Last month was not exactly a Patrick Henry moment for Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party when, in essence, he said: "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me tax breaks for the very rich or death to all other worthy legislation".* In order to pursue this goal, the Republicans were willing to place politics over principle, winning over governing and protecting the rich over everything else true, benefits resulted from the compromise and remarkable achievements have followed, but to ignore the context in which they were obtained is like forgetting one paid ransom to retrieve a kidnapped person. Yes, celebrate recovery of the victim, praise the president as chief negotiator, but don't revere the kidnappers or ignore the ransom paid.
We should not forget that in order to achieve their goal, the Republicans blocked the extension of unemployment benefits, health benefits for 9/11 first responders, extension of tax cuts for the middle class, and the nuclear arms treaty -- and all of this before they actually assumed control of the House.
So Unhappy New Year to one and all. Despite the successes in this lame-duck session, these are my predictions for the New Year: We can expect no comprehensive legislation on immigration or the environment. We can expect opposition to efforts to control and regulate Wall Street, the banks and industry. We can expect efforts to curtail spending on social programs like social security, Medicare and unemployment benefits -- rather than defense spending. We can expect efforts to make the tax cuts permanent and repeal the health care legislation. We can expect the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.
I know the voters have spoken, but I am mystified by this nostalgia for Republican control which brought us war, torture, illegal rendition, imprisonment without due process, secret foreign prisons, illegal wiretapping, the outing of a secret agent solely for political purposes, a politicized justice department, an increased deficit and a collapsed economy. I had dinner recently with a Republican friend, well-read, well-educated and extremely successful, and when I inquired, apart possibly from a reasonable dispute about the validity of the health care legislation, what is the basis for these claims that the Obama administration has violated of the Constitution? What are these claimed intrusions by government that have adversely affected the private lives of its citizens? What is the basis for this unrelenting spewing of hatred and anger at President Obama? My friend's wife, without a moment's hesitation responded: "Obama is a Muslim!" I guess therein lies my answer.
* "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death." Patrick Henry
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