mr. Speaker, your agenda is a mess, Drumpf will pay even less attention to you if he is president and, as Senator Lindsey Graham rightly put it, there has to be a time “when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”

Will it ever be that time with this version of the G.O.P.?

Et tu, John McCain? You didn’t break under torture from the North Vietnamese, but your hunger for re-election is so great that you don’t dare raise your voice against Drumpf? I hope you lose. You deserve to. Marco Rubio? You called Drumpf “a con man,” he insults your very being and you still endorse him? Good riddance.

Chris Christie, have you not an ounce of self-respect? You’re serving as the valet to a man who claimed, falsely, that on 9/11, in Jersey City, home to many Arab-Americans, “thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” Christie is backing a man who made up a baldfaced lie about residents of his own state so that maybe he can be his vice president. Contemptible.

This is exactly why so many Republican voters opted for Drumpf in the first place. They intuited that the only thing these G.O.P. politicians were interested in was holding onto their seats in office — and they were right. It made voters so utterly cynical that many figured, Why not inflict Drumpf on them? It’s all just a con game anyway. And at least Drumpf sticks it to all of those politically correct liberals. And anyway, governing doesn’t matter — only attitude.

And who taught them that?

But it does matter. I know so many thoughtful conservatives who know it matters. One of them has got to start the N.R.P. — New Republican Party — a center-right party liberated from all the Drumpf birthers, the Sarah Palins, the Grover Norquists, the Sean Hannitys, the Rush Limbaughs, the gun lobby, the oil lobby and every other narrow-interest group, a party that redefines a principled conservatism. Raise your money for it on the internet. If Bernie Sanders can, you can.

This is such a pivotal moment; the world we shaped after W.W. II is going wobbly. This is a time for America to be at its best, defending its best values, which are now under assault in so many places — pluralism, immigration, democracy, trade, the rule of law and the virtue of open societies. Drumpf will never be a credible messenger, or a messenger at all, for those values. A New Republican Party can be.

If you build it, they will come.

Frodo Baggins Blue 2004-2016

Frodo

It is with much sadness that Jon and I tell you of the passing of our sweet, sweet Frodo.

He’s been blind for a while and recently has shown signs of dementia. He stopped eating on Thursday morning and was listless for the rest of the day. When he was the same on Friday morning, we brought him to the vet. They did blood work and glucose testing and an abdominal X-Ray. They sent us to a vet clinic in Indio, where Frodo spent the night with an IV drip and the correct insulin to stabilize him. He started having diarrhea. No change on Saturday.

We went to visit him this morning and the vet said she thought it was pancreatitis and suggested an ultrasound scan. Instead of waiting until Tuesday for their technician, we drove to Ontario and had an ultrasound there. Frodo sat in the back with me while Jon drove. He was obviously in pain; he kept shifting position and didn’t react to our petting and talking.

The results of the ultrasound were not good. Frodo’s stomach was full of fluid and a blockage of some type was not letting the fluid pass through to the intestines. The vet said one option was to return to the hospital in Indio and start a treatment of draining his stomach through a tube down his nose. Once the fluid was drained and whatever was causing the blockage was identified, we could plan additional treatment, including a possible operation to clear the blockage. We decided on the other option to save Frodo from even more days of pain with no promise of success.

The vet placed Frodo on a sofa with his head on Jon’s lap — one of his favorite positions. We started to pet him and tell him how loved he was by so many people. He went to sleep very peacefully.

It was a long and sad ride back home. The first thing was saw when we opened the door was Frodo’s bunny. We’ll give away Frodo’s toys and food and stuff, but Mister Bunny will always be in our home to remind us of the pup we loved.

Donald Trump. Successful Businessman?

Donald Trump, now a Republican presidential candidate,

Donald Trump is not a politician. His sole qualification for President is that he’s a successful businessman. Really?

Trump’s campaign platform has been light on specifics, but he has promised to lead the country through “great deals” on healthcare, trade and diplomacy.

The GOP Elites Have Themselves to Blame

by Bill Moyers & Michael Winship
The Huffington Post

Trump’s the symptom, not the disease. The Republican establishment has been infecting the body politic for years.

From their “Dark Money” bagman Karl Rove to their philosophical guru David Brooks, the GOP elites are in a tizzy over saving the Republican Party from Donald Trump and the other intruders, extremists and crackpots who have fallen in behind Trump as if he were the Pied Piper of Hamelin. But who will save the party from the elites?

Look around at just some of the other sheer lunacy their party perpetrates when it’s not trying to shut government down, redistribute wealth upward, and prevent the president of the United States (who, the last time we looked, has the constitutional right and mandate) from filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

The Republicans in southern California just got a 7-6 majority on the region’s air quality board and have set out to reverse all of its safeguards, “reaffirming new smog rules backed by oil refineries and other major polluters,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mary Lou Bruner, a Republican crank in Texas who claimed that a young Barack Obama had worked as a black male prostitute, is on track to become a key vote on the state’s board of education, the group that, as Matt Levin at the Houston Chronicle writes, is, “already drawing intense criticism for textbooks that, among other issues, downplayed slavery and racial segregation.”

That’s important because the school board is such a major buyer of books its decisions affect editorial content in texts all over the country. So remember that Bruner is an eccentric whose Facebook declarations include “School shootings started after the schools started teaching evolution” and “The dinosaurs on the ark may have been babies and not able to reproduce. It might make sense to take the small dinosaurs onto the ark instead of the ones bigger than a bus.” Huh? Yet Republican elites seem quite satisfied to have a Mary Lou Bruner as the arbiter of what their children read in schools.

And while we’re talking about education, travel over to Texas neighbor Louisiana and look at the legacy that former Republican governor and presidential candidate Bobby Jindal has left behind for his Democratic successor, John Bel Edwards.

At The Washington Post, Chico Harlan reported:

“Louisiana stands at the brink of economic disaster. Without sharp and painful tax increases in the coming weeks, the government will cease to offer many of its vital services, including education opportunities… A few universities will shut down and declare bankruptcy. Graduations will be canceled. Students will lose scholarships… Since the 2007-08 school year, Louisiana has cut funding for higher education by 44 percent, the sharpest pullback in the nation.”

Part of this can be attributed to the precipitous drop in oil and gas prices and loss of fossil fuel industry revenue crucial to the state’s economy. But the real problem, according to the Associated Press, is that:

“Jindal, burnishing his fiscal conservative credentials for his failed presidential campaign, refused to hike taxes or approve any action that even resembled a tax hike, including trimming expensive business tax credits, even amid an economic downturn… Legislators are hearing that cuts described by the Jindal administration as ‘efficiencies’ actually went much deeper, striking at services. They’ve learned about borrowing practices that increased state debts and about threats to Louisiana’s cash flow because it spent down reserves.”

The result? A calamitous budget crisis in the second most impoverished state in the country, a $900 million shortfall that has to be fixed by June 30 and another amounting to around two billion that will need to be closed next year.

So that’s how you govern when you have the power. Thanks, Republicans!

“This is the party whose elites deceived America into war after cutting taxes on the wealthy so they wouldn’t have to pay for it.”

And while we’re at it, ponder, too, the once-great state of Kansas, where, under the right-wing ideology and bumbling leadership of Republican governor Sam Brownback, the clowns are running the circus. The state legislature there is moving toward passage of a bill that would allow the impeachment of Kansas Supreme Court justices for, among other newly-thought of high crimes and misdemeanors, “attempting to usurp the power” of said same legislature or the executive branch.

The reason? As per Edward Eveld of The Kansas City Star, “A recent state Supreme Court decision, citing the Legislature’s constitutional duty to properly finance public schools, has demanded that lawmakers fix a school funding formula by June 30 or risk the shutdown of public schools for the 2016-2017 school year.”

The court also has overturned death sentences and is considering a case that would void anti-abortion rules. The Republican legislature doesn’t like any of this one bit — not to mention that four of the seven judges were appointed by former Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius. So in a classic, don’t-raise-the-bridge-lower-the-river solution, the GOP legislators — who outnumber Democrats by three to one – have decided that the answer is to do away with the judges they don’t like and to hell with checks and balances.

In the words of Esquire’s inimitable Charlie Pierce, “They recognize no limits to their power, no curbs to their desire. There are few frontiers in democratic government that they will not work to violate, or to twist to their own purposes. And they absolutely will not stop. Ni shagu nazad, as Stalin said to his army. Not one step backwards.”

What happened to Kansas? A coup against common sense, sound principles and the “general welfare” hailed in the preamble to the US Constitution. And as it all has gone down, Republican elites seem to have developed a case of laryngitis.

We could go on. Let’s not forget what Governor Scott Walker has done to Wisconsin and Michigan Governor Richard Snyder to Flint. Check out how Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is endeavoring to “fix” higher education there. Will Republican elites please tell us where they stand on their man’s ax-wielding mania?

And what Republican poobah has dared call out Grover Norquist, whose monomaniacal crusade against government has thrown public education into crisis, turned streets and highways into bottomless potholes, and produced stratospheric deficits? (Bobby Jindal, by the way, was just one of the many who signed Norquist’s no-tax pledge, a major reason why his state is barely holding on by its fingernails.)

Finally, this is the party whose elites deceived America into war after cutting taxes on the wealthy so they wouldn’t have to pay for it. And so it goes. All of which leads us to the conclusion that what’s wrong with the GOP ain’t just about Donald Trump, apoplectic, mendacious malcreant though he is. Over decades, the Republicans have built castles of corruption and citadels of crony capitalism across the country and now the angry villagers are climbing over the ramparts. Not one step backwards? Too late.