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“Good Riddance”: It Wouldn’t Be A burden For The Rest Of The Country If Texas, Alabama And Florida Seceded

As the holidays approach, many of us are faced with a seasonal conundrum: the case of some annoying relative who persists in making various demands on the holiday celebrations (“I won’t come if you serve murdered meat at Thanksgiving!”‘ or “I’m not coming if you invite my ex’s new spouse; they’ve only been married 22 years”). If, as the brilliant novelist Mary Karr has observed, a dysfunctional family is a family with more than one person in it, many of us are faced with these little annual theatrics. And we wonder whether to appease—yet again—or draw the line in the mashed potatoes for once and for all.

And so perhaps it’s time to say this to those residents of (mostly southern) states filing petitions to secede from the United States: Oh, just go, then.

In Alabama, “Derrick B.” has filed papers saying that “We petition the Obama Administration to peacefully grant the State of Alabama to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own new government.” So far, the document has attracted 4,426 signatures, reports (Oh, and way to stand behind your convictions, Derrick No-Last-Name.)

Would this be such a burden for the rest of the country? It’s not like Alabama is going to be able to mount a military assault against its new foreign neighbor. They would be literally surrounded—a situation that could at once make them feel more secure and more ill at ease. One thing impoverished Alabama would lose is all that cash the federal government gives to the state in the form of Medicaid, food stamps, and other monies. But you really want to go? Godspeed, Alabama.

Then there’s Texas, which was in the news not long ago because a local judge, Tom Head, speculated that there would be civil war if President Barack Obama won re-election, and wondered if he’d have to call out the militia. Perhaps Texans think that because their state is so big, they could make it on their own. Go ahead; it will be entertaining to see Texas deal with southern border issues without federal money or guidance. And even more fun when Texans themselves will have to get passports to come to the United States. Oh—by the way, Texan secessionists, if you manage to come up north and work off the books, you won’t get Social Security or even a living wage. Good luck avoiding the immigration authorities.

And Florida, too, has its secession-minded citizens. Think we’ll miss you, do you? We’re all getting a little tired of your election dramas, made even more irritating this year when Florida wasn’t necessary to determine the winner of the presidential election. And what, exactly, do you think you can export—hurricanes? Don’t forget that international issues—such as refugees coming from Haiti and Latin America—get a little more complicated and expensive when you don’t have the political and financial weight of the United States behind you. But if Floridians can’t bear the thought of a second Obama term, buh-bye.

We live in a country with diverse political opinions, as well as a diverse racial and ethnic makeup. It’s logical that a number of people might be deeply disappointed that their candidate did not win. It is not logical to be so convinced that American civilization as we know it will dissolve that one would actually advocate dissolving the union itself. But hey, if things are that bad, take the advice of the candidate who came in second in the presidential contest. Just self-deport.


By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, November 12, 2012

November 13, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“An Apocalyptic Cult”: The GOP’s Biggest Problem Is Itself

“How ya like me now?” — Barack Obama

OK, so Obama didn’t really say that, but surely he must have thought it behind a private smile at some point Tuesday night.

There are no smiles among the Republicans, however, only a pressing question: Can the GOP fix itself? Can a party whose appeal is wholly white and mainly male learn to appeal to a rainbow electorate which is neither? Especially after it has spent so many years denigrating that rainbow, drawing lines in the sand, placing chips on its shoulder.

There are hopeful signs that our long national hissy fit may at last be over. House Speaker John Boehner was making conciliatory noises about resolving the economic impasse the day after the election. Some of the party’s most prominent voices, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have been speaking of the need for the GOP to broaden its appeal. So maybe the adults are finally returning home.

But the place is a wreck, because the kids (looking at you, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain) have been having quite the party. And repairing it is going to be a long and difficult process.

In the first place, any sudden GOP outreach to those it spurned while courting angry older white men must unavoidably appear conniving, self-conscious and self-serving. And once you get past the problem of appearances, there is the simple question of what it will take to undo the damage the party has inflicted upon itself with those groups.

How long will it be before gay men and lesbians are willing to forgive and forget that the party has routinely demeaned their relationships and impugned their moral fitness?

How long will it take before Hispanics are willing to let bygones be bygones with a party that spoke of “self-deportation” and cheered the notion of a border fence to electrocute undocumented Mexican workers?

And how much time must go by before African-Americans are willing to look past the GOP’s unrelenting and deeply personal disrespect toward the nation’s first African-American president, its insistence on treating him as some foreign Other who, in John Sununu’s memorably tawdry phrase, must “learn how to be an American”?

All that said, the biggest question here is not whether the GOP can transform itself, but whether it can even try. At this point, the Republicans are less a traditional political party than what disenchanted former GOP staffer Mike Lofgren has called an “apocalyptic cult.”

And cults are remarkably fact-resistant. Cultists live in a reality of their own construction and, far from being chastened by it, they thrive on rejection. So while the grownups in the party may be reading the writing on the demographic wall and believe it calls on them to abandon extremism, there is every reason to believe the rest of the party will think that writing requires them to double down on it instead.

Indeed, even as Rubio and Boehner were talking sense, party icons were talking the same old craziness. Donald Trump called for revolution in the wake of Obama’s re-election. Ted Nugent called Obama supporters “pimps, whores … welfare brats” and “soulless fools.” Bill O’Reilly said people voted for Obama because he will “give them things.”

And so on.

This, then, is the dilemma Republicans have created for themselves by their own short-sightedness. It was all well and fine to embrace angry white male extremism so long as white male extremism was able to deliver elections. That day is passing and the party awakens in a new America, desperately needing to change but quite possibly prevented from doing so by the very craziness it has so long cultivated.

Ain’t that a kick in the head? For years, the party has won elections by inventing enemies for angry white men to fear. But at this point, the GOP has no bigger enemy than itself.


By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., The National Memo, November 12, 2012

November 13, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Politics Never Disappears”: With A Recalcitrant Congress, President Obama Shouldn’t Back Down

It is said after every election that the victors should put politics aside and work for the good of the country.

If President Obama believed this pious nonsense, he would put his second term in jeopardy. Asking politicians to ignore politics is like insisting that professional hockey players switch to basketball. In a system with national elections every two years — and in which the two parties are in relatively close balance — politics never disappears.

Fortunately, the president knows foolishness when he sees it. He has been toughened by four years of unremitting Republican opposition and has behind him both a large electoral college victory and an advantage of about 3 million popular votes. The word “mandate” is overused — just ask George W. Bush. But Obama was absolutely clear during the campaign about his insistence that taxes on better-off Americans need to rise as part of any deal on the budget deficit and “fiscal cliff.”

And so did Obama gracefully but firmly challenge Republicans on Friday to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class immediately and then begin negotiations on how to raise taxes on the well-to-do. He was asking them to give up their leverage because he knows they don’t have much leverage to begin with. Meet the newly empowered Obama.

The voters clearly heard what Obama was saying during the campaign. According to the media exit poll, only 35 percent of voters said taxes should not be increased. Fully 47 percent of all voters supported raising taxes on Americans earning $250,000 or more, including 66 percent of Obama’s voters. An additional 13 percent, of all voters and Obama’s, said taxes should go up for everyone.

If Republican leaders in Congress want to pretend that Obama’s reelection means absolutely nothing, the president seems willing to let all the Bush tax cuts expire. This is the only way to deal with recalcitrance, reflected in the fact that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t even let the president make his case on Friday before issuing a flat statement rejecting any tax increases. Obama can only hope that he can break more reasonable Senate Republicans away from their hard-line leadership.

House Speaker John Boehner has tried to sound more reasonable, and Obama took him at his word. Graciousness comes easily when you are operating from a position of strength.

Still, even in his conciliatory mode, Boehner made clear that preserving low tax rates for the rich remains the GOP’s single highest priority. The speaker said he might support new revenue but only through some vague “tax reform.” But that’s what Mitt Romney offered during the campaign. Boehner is saying he will make a deal with the victorious candidate only on the basis of the program of the defeated candidate. Here’s hoping this is just a bargaining position.

By emphasizing Obama’s victory as a demographic and organizational triumph, conservatives have been laying the groundwork for renewing their sotto voce campaign suggesting that Obama is somehow “illegitimate” or not “one of us.”

Yet the exit poll found that those who rallied to Obama represent a broad coalition of all of us. Yes, he won African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans overwhelmingly. But the exit poll also shows that 32 percent of Obama’s voters were white women and 24 percent of them were white men, while 23 percent were African-American men and women, and 14 percent were Latinos. This is a genuinely diverse alliance.

Obama’s victory was also plainly a triumph for the center-left: 46 percent of Obama’s voters called themselves moderates, 42 percent called themselves liberals and 12 percent said they were conservatives. Judging by its attitudes toward unfairness in the economy, this is far more a populist coalition than an establishment center. Obama’s voters are invested in growth, raising incomes and reducing unemployment, not austerity and budget balancing.

And this may have been the most important aspect of Obama’s first post-election policy statement. He did not lead with balancing the budget. “Our top priority,” he said right at the start, “has to be jobs and growth,” and then listed his proposals to expand opportunities.

Obama seems to understand that the interests of the coalition that elected him overlap with the national interest. And the politics of the moment reinforce the balanced approach he is advancing now. You get the sense that Republicans understand this and will eventually act accordingly.


By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, November 11, @012

November 13, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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