The 2015 GOP Clown Car: Bigger, Meaner, and More Dangerous Than Ever
Another year gone and another string of long-winded, factually inaccurate, and manufactured comments from the clowns in the Republican Party are behind us. With every passing year that the little clown car pulls up it seems to get a little bigger and every year more and more clowns pour out and step up to the podium to obfuscate and pontificate. Nearly everything they say would lead one to believe that they are impervious to reality and yet their statements are made in such a way and with such confidence that it's as if they had received the message from God Himself.
When you pay attention to the news and politics as much as I do, you get to a point where a facepalm is a frequent occurrence. Eventually eye rolls are more common. And hopefully, if you've managed to maintain a shred of your sanity, you get the occasional chuckle out of hearing someone in politics bloviate about something they apparently know nothing about. Having any faith in humanity makes it hard to believe or accept that some of these folks actually believe what they're saying. Common sense would dictate otherwise, but not everyone is blessed with common sense. After all, people vote for morons, usually against their own best interest, and people watch FOX News despite evidence that the channel gets its facts wrong more than 50 percent of the time.
In fact, Fox News host Sean Hannity got the award for "Worst Host" in a poll conducted by the Mediaite website. Mediaite asked fellow media members to pick the best and worst of cable news networks: Fox, MSNBC, and CNN. Respondents were told that their votes would be kept anonymous to encourage honesty. Hannity won hands down and he didn't take it well as evidenced by an epic, public, all caps,tantrum on Twitter.
The most ridiculous comments seem to come from Republicans and I would defy anyone to say otherwise. I have yet to see anyone come up with a list of comments from liberals that comes close, in volume or content, to lists of stupid things Republicans or conservatives say on a fairly regular and consistent basis. It might be low hanging fruit, but there's a lot of it and every time one of them opens their mouths America becomes a little more ignorant.
Hannity isn't alone. The Republicans, as a whole, have been wrong about nearly everything this past year. As Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times:
All year Americans have been bombarded with dire news reports portraying a world out of control and a clueless government with no idea what to do. Yet if you look back at what actually happened over the past year, you see something completely different. Amid all the derision, a number of major government policies worked just fine -- and the biggest successes involved the most derided policies. You'll never hear this on Fox News, but 2014 was a year in which the federal government, in particular, showed that it can do some important things very well if it wants to.
There are some good points in the article and Krugman provides some clear examples of how the Republicans were ridiculously wrong about their cartoonish view of a tyrannical, weak, and useless government.
Among the issues the right-wing clown machine got wrong were Ebola, the economy, and health care according to Krugman. While the GOP was busy spreading fear and propaganda, the rest of us watched as Ebola was not the epidemic that would wipe out the country the way the pre-midterm hysteria made it out to be. As it turns out the CDC (a government agency) knows what they're doing and America wasn't over run with Ebola or members of ISIS and Mexican drug cartels flesh-eating disease carrying zombies.
The GOP gave it their best shot, though. Representative Phil Gingrey (GA) tried to tell us that illegal immigrants were carrying Ebola across the border via drug gangs:
As a physician for over 30 years, I am well aware of the dangers infectious diseases pose. In fact, infectious diseases remain in the top 10 causes of death in the United States... Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning.
Rep. Steve Stockman (TX) thought there was something more nefarious afoot and that any potential action or inaction by the federal government would somehow lead to American citizens losing their rights and freedom:
It's just a strange non-response, a strange way of handling it and I think that if it does go forward and we do not control it, there may be an overreaction where the government starts taking away the rights of those that aren't that necessarily involved or need that to happen," he said. "I hope that's not the case, but as you know this current government uses crisis to advance their philosophy and their agenda.
In the end, conveniently after the midterms, it turned out that Ebola was limited to less than a half-dozen people in the U.S. and only one person died. We haven't heard about it since.
The economy has improved dramatically. Private sector jobs are increasing, the stock market is going gangbusters, gas prices are down, and last quarter the economy showed the fastest growth in a decade. Forbes magazine even had the audacity to say that Obama's economy out-performed that of the GOPs lord and savior, the great Ronald Reagan. Not bad for a Muslim-Nazi-business-hating communist.
That brings us to Obamacare, the single most hated GOP issue. Ten million more people with health insurance, most for the first time and tens of thousands of lives saved in a single year. Sure, the website didn't run too well for a month and that was covered ad nauseam on every news channel and pointed out by every member of the GOP around the clock, but when it comes to lives saved and made better? Crickets. Add to the obvious benefits that tens of thousands of bankruptcies and ruined lives that will be avoided. The media and the GOP went completely dark on the entire up-side. Apparently a lack of suffering doesn't make headlines.
On Obamacare, Krugman writes:
In fact, Year 1 surpassed expectations on every front. Remember claims that more people would lose insurance than gained it? Well, the number of Americans without insurance fell by around 10 million; members of the elite who have never been uninsured have no idea just how much positive difference that makes to people's lives. Remember claims that reform would break the budget? In reality, premiums were far less than predicted, overall health spending is moderating, and specific cost-control measures are doing very well. And all indications suggest that year two will be marked by further success.
While the GOP fought affordable health care every step of the way by delaying, trying to repeal it, blocking, and even shutting down the government in the name of liberty, human suffering, and needless deaths, Obamacare remains, for now, a reality.
The list of other things that Republicans were wrong about is fairly long, but here are a few that Krugman didn't get to that stand out. Marriage equality has been accepted by most of the country and children haven't magically become gay or started having sex with farm animals. Marijuana has been legalized for full use in two states and medical use in others and no cartels have taken over Midwestern towns -- in fact, drug cartels are out billions of dollars as a result. Obama's immigration policies haven't allowed swarms of illegal immigrants into the country with calves the size of cantaloupes and pregnant women from ISIS haven't dropped anchor babies on U.S. soil. Minimum wage has gone up in multiple states and corporations haven't moved to third world countries or had to apply for welfare. And you can now buy a Cuban cigar without being shot in the street.
All in all, despite the GOPs best efforts, things have gone pretty well and some significant things have been accomplished.
It's a new year though and the clown car about to be sworn in next week is bigger than ever with a majority in both the Senate and the House. A car full of gun loving, poor hating, veteran screwing, climate change denying, Wall Street deregulating, health care repealing, and wealthy old white man loving clowns. Their plans so far include repealing Dodd-Frank, cutting and privatizing social security, cutting pensions, defunding Obamacare, eliminating food stamps and welfare, raising taxes on the middle class and working poor, cutting taxes for the super-rich and corporations, and who knows how many other Benghazi, IRS, and impeachment hearings we'll have to endure. They have the numbers to do what they want and by this time next year we could be having a completely different conversation in a completely different country.
While it hasn't been a great year, I'm thankful that the GOP has provided me with the low hanging fruit only they are capable of providing and I'm looking forward to 2015 and the prospect of more ridiculous claims and comments.