Saturday, October 01, 2005

The New Republicans

Lonna posted this in comments. This needs front page treatment.

We’re Not in Lake Wobegon AnymoreBy Garrison Keillor August 26, 2004

Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned—and there was a degree of plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today’s. Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poorIn the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass and made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. “Bipartisanship is another term of date rape,” says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we’re deaf, dumb and dangerous.Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering! Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee rooms and write legislation to alleviate the suffering of billionaires! Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight! O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the sure sign of Divine Grace.Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy—the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president’s personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good.Our beloved land has been fogged with fear—fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn’t the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it’s 9/11 that we keep coming back to It wasn’t the “end of innocence,” or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn’t prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second term.This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them. This is a great country, and it wasn’t made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we’re not getting any younger. Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you, dear reader. It’s a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning.

Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of A Prairie Home Companion, now in its 25th year on the air.

9 Comments:

Blogger The Donkey said...

The Donkey curses the spammers.

3:24 PM, October 01, 2005  
Blogger Ron said...

Me too donkey. They always come up right after you make a post. I usually go back and look and do my best to wipe them out forever. As I have with the one that is no longer above. :-)

3:37 PM, October 01, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ron. Next to "With Trembling Fingers" and RFK, Jr.'s Seirra Club speech, "the New Republicans" is one of my favorite things that I have in my book.

Which I am going to this blog 100 times because I have pages of it spread all over my bed and do not want to work on (organize) it.

Lonna

3:58 PM, October 01, 2005  
Blogger The Donkey said...

Just consider not all Republicans think like Bush or support him. This link is about a Republican:

http://www.democrats.org/a/2005/09/lending_a_helpi.php

4:59 PM, October 01, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, THIS is for "the Game" and his "Frist did nothing" statement. It is from the LA Weekly. Jan 10-16, 2003 edition. I have it in my "Government of/by/for Corporations" segment of my "book."

The Bad Doctor
Bill Frist’s long record of corporate vices
by Doug Ireland
While TV gushed last week over the Republicans’ new Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, intervening in a traffic accident, portraying the former heart surgeon as a "Good Samaritan," in truth the GOP has simply replaced a racist with a corporate crook.
Frist was born rich, and got richer — thanks to massive criminal fraud by the family business. The basis of the Frist family fortune is HCA Inc. (Hospital Corporation of America), the largest for-profit hospital chain in the country, which was founded by Frist’s father and brother. And, just as Karl Rove was engineering the scuttling of Trent Lott and the elevation of Frist, the Bush Justice Department suddenly ended a near-decadelong federal investigation into how HCA for years had defrauded Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare (the federal program that covers the military and their families), giving the greedy health-care behemoth’s executives a sweetheart settlement that kept them out of the can.
The government’s case was that HCA kept two sets of books and fraudulently overbilled the government. The deal meant that HCA agreed to pay the government $631 million for its lucrative scams — which, on top of previous fines, brought the total government penalties against the health-care conglomerate to a whopping $1.7 billion, the largest fraud settlement in history, breaking the old record set by Drexel Burnham.
The deal also meant that HCA can continue to participate in Medicare. And, as part of the Bushies’ deal shutting down what Deputy Assistant FBI Director Thomas Kubic called "one of the FBI’s highest-priority white-collar crime investigations," no criminal charges were brought against the top HCA execs who presided over the illegal bilking of federal programs designed to aid the poor — and that includes Senator Frist’s brother, Thomas, HCA’s former CEO (and current director), who’s been described by Forbes magazine as "one of the richest men in America," with a personal fortune estimated at close to $2 billion.
What did HCA do? It inflated its expenses and billed the government for the overrun; it billed the government for services ineligible for reimbursement (like advertising and marketing costs). HCA violated both law and medical ethics when, as Forbes put it, "the company increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors’ referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors ‘loans’ that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture — and free drugs from hospital pharmacies."
This is the ethical climate that reigned in the Frist family’s money machine. In an unguarded moment, Senator Frist told the Boston Globe that conversations with his doctor father about the family calling were like "benign versions of the Godfather and Michael Corleone." Apparently the senator considers defrauding the government "benign." So too does the Bush White House, which dictated the Justice Department deal with HCA that let the crooks escape jail just as Frist was being anointed the Senate’s majority leader. A pure coincidence in timing, of course.
The senator has always claimed no current connection to HCA because the $26 million he and his wife hold in the company’s stock is in a so-called "blind trust." But it was the family’s dirty money that bought Frist a place in the Senate. In 1994, Frist — who’d never bothered to vote before first running for the Senate that year — spent some $3.4 million of his personal fortune to buy the seat from Tennessee (HCA’s headquarters) that he now occupies. Moreover, "In the Senate, Frist has used his influence to further HCA’s cause by stopping a strong patients’ bill of rights, gridlocking a mandatory Medicare prescription-drug benefit, and promoting caps on damages for victims who sue negligent hospitals like HCA’s," points out Jamie Court, executive director of the Santa Monica–based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, who adds, "The Senate should not replace a racist with a principal backer of one of the largest corporate swindles ever perpetrated against the American public. If Frist was a patriot first, he would have sold his HCA stock long ago."
But Frist’s pandering to the lobbyists of the voracious health-care industry knows no bounds. "Frist isn’t the senator from Tennessee — he’s the senator from the state of Health Care Industry Influence — he’s gotten more than $2 million from the health-care sector, giving him the dubious distinction of raising more cash from health-care interests than 98 percent of his colleagues," says Nick Nyhart, executive director of Public Campaign.
Consider the special servicing he gave to pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. In another example of his "patriotism," Frist engineered the insertion into the Homeland Security bill of a provision that would protect Eli Lilly from lawsuits over Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in its vaccines. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Lilly by parents who believe Thimerosal caused autism and other neurological maladies in their kids. The Frist-authored rider shields Lilly by forcing those lawsuits into a special "vaccine court," where they can be easily scuttled, potentially saving Lilly hundreds of millions. The pharmaceutical industry was the largest single contributor to the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee that Frist chaired, ladling out some $4 million — and Lilly was the single biggest contributor to the GOP from that industry, having given $1.6 million in the last election cycle, 79 percent of it to Republicans.
The good Dr. Frist voted against patients’ rights to sue their HMOs for failure to provide adequate treatment, and voted to give tax subsidies to HMOs and insurance companies to offer prescription drugs to seniors, rather than providing them through Medicare. Frist has, of course, personally raked it in from the interested industries, gobbling up $123,750 in campaign cash from the HMOs and $265,023 from the pharmaceutical industry. Frist also took $130,204 from the food-processing industry — and then helped kill a bill putting teeth into the USDA’s authority to crack down on processing plants that violate federal standards for bacterial and viral infection of meat and poultry.
There’s a lot more, like this — so much that it leads to an inescapable conclusion: In the Senate, "Good Samaritan" Frist has almost daily violated the injunction of the physicians’ Hippocratic oath: "First, do no harm."

Lonna

5:24 PM, October 01, 2005  
Blogger The Game said...

I stopped reading that crap after:

the GOP has simply replaced a racist with a corporate crook.

Really objective link...sad thing is you really think it is...

8:49 AM, October 02, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For "the Game." Frist's family HCA paid $1.7 BILLION in fines for keeping two sets of books and for trying to defraud Medicare, Tricare, and Medicade.
In my book that makes the author right to say Trent Lott was replaced by a corporate crook.
No wonder you are so ignorant.
This administration misled us into a war from which their friends and campaign contributors are profiting financially. And they refused to listen to experts who told them anything they did not want to hear -- like to secure the country they would need 300,000 troops -- which is why the war is such a disaster.
This is what Jimmy Carter had to say:
“Truth is the foundation of our global leadership…Without truth—without trust—America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between the president and the people…Recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice…The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of "preemptive" war… we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large we cannot lead if our leaders mislead…Ultimately, the issue is…whether…the manipulation of truth will define America's role in the world. At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul…
Lonna

9:11 AM, October 02, 2005  
Blogger The Donkey said...

The Donkey does not care what the Game does or does not read. The Donkey does care enough to read the game's posts. Was the Game always a coward?

1:57 PM, October 02, 2005  
Blogger Dedanna said...

Eh, so that's what we call 'em eh? "New Republicans"...

Funny, I've thought of every other (bad) word in the book to call them BUT that! LMAO.

8:52 PM, October 06, 2005  

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