What do we find in our Sunday newspaper this morning? An opinion piece that conflates the Koch brothers and Pope Francis as being on the same page.
It is clear, we are told, that the Koch Brothers and the pope (who by golly the writers have met) are fighting the same fight–the “preferential option for the poor.”
The authors are John and Carol Saeman, fawning friends and moneyed allies of the Koch brothers, the benevolent pair who oppose climate change legislation and Affordable Health Care, using their billions to support the Tea Party and other ultra right-wing causes, and to control American politics and election outcomes. This ‘umble opinion piece is topped off by photographs of the brothers, David and Charles, flanking Pope Francis.
Yea, as we walk through the valley of American fear, the Koch brothers are our saviors. Progressive social programs, welfare and anything else created since the New Deal are the enemy. No mention of Democrats, or the name of the president, just code–“centralization” and “bureaucrats…collude to protect politically favored companies and crowd out competitors.”
“This phenomenon isn’t found only in Third World Dictatorships. It’s increasingly evident in Washington….”
Not to worry, the Koch brothers are here. “We believe the Kochs are doing more to help the poor than the “social justice” campaigners who so often attack them.”
It is a strange argument and, at the least, difficult to believe.
More about the Koch Brothers?
Faced with the tense situation that had developed in suburban St. Louis. President Obama performed decisively, even historically, on Thursday. His actions were so subtle that few people acknowledged or credited his role. The chain of events:
I expressed my concern over the violent turn that events have taken on the ground, and underscored that now is the time for all of us to reflect on what’s happened, and to find a way to come together going forward. He is going to be traveling to Ferguson. He is a good man and a fine governor, and I’m confident that, working together, he is going to be able to communicate his desire to make sure that justice is done….
Despite calls for federalizing the National Guard, no boots were needed on the ground here either.
Within hours, the governor, described as taciturn and avoiding the situation (he had been en route to the Missouri State Fair), diverted to St. Louis and appointed an African-American State Police Captain, Ronald Johnson, to take over policing.
Everything changed. Reporters, including Wesley Lowery, the Washington Post writer who had been arrested by police a day earlier, tweeted they had seen an immediate turnaround. This from the Washington Post:
As a result, the heavy riot armor, the SWAT trucks with sniper posts and the gas masks were gone from the streets of Ferguson Thursday night, and Johnson marched with the crowd, eliciting cheers from the protesters. Johnson vowed to not blockade the streets, to set up a media staging center, and to ensure that residents’ rights to assemble and protest were not infringed upon.
“I’m not afraid to be in this crowd,” Johnson declared to reporters.
Captain Johnson, who is African-American and grew up in the area, said: “We’re just starting today anew. We’re starting a new partnership today. We’re going to move forward today, to put yesterday and the day before behind us.”
A New York Times Editorial acknowledged the change, but only said “higher authorities” had wisely prevailed.
Higher authorities wisely stepped into the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., on Thursday after a night that startled the nation with images of police overkill: flash grenades, rubber bullets and huge clouds of tear gas fired at demonstrators protesting the police shooting Saturday of an unarmed black teenager.
Gov. Jay Nixon — after keeping a low profile for too long — made an urgent tour of the town and replaced local police officers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He gave the Highway Patrol an order that should have been given over the weekend: Let protesters who are angry about the shooting protest peacefully, without aggressive demands to disperse, as is their constitutional right.
The change in temperature? Organized quietly, plain, simple and with surgical precision, by the President of the United States. Did anyone happen to notice?
Posted on September 4, 2013 by Laurie Garrett
So it is inevitable that nine years later, amid chatter of U.S. cruise missile launches to take out Syrian government military stockpiles I should revisit the sorry history of Bush’s drumbeats of war.
The public gets what it wants every two years. Will there be prolonged hearings, will the Republican Congress pursue a witch hunt, or will it fear blow-back in 2014 elections?
From the New York Times (Jonathan Weisman):
WASHINGTON — The investigations ensnaring the White House have unified the Republican Party, energized a political base shattered by election losses and given common purpose to lawmakers divided over a legislative agenda.
The most pressing question for Congressional Republicans is no longer how to finesse changes to immigration law or gun control, but how far they can push their cases against President Obama without inciting a backlash of the sort that has left them staggering in the past.
In the knee-jerk fraud that masquerades as a Republican alternative, the latest pseudo-drama inside the Beltway will be the sanctimonious months of Congressional hearings about a non-existent conspiracy at the Internal Revenue Service. Faced with real issues — immigration, health care, gun reform, electoral reform, among them — the wing-nuts that control the House of Representatives have a new excuse to do worse than nothing.
The real agenda is to attack their Democratic opponents, especially the president, and increasingly the leading presidential candidate for 2016, Hillary Clinton.
Succinctly stated, all of this, in a New York Times editorial:
Inevitably, the stumble by the I.R.S. will now be used by the Republicans as a point of attack. They are gleefully promising months of hearings, and the National Republican Congressional Committee is already trying to tarnish Democratic lawmakers with what it calls “the Obama administration’s use of the I.R.S. as a political tool.”
This will serve as the perfect distraction from issues, like the budget, gun control or immigration reform. And it will probably prevent any real progress on campaign finance reform, which, in turn, will make it vastly more difficult for the I.R.S. to prevent abuse of the tax code.
The I.R.S. stumble, if it is one, comes as a result of a highly partisan flawed and democracy-damaging decision by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case. The I.R.S. began to investigate whether right-wing nonprofits claiming tax exemption were really political fronts for the Republicans who placed the Supreme Court majority on the bench so it could make the damaging decision. “Oh no,” meanwhile, cries the Tea Party, “we’re nonpartisan.”
All of this works very well as long as straight-thinking citizens pay little heed, not even the 22 minutes needed to watch The Daily Show, to check out the sad humor of it all.
I don’t know about you — but it becomes increasingly difficult to even read or watch the news from Washington — so predictable as it is. A moderate majority of citizens appears to have given up. We are left with a Senate tilted to low-population states, a House built by a Republican minority that stacked the deck state by state.
Two of the prime deck-stackers, the Koch Brothers, by the way, are now trying to purchase the Los Angeles Times and the rest of the Chicago Tribune’s assets. Then, they’ll even be able to control the message better than they already have.
Failing broader outrage from a gerrymandered public, laughter and mockery is probably the best way to go.