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Archive for February 2009

The New Opposition: Republicans Take Minority Role in Two-Party System

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The Republicans have taken on the role of the opposition party, and they’ve already shown that they’re not planning on taking prisoners. Where the Democrats have a tendency to try to seem bipartisan and for the most part let their rival administrations appoint the Cabinet members and federal judges they want, the Republicans work hard to force Democrat administrations to go with their second or third choice because of tax evasion and nanny problems. I’m not saying it’s OK to have illegal immigrant nannies, but my point is that if the Democrats would have done their job when they were the opposition party, maybe some of the rancid fish working under Bush would have been thrown back into the pond.

I’m proud to say, by the way, that I got this video up a couple of days ago, which means I beat out the networks; the story of the strong Republican opposition to the stimulus plan was all over CNN yesterday. Plus I totally caught Anderson Cooper in a really yellow move, before a commercial break the teaser was: What really caused the plane to crash in the Hudson River? A new report reveals blah blah blah… And after the commercial, the story is: Bird parts were found in the plane engines. OK, so what Really caused the plane crash was what we’ve been told all along? They’re using this thing to get people to sit through the commercial break now. It’s good news that everyone survived, but otherwise it’s not that interesting a news story. Can we move on to something else?

Being the minority party allows the Republicans to take on the facade of being against the direction in which things are currently moving in Washington, and have been since they were in the majority. The Democrats have gotten in trouble for being too bipartisan in the horrible legislation passed under the Bush administration, but the Republicans are successfully distancing themselves from bailout legislation today, even though their opposition is based on the failed concept of job creation through tax cuts and their attempts to break the United Auto Workers union.

When they are in the minority, both parties use their position, although they do use what little power they have to actually make legislative change, to attempt to define themselves. The Democrats try to define themselves as the party willing to compromise to get things accomplished, and the Republicans are taking on the stronger position of a real opposition, rather than cooperation, party. They’re shutting out the new administration’s legislation, and putting together the talking points to change public opinion. The Democrats don’t have the luxury of being able to really convince people that they were opposed to what the Republican majority was doing because they were voting Yea, and they have to depend on the talking points put forward by the progressives who would really rather be voting third party anyway.

The war of words is coming on strong. The media has already been using terms like “terrorists’ rights” to define Obama’s shutting down Guantanamo, and Dick Cheney has taken it a step further, claiming that Obama will give the terrorists the opportunity they need to attack us with nuclear weapons. He fails to point out that the terrorists have had U.S. soldiers conveniently shipped over to them in droves for the last five years in Iraq, so they’ve been able to kill Americans without having to falsify passports or pay for airline tickets. Now, the headlines are all saying “Maximum Wage” and then in little tiny letters (for corporations accepting bailout money). Obama set the limit at $100,000 above his own salary, when some of us would be willing to kill for $50,000 a year (or at least work for a corporation that systematically kills people). I think there’s nothing to complain about here, although it is legally questionable to impose these limits and even morally questionable to add these limits to the deal after giving away the bailouts.

The corporations receiving bailouts, however, are giving big bonuses for a reason. What bad performance? The corporations have an excuse to do all the downsizing they want with no nagging naysayers because “everyone has to tighten their belts”, and they’ve successfully convinced the government to give them billions of dollars in free money. That’s 100% profit. I’d say it’s time for big bonuses all around, and pop open that champagne. Even if a limit is imposed this year, these executives will be rewarded later for this performance unless some kind of permanent limit is placed. I’m not even in favor of putting a permanent limit to executive pay. Instead, we should be demanding that the corporations pay their workers a real living wage, regardless of where they outsource the work, and installing the kinds of good business practices and regulations our government has been working hard on phasing out over the years, and whatever they have left over after that, let them enjoy it as they please.

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