Brezhnev Republicans

The diary below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal on January 8th. Although it reflects the news cycle of that period, recent events such as Karl Rove on the hot seat again and an emerging GOP prostitution scandal compelled me to re-post it. I'm also struck by how pessimistic I was about the future of American society following the GOP's inevitable demise. Today I'm far more optimistic that a true progessive reformation can be achieved.

The metastasizing Jack Abramoff scandal exposes the Republican Party as a centralized cabal of apparatchiks and commissars. They are a monolithic greed factory oozing with corruption and contempt for public service.

Once upon a time Republicans were guided by firm ideological convictions: reduce the size of government, strengthen national defense, and develop a culture of personal responsibility. Those convictions are now mere slogans designed to preserve the party's brand label and maintain power.

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Brainfingerprinting and Civil Liberties

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) otherwise known, as brain fingerprinting will revolutionize how governments worldwide administer security and criminal justice. The potential repercussions for privacy rights are devastating. In years to come governments as well as corporations will possess the tools to examine an individual's brain waves and attempt to determine if they're lying.

In effect, FMRIs are neural imaging of one's brain waves. The technology allows researchers to map the brain's neurons as they process thoughts, sensations, memories, and motor commands. Since debuting a decade ago, brain fingerprinting has facilitated transparency with the cognitive operations behind behavior such as feeling stimulated by music or recognizing a familiar face in a crowd.

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Anger Is Our Hammer of Justice

As a teenager in the 1980s, I listened to conservative talk radio host Bob Grant on WABC. That was the most hateful person I've ever heard. I remember one broadcast when a black gentleman called in and asked, "Mr. Grant why don't you just admit that you're prejudiced and hate blacks?" Grant snapped, "I am not prejudiced! Now get the hell off my phone you spade!"

Naïve idealist that I was, I called into to the Bob Grant show a few times. I actually believed I could engage this grown up in a civil conversation based upon facts and logic.

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My Liberal Fantasy: Russ Feingold's 2008 Nomination Acceptance Speech

Good evening, I love New York! Applause. Smiles broadly and waits for silence. And I proudly accept your nomination for President of the United States. Crowd erupts with sustained applause and cheers.

My friends, the time has come for an American renaissance of community, values, and justice. Almost seven years ago in this great city Osama Bin Laden unleashed his terror and the Republican Party unleashed a reign of indecency. Tonight we begin anew in the very city where it all went wrong. We bring hope.

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An Onion On Steroids

Exposing the truth about GOP rule is analogous to peeling off layers of an onion on steroids. This is quite apparent in two of the most important news items this past week: the January 2003 British memo reported by the New York Times and the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in which former Nixon aide John Dean, agreed with Senator Feingold about censuring President Bush.

First let's address the latest revelations from our friends in the United Kingdom. When you combine this memo with the original "Downing Street" memo one can't help but believe the worst. Bush and Blair shamelessly deliberated over how to "provoke" a confrontation with Saddam. This is reminiscent of Adolph Hitler conjuring up a pre-text to invade Poland in 1939. If that offends anyone - I don't care. What they did is a criminal act and dishonored my country.

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Our Immigration Conundrum

Our immigration policy resembles the ineffective war on drugs. For decades we've spent billions of dollars on interdiction and law enforcement yet trafficking only increases. Similarly, the federal government continues to increase spending on border patrol and enforcement to no avail. Indeed, in November 2005, the the Migration Policy Institute described how spending has increased since the passage of the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986(ICRA):

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Lancing the Boil

The conservative movement is irredeemable. What William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater launched decades ago was perverted into a corporate theocracy. In recent days, Kevin Phillips new book American Theocracy, has received much attention for his scholarly analysis of the movement's legacy. It's worth reading because Phillips also wrote The Emerging Republican Majority while working on the Nixon campaign. It was published a year later and proved prescient. This time Phillips documents the legacy of a movement he helped launch.

The rumblings of conservative intellectuals such as Phillips and Bruce Bartlett illustrate that the Republican crusade is sucking wind. Even President Reagan's former speechwriter Peggy Noonan openly asks whether Bush is a liberal.

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Grandpa Rosenberg's America

Recently I've been thinking of my grandfather. I didn't know him well because he died when I was 8. As I reflect upon his life, my memories of him and the numerous anecdotes I've been told - I can't help but wonder what he would think of our country today.

Irving Rosenberg's story resembles that of many immigrants from his generation. At the age of 16 he escaped Poland prior to Hitler's September 1939 invasion with his six brothers. His father was a man of great foresight and correctly diagnosed the storm that was brewing from Nazi Germany. My great grandmother opposed her children leaving for America and even chased my grandfather with a broomstick prior to his departure. Thankfully she didn't get her way or I never would've been born.

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Pro-Business Liberalism

This is a critical point. The Democratic Party is the party of business. The Republican Party is the party of corporate theocrats. - Matt

Too many liberals are reluctant to embrace the pro-business label. Meanwhile, the DLC Joe Lieberman types are really corporatists who claim to be pro-business. This contradiction places the Democratic Party in a hole because our political dialogue doesn't distinguish between those who are pro-business and corporatist. The distinction is important because the corporatist Republican Party has benefited from the perception that they are the pro-business party and the modest risk-taking entrepreneur has supported them against their own interests. Meanwhile, the Democrats are enduring the worst perceptions among voters from both wings of their party: liberals reluctance to identify with pro-business policies makes the party appear in favor of handouts while the DLC reinforces the suspicion among voters that the Democrats are just as corporatist as the Republicans. It's an odd contradiction and a rare feat of political ineptitude: the two wings of the party have managed to make Democrats appear socialist and corporatist at the same time.

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A Time For Boldness

The consequences of governance by delusional minds were vividly displayed this week.  On March 16th, the Republican-led Senate approved a $2.8 trillion election-year budget that broke spending limits only hours after it increased federal borrowing power to avert a government default.  Even more embarrassing, the Republican-led Senate increased the debt limit to nearly $9 trillion.

Confronted with elections this November, some Republicans opted to abandon their "starve the beast mentality" and joined with Democrats to approve more than $16 billion in added spending for social, military, job safety and home-heating programs, exceeding a ceiling established by President Bush.  Meanwhile, the House advanced $92 billion in war spending and hurricane recovery money.

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