Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Conservatives Shut Down "Their" America


Until today we haven't posted anything on the Shutdown, and we've found two pieces that are the final word, "To Understand the Shutdown You Have to Grasp the Mindset of the GOP Base" by Joshua Holland at Billmoyers.com and "30 Ways the Shutdown Is Already Screwing People" by Tim Murphy at Alternet.org.

First, "To Understand the Shutdown You Have to Grasp the Mindset of the GOP Base.":

Supporters of Americans For Prosperity and other TEA Party members.


"It’s widely understood that the government has been shut down by a relatively small number of Republican lawmakers who represent deeply red districts. They’re insulated from public opinion at large. They don’t fear a general election loss to a Democrat; they’re motivated by avoiding a primary challenger from their right flank.

"So to fully understand what’s driving the Republican Party’s brinkmanship, one has to look at the motivations of its base voters – how they see the world around them. This lies at the heart of what’s happening in the Capitol today.

"Democracy Corps – a Democratic-leaning polling firm – released a study this week based on a series of focus groups they conducted with loyal Republican voters. They divided them up into three sub-groups which together represent the base of the party. Evangelicals represent the largest group, followed by Republicans who identify with the tea party movement. 'Moderates,' the third group, make up about a quarter of the party’s base, according to the pollsters.

"Fear of a changing society is one thing that unites all three factions. The battle over Obamacare, write the study’s authors, 'goes to the heart of Republican base thinking about the essential political battle.'
"They think they face a victorious Democratic Party that is intent on expanding government to increase dependency and therefore electoral support. It starts with food stamps and unemployment benefits; expands further if you legalize the illegals; but insuring the uninsured dramatically grows those dependent on government. They believe this is an electoral strategy — not just a political ideology or economic philosophy. If Obamacare happens, the Republican Party may be lost, in their view. 
"And while few explicitly talk about Obama in racial terms, the base supporters are very conscious of being white in a country with growing minorities. Their party is losing to a Democratic Party of big government whose goal is to expand programs that mainly benefit minorities. Race remains very much alive in the politics of the Republican Party. 
"They worry that minorities, immigrants, and welfare recipients now believe it is their 'right' to claim [public] benefits. Tea Party participants, in particular, were very focused on those who claim 'rights' in the form of government services, without taking responsibility for themselves.
"They are also unified in their belief that Obama is a usurper who has hoodwinked the public into re-electing him by hiding his true beliefs, which are essentially Marxist. They also think that Democrats have won the major political battles of our time because Republican legislators in Washington didn’t put up a fight.

"But there are also deep divisions within the base, according to the analysis. Evangelicals still focus overwhelmingly on social issues. They think gay rights are the biggest threat to our society, but they also worry about the loss of what they see as an idyllic small-town culture. They feel besieged as the cultural ground shifts beneath them, and see themselves as a beleaguered, 'politically incorrect' minority.


"Tea partiers display a libertarian streak, and are far less concerned with social issues. They are staunchly pro-business. But there’s an easy alliance between these two groups – which make up well over half of the GOP base – because Evangelicals think the tea partiers are fighting back, and vice versa.

"Both groups displayed a high level of paranoia, according to the researchers who conducted the study. They noted that this was the first time, in many years of conducting focus groups, that participants worried that their participation might trigger surveillance by the NSA or an audit by the IRS. In addition to thinking that Obama is a liar, and a covert Communist, these two groups were also more likely to express the belief that he is secretly a Muslim.

"The moderates were, as one might expect, quite different. Like the tea partiers, they don’t worry as much about social issues. Their concerns are traditionally conservative – they worry about excessive regulation and taxation. They have a hard time taking Fox News seriously, and hold a deep disdain for the tea party faction. They are also keenly aware of their waning influence within the coalition.
"Moderates are not so sure about their place in the current Republican Party. They worry about the ability of Republicans in Congress to make government work. They believe the party is stuck, not forward-looking, and representative of old ideas. They worry about the Republican Party’s right turn on social and environmental issues — which makes it difficult, especially for young moderates — to view the Republican Party as a modern party.
"Unlike the tea partiers and Evangelicals, the moderate faction desperately wants lawmakers in Washington to find a common middle ground. They are less likely to worry about unauthorized immigration than the rest of the base, and some went so far as to speak positively about immigrants’ contributions to our society and economy.

"Climate change is another dividing line between moderate Republicans and the hard-right. GOP moderates may be unsure of the science on climate change, but they don’t reject it out of hand, and some are legitimately worried about the effects of a changing climate.

"In this, they stand out from the Evangelical and tea party wings. The study’s authors write:
"Moderates are not even in the same conversation as Evangelicals who deeply doubt scientists writ large and Tea Party Republicans who are consumed by the big government and regulations that inevitably result from climate science. 
"Evangelicals and Tea Party Republicans share and are consumed by skepticism about climate science — to the point where they mistrust scientists before they begin to speak.
"The whole study is fascinating. You can read it here.


("Joshua Holland is a senior digital producer for BillMoyers.com. He’s the author of The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything Else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know about Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America) (Wiley: 2010), and host of Politics and Reality Radio. Follow him on Twitter or drop him an email at hollandj [at] moyersmedia [dot] com.")


The second piece first appeared in Mother Jones Magazine, "30 Ways the Shutdown Is Already Screwing People.":


"The government shutdown is already wreaking havoc on the lives of Americans.

"The federal government entered shutdown mode at midnight on Monday, after Congress failed to pass a continuing resolution that would keep departments and agencies up and running. Though some Republicans have dismissed the immediate impact of the shutdown, quite a lot of people have already been affected.

"Here's a quick guide:

"Kids with cancer: 30 children who were supposed to be admitted for cancer treatment at the National Institute of Health's clinical center were put on hold, along with 170 adults.


"Head Start kids: When a new grant didn't come in, Bridgeport, Connecticut, closed 13 Head Start facilities serving 1,000 kids. Calhoun County, Alabama, shut down its Head Start program, which serves 800 kids. Some were relocated to a local church.

"Pregnant women: Several states had promised to pick up the tab if the US Department of Agriculture stopped funding the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)—but not Arkansas, where 85,000 meals will no longer be provided to low income women and their children.

"Babies: 2,000 newborn babies won't receive baby formula in Arkansas, due to those WIC cuts.

"People who help pregnant women and babies: The 16 people who administer the WIC program in Utah will be furloughed—in order to free up money to continue funding the program.


"Whales: The Marine Mammal Commission, which monitors whale populations, is on hiatus.

"63-year-old Jo Elliott-Blakeslee: The shutdown of Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho has complicated the search for a woman who went missing in the park.

"Military suicide prevention: Palm Beach, Florida, television station WPTV profiled Rosemarie Spencer, a contractor with the US Army Suicide Prevention Program who was furloughed on Tuesday.

"Virginia: 2,000 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard were sent home on Tuesday, and commissaries in northeast and southeast Virginia, which provide inexpensive groceries to members of the military, closed on Wednesday.

"Firefighters: The Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Field Office in Colorado says its ability to respond to a fire is 'severely limited.'


"Firefighter widows: Heidi Adams, whose husband, Token, was killed investigating a fire in New Mexico last month, won't receive survivor benefits because there's no one at the National Forest Service to finalize the paperwork.

"Fishermen: National Park Service blocked all access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.

"Domestic-violence centers: Facilities in Vermont and Montana stopped receiving reimbursement payments.

"People who eat food: Eight thousand employees at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention were furloughed, including those tasked with monitoring the outbreak of foodborne illnesses.

"People who cook food: The USDA's food safety hotline has stopped fielding calls from people with questions about food storage and safe preparation.

"Animal-semen exporters: The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports, "No one in Louisiana will be able export livestock, embryos, fertilized animal eggs or animal semen." Animal semen? Yup, the USDA monitors that too.

"College students: Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and federal work study programs are officially on ice, as of Tuesday.


"Bookworms: Arizona's Marine Corps Air Station Yuma closed on-base facilities including a library, day care center, youth activity center, and pool.

"Park rangers: 686 of Alaska's 750 National Park Service employees are staying home.

"First responders: The Department of Homeland Security's Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, which trains first responders for states and municipalities, is closed.

"Golfers: The Moffet Field Golf Course near Mountain View, California, is closed due to furloughs at the NASA facility where the 18-hole course is located.

"Poor Louisianans: The state Commodities Supplemental Food Program, which serves 64,000 people each month, doesn't have the funds to operate.

"People with mysterious illnesses: The Undiagnosed Diseases Program at the National Institutes of Health has stopped accepting new patients, with the exception of children with life-threatening illnesses.


"Meningitis researchers: A University of Hawaii research facility shut down.

"Newt Gingrich: The former speaker of the House decried the closure of a 'tour bus turnaround' at Mt. Vernon:


"Antique-car lovers: The Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Mississippi, canceled its 'Cruisin the Coast' car festival.

"Native Americans: The Department of Health and Human Services cut off funding to the Urban Indian Health Programs, which offer dental treatment, primary care access, and substance abuse programs.

"Football players: All athletic activities at service academies have been postponed, including Saturday's Navy-Air Force football game.

"Goats: 50 Nubian goats, tasked with eating poison ivy at a New Jersey historical site, were furloughed.

"Klansmen: A planned march in Gettysburg by the Confederate Knights of the KKK was canceled because the national battlefield park is closed.


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Whether from the Conservative leadership, their propagandists, or their Sheeplets, the Conservatives will inflict any amount of harm, pain, illness - or death - to the most vulnerable of their own people, as long as the hunger of the leadership for complete power is satisfied.

We may as well call them for what they are: a cross between animals and disgusting, murderous criminals.








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“[In the Universe it may be that] Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is
fairly rare. Some would say it has yet to occur on Earth.”

Stephen Hawking.


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