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“Dole, Nazis, And Desperation In Kansas”: Pat Roberts’ Oblique-But-Clear Hitler Comparison

Weren’t politicians supposed to agree that invoking Hitler is usually a bad idea? Somebody better remind Pat Roberts, the Kansas senator on whom the GOP’s hopes of taking over the Senate increasingly depend, that that’s the general bargain. Because lately, the evermore desperate incumbent is going around the Jayhawk State saying things like this:

“There’s a palpable fear among Kansans all across the state that the America that we love and cherish will not be the same America for our kids and grandkids, and that’s wrong. One of the reasons that I’m running is to change that. There’s an easy way to do it. I’ll let you figure it out. But at any rate, we have to change course because our country is headed for national socialism. That’s not right. It’s changing our culture. It’s changing what we’re all about.”

All right, no explicit Hitler mention. But…national socialism? We’ve all heard Obama equals socialism until it’s coming out our ears. But national socialism? That’s Nazism. The National Socialist Democratic Workers’ Party, in case you’d forgotten. And there was only one. Benito Mussolini came out of the more straightforwardly named National Fascist Party. Japan had something called the Imperial Rule Assistance Association.

But only Hitler’s Germany had a national socialist party (well, also certain successor offshoots, as in Hungary). So it’s pretty clear what Roberts is saying here. He would deny it, of course, if Kansas reporters tried to ask him. But denying it would be like giving a speech that makes reference to gruesome murders by repeated stabbing and using victims’ blood to write “Helter Skelter” on the walls and then saying goodness no, whatever gave you the idea that I was referring to Charles Manson?

This is not okay. But I would suspect Roberts is going to get away with it, because Greg Orman, the independent challenger who is lately running ahead of him, is not going to stand up in the state of Kansas a few weeks before Election Day and defend Barack Obama on anything, even an oblique-but-clear Hitler comparison.

The more one studies Roberts, the more one concludes that he is the kind of fellow that former Nebraska Senator Roman Hruska had in mind when he famously quipped that mediocre people are entitled to a little representation, too. Mediocre at best, malevolent at worst. It interests me that he’s lately trotted out old Bob Dole to campaign with him. Dole, coming as he does from an earlier time and now a defanged nonagenarian, represents a degree of old-school moderation at this point in his life, so by appearing with Dole while making references to national socialism, Roberts can cleverly have it both ways. But I hope enough Kansans remember what Roberts did to Dole when the latter was counting on him most.

Dole, who suffered a crippling injury in the Big War, had been one of the leading sponsors of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990. He always called it a proud moment. Fast-forward to late 2012, when the Senate was considering approval of an international treaty designed to spur other nations to emulate the United States’ groundbreaking law. Dole was its most famous spokesman. On December 4, 2012, the now-wheelchair-bound ex-senator rolled himself onto the floor of the old chamber to pigeonhole his former colleagues. A heart-rending scene. How could he lose?

Well, one way he could lose was for his old friend Roberts, who was in the House while Dole was in the Senate, to vote against him, which Roberts did. In fact both Kansas senators did—Jerry Moran’s betrayal was even worse, since Moran had committed to the measure publicly, which Roberts hadn’t. The right-wing lobbying machinery got cranked up and warned God-fearing Americans that approval of this treaty would give the United Nations the power to end home-schooling, or something like that. And so the world’s greatest deliberative body voted down a treaty inspired by our own good example because, you know, one-worldism, Obama, national socialism, and so on. And Roberts and Moran were the prime profiles in cowardice.

The only other time in his career that Washington took much notice of Roberts came during the Iraq War, when he walked point for the Bushies in bottling up for more than two years a report on how the administration misused pre-war intelligence. If you followed such things at the time, perhaps the phrase “Phase II report” will snap a synapse or two. Roberts made repeated promises early on that he would release the report, that there was nothing to fear and that he certainly wanted the truth. Then the weasel words crept in and he started to say things like: “I’m perfectly willing to do it, and that’s what we agreed to do, and that door is still open. And I don’t want to quarrel with Jay [Rockefeller], because we both agreed that we would get it done.” He reversed himself and danced all over the floor. The report was eventually released, but long after it would have had any dramatic political impact, which was of course why Roberts delayed in the first place.

So this is the career Roberts is seeking to salvage by dragooning the man he once betrayed into last-minute service and by raising the specter of America’s Nazi future. Roberts is behind right now, and GOP Governor Sam Brownback looks like he’s going to lose, meaning perhaps the top two Republicans in deep-red Kansas might go down in flames. And it would be nice to think that the right-wing extremism of the Obama era would come back to bite them in, of all places, the Koch brothers’ backyard.

UPDATE: I see from Greg Sargent that Roberts was asked about this quote by a reporter yesterday. He said: “I believe that the direction he is heading the country is more like a European socialistic state, yes. You can’t tell me anything that he has not tried to nationalize.” Great. So a United States senator has no idea what “national socialism” means. I guess in this case that qualifies as reassuring.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, September 26, 2014

September 28, 2014 Posted by | Kansas, Pat Roberts, Senate | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Pretzel Logic Of The Right”: Another Perceived Attack On The Sovereignty Of America, God And Family!

It’s hardly news any more when conservatives oppose ratification of a treaty reflecting widely shared American values. Concern for U.S. “sovereignty,” often based on conspiracy theories about the United Nations and other multinational organizations the U.S. helped create, has become a reflexive excuse for a kind of rigid unilateralism once associated with the John Birch Society or even older, isolationist conservatives.

But the current conservative fight to kill ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is especially interesting because the most avid opponents are the cultural conservatives who often profess solidarity with the disabled as part of their fight against legalized abortion. Anti-choicers and home-schoolers, however, have declared war on the convention on the theory that it confirms the “reproductive rights” of people with disabilities, and/or might confer other rights upon them that intefere with the absolute power of the family (presumably a servant-leader male-directed family) to raise children as they wish.

Thus it’s not surprising that Rick Santorum is at the head of this particular parade in the Senate, which raises the ire of WaPo’s Dana Milbank:

The former presidential candidate pronounced his “grave concerns” about the treaty, which forbids discrimination against people with AIDS, who are blind, who use wheelchairs and the like. “This is a direct assault on us,” he declared at a news conference….

[Mike] Lee, a tea party favorite, said he, too, has “grave concerns” about the document’s threat to American sovereignty. “I will do everything I can to block its ratification, and I have secured the signatures of 36 Republican senators, all of whom have joined with me saying that we will oppose any ratification of any treaty during this lame-duck session.”

Lame or not, Santorum and Lee recognized that it looks bad to be disadvantaging the disabled in their quest for fair treatment. Santorum praised Lee for having “the courage to stand up on an issue that doesn’t look to be particularly popular to be opposed.”

Courageous? Or just contentious? The treaty requires virtually nothing of the United States. It essentially directs the other signatories to update their laws so that they more closely match the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even Lee thought it necessary to preface his opposition with the qualifier that “our concerns with this convention have nothing to do with any lack of concern for the rights of persons with disabilities.”

Their concerns, rather, came from the dark world of U.N. conspiracy theories. The opponents argue that the treaty, like most everything the United Nations does, undermines American sovereignty — in this case via a plot to keep Americans from home-schooling their children and making other decisions about their well-being.

And so, Santorum brought his famous daughter Bella, who suffers from a severe birth defect, to the hearing where he fought against acknowledgement of the rights of people like her.

This is where the pretzel logic of the Right can lead.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, November 27, 2012

November 28, 2012 Posted by | Anti-Choice, Conspiracy Theories | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Did Evan Bayh Begin Job Negotiations To Lobby For Big Business?

The son of a famous senator, Evan Bayh (D-IN) was born into a life of privilege. After spending nearly two decades in public service, first as governor, then as a senator from Indiana, Bayh is returning to a life of wealth and luxury. Earlier this year, he announced that he would be joining a corporate law/lobbying firm, McGuireWoods LLP, as well as Apollo Global Management, a multi-billion dollar private equity firm.

Now, Peter Stone is reporting that Bayh will be joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, perhaps the most influential lobbying group for multinational corporations and big businesses with a far right lobbying agenda.  (View ThinkProgress’ history of the Chamber, including its decades-long opposition to women’s rights, labor rights, and even its refusal to support a war against Nazi Germany.)

Bayh will be joining former Bush administration official Andy Card in a Chamber-led lobbying campaign designed to weaken regulations on corporations across the board, and make it more difficult to enact new regulations. The REINS Act, which Bayh will be helping to pass, will severely undercut (and effectively repeal) significant portions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, health and financial reform, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, among many other laws.

It is not clear how much Bayh is being paid by the Chamber, or by his new gigs at Apollo Global Management or McGuireWoods. During the period of 2009-2010, when Bayh was still in office, he appeared to be auditioning for a job in the private sector as a lobbyist:

Killing Labor Reform: Despite past support for the labor rights legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act, Bayh eventually wavered on support the bill once it had a real chance of passing when President Obama came into office. Killing the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have given workers a fair chance to form a union, was the Chamber’s biggest legislative priority other than passing the bank bailouts of 2008.

Killing Climate Change And Clean Energy Jobs Legislation: Bayh positioned himself to the right of some members of the GOP in opposing a renewable energy standard. He later railed against clean energy reform, which died in the Senate because of obstruction from Bayh and several other conservative senators.

Supporting Pro-Corporate Senate Obstruction: Bayh even formed a coalition of conservative senators — including Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) — to slow and kill major reforms proposed by President Obama. As ThinkProgress’ Matthew Yglesias has noted, Bayh and his cohorts appeared to be “hoping to soak up special interest cash in exchange for blocking the progressive agenda.”

One must wonder: when did Bayh begin negotiations with the Chamber for his current job as a lobbyist? Did the expectation that he would leave Congress and join the private sector as a lobbyist impact his votes and actions while in the Senate? If he had been a staunch advocate for the workers and families of Indiana, and had fought for labor reforms, would he have been welcome for what is probably an extremely highly paid job at the Chamber? The same type of questions could and should be asked of former Reps. David Obey (D-WI), John Tanner (D-TN), Allen Boyd (D-FL), Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), Bart Gordon (D-TN), and many other recently retired members of Congress who have joined corporate lobbying firms.

By: Lee Fang, Think Progress, June 7, 2011

June 8, 2011 Posted by | Big Business, Class Warfare, Congress, Corporations, Environment, Health Reform, Lobbyists, Regulations, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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