Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Ducks Quack On

One down, one to go. The United States Congress is done for the year. Today the solons of the Michigan Legislature are scheduled to wrap up their post-election bill-a-thon. We'll be writing about their actions ... and inactions ... tomorrow after the dust settles.

Speaking Truth Has Consequences

The head of the U.M. Communications Department is in hot water for speaking her mind on the state of the national dialogue as represented by the GOP in Congress. She wrote a column titled "It's okay to hate Republicans" for a progressive website. The article spells out the horrendous policy imperatives of national Republicans which are, quite frankly, hateful.
Professor Susan Douglas makes just one error with the column: she talks about hating Republicans rather than hating their policies.
She writes "I can't stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform of championing fetal 'personhood.'"
Douglas and The Curmudgeon have something besides loathing of GOP policies in common: earlier in her life she worked for a Republican who was part of the rational wing of the party (does it exist anymore?). In her case, it was Republican state Senator Fred Lippitt of Rhode Island. In the case of The Curmudgeon, it was U.S. Senator Charles Percy of Illinois (a family friend who delivered the eulogy at funeral services for The Curmudgeon's father).
Typically the right wing at U.M., led by a member of the Board of Regents, Andrea Newman.
On her Facebook page, Newman calls the column "extremely troubling and offensive."
Newman is correct in stating that the column "expresses and condones hatred toward an entire segment of individuals in our society based solely on their political views" and shows a disrespect for "the right of others to hold views contrary to their own."
Gotta admit that people like Rush Limbaugh, most of Fox "News" and Ted Cruz make it easy to disdain all Republicans. But The Curmudgeon remembers, too, that there are still many Republicans who have good hearts and the best of intentions. Sadly too few of them survive Republican primaries, leaving us with non-stop hypocrites like John McCain (the king of policy flip-flops), total asshats like Darrell Issa and Ted Cruz, and mindless idiots like Michelle Bachmann, Louis Gohmert and Steve King.
But there are also thoughtful people who, although generally wrong on major issues, are a net plus for the competition of ideas that makes a democracy work. Retiring Michigan congressman Dave Camp and Mike Rogers are in this category. So are Rand Paul, Susan Collins, Rick Snyder and Brian Calley. Hell, even Bill Schuette (generally an asshat) occasionally gets something right.
So, Professor Douglas, hate the policies. Don't hate the entire class of people called "Republicans."

Religious "Freedom"

Think Jase Bolger's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" isn't about legalizing bigotry and discrimination? Heavens, no, cries Bolger's mouthpiece. It is about protecting "sincerely held
"Sincerely held beliefs" don't give you have the
right to inflict your stupidity on others
religious beliefs."
In reality, it is part of a national campaign among conservatives to reverse advances made in civil rights for people who don't think like them. The examples abound of conservatives urging folks to claim religious freedom as they discriminate against others.
In introducing his bill, the lame-duck Speaker of the House cited those poor bakery owners who might be "forced" to sell their products for use at a gay wedding, thus consigning the baker to eternal damnation in the fires of Hell.
"As more states have marriage that includes two men or two women, more people are going to be confronted with a decision: Do I follow my conscience, politely decline to participate in a same-sex celebration and be punished? Or do I surrender my freedom to live and work faithfully at the government's command?" – Greg Scott, spokesman for the Alliance Defending Freedom.
What if my "sincerely held belief" is that African-Americans are 3/5 human, and not deserving of sitting at my lunch counter? How about refusing to let a Jew or Muslim in my store because of my sincerely held belief that non-Christians are believers in a false God?
When you open a business, you are subject to government regulation. Don't like the idea? Then don't open a business.

The John Boehner Legacy

The 113th Congress is officially the least productive Congress in modern history, enacting 234 laws. Even the "Do-Nothing Congress" of 1947-1948 passed more than 900 laws. The second least-productive Congress? The 2011-12 Congress, which ended with 284 laws passed.
Now, Republicans are fond of complaining that the Senate is the problem with Harry Reid sitting on an unusual number of House-passed bills. Not true, according to The Fix at the Washington Post. The number of bills blocked in the Senate is about average. And a lot of the DOA bills achieved that status thanks to Republican filibusters which generally has gummed up the works since Democrats took (temporary) control of the Senate.
The John Boehner legacy: lots of noise, not many solutions. But at least they passed about 40 bills repealing Obamacare.

Other Blogs You Need To Read

There are many great blogs out there. Two of them should be on your "must subscribe" list
Eclectablog has a staff of first-rate writer/reporters that cover Michigan politics and policy like a blanket. There are multiple daily posts that often uncover news you will read there first.

Democracy Tree is the work of my Michigan PoliCast colleague Amy Kerr Hardin. Hard-hitting, well researched, and always intriguing. Read it.

And, while you are at it, subscribe to Michigan Policast, a weekly political commentary recorded by Amy, Christine Barry (most recently with Blogging for Michigan) and The Curmudgeon.

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