Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quote of the Week

The frontrunner for this week's Quote of the Week was Jon Stewart (always a Crimson Cavalier favorite), with his final punchline from this clip. After detailing Congress' utter failure to perform its most basic functions (hi, Super Committee), Stewart lampoons them for their apparent decision to declare pizza a vegetable--clearly a pressing matter of national security, and the subject of my tweet last week. Noting that this decision was an apparent kickback to the all-powerful frozen pizza lobby, Stewart determined that "it's not democracy, it's DiGiorno". Brilliant. Satire at its best.

And yet, it's not the Quote of the Week. This week, that honor goes to Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson (how is it that Rolling Stone is suddenly the only hard-hitting journalistic outlet we've got left?), who penned an excellent article on "How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich". It's fascinating throughout (worth a read despite its length), but its true magic lies in its lead paragraphs. That's where Dickinson does a terrific job of pointing out the absurdity and relativism that is inherent in political debate today.

Let's not waste any more time. Let's let Dickinson do his thing.


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.
                          - Tim Dickinson; Rolling Stone

Wow, I did NOT see that one coming. I've long lamented the fact that the Republican Party has taken a sharp turn away from its true "conservative" ideals, and that it now sells out aggressively to corporations and the Christian right, merely paying lip service to its original conservative principles.

No longer is the Republican Party the party of fiscal conservatism, regardless of what current party leaders might try to tell you. This is the party of the Bush tax cuts and of constant war-mongering, both of which have done more to increase our deficits and debt than just about any Democratic social program, ever. That they continue to religiously oppose tax increases is not indicative of fiscal conservatism--it's indicative of fiscal recklessness, which the party has quietly espoused for decades now.

That we can read the words of President Reagan--that great shining beacon of Republican conservatism--and easily mistake them for the words of President Obama, whom the Republicans reflexively label as "socialist" and "communist" (when they're not calling him a terrorist) is telling. Unfortunately, it's not telling a good story.

Our two-party system is irreparably broken, having devolved into a self-defeating us-versus-them competition/race-to-the-bottom rather than a cooperative effort to lead and govern. In Washington, diversity of opinion breeds not true compromise but utter contempt, and we all lose in the process. In this case, we seem to have lost sight of who we are, or used to be anyway. Rarely has the "big picture" been so out of focus in Washington--does anybody there see it at all anymore?

[Rolling Stone]

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