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The Big Party
The GOP has a role model

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
November 22, 2010

It's one thing for Mitch McConnell, minority leader of the Senate, to say that Republicans must deny Obama any and all policy victories in order to injure his chances of reelection. It's slimy, and it shows that the Republicans are prepared to default on their constitutional roles as deliberators in a democratically elected Congress, and it shows a party that knows it doesn't really have public support and is prepared to sabotage and strong arm to get its way.

That's pretty pathetic.

But now the Republicans in the Senate are blocking passage of the new START treaty that Obama signed with the Russians last April.

That goes beyond sleazy and pathetic, and goes into the realm of unpatriotic and injurious to the country.

The deal with the Russians—which several Republican Senators including John Kyl and Robert Kagan along with other big Republican names such as Henry Kissinger and Richard Lugar helped to forge—would limit the US and Russian to each having “only” 1,505 warheads.

This doesn't exactly leave America defenseless; you can do a lot of damage with just one nuclear warhead, such as wiping out a medium-sized city. Fifteen hundred of them would put a serious dent in somebody's property values if deployed.

It's why it's a bit hard to take the fear mongers who natter about Iran or North Korea all that seriously. With just 1,500 warheads, the US could, within twenty minutes, reduce BOTH countries to plains of slowly bubbling black glass, uninhabitable for 50,000 years. The technical term for this is deterrence. For either country, lobbing a nuke at the US—or anybody else—would be suicide. A half dozen nukes would utterly destroy the economy of either country, and kill millions.

So American security doesn't play a role in this. It's not like the good old days when America had 15,000 nukes, and it didn't matter if the rockets were accurate or not, because America didn't even have to LAUNCH in order to poison and kill all chordate life on earth.

Those days are no longer needed, and can be thankfully consigned to the dustbin of history.

The big bad Soviet Union has gone away, and for some reason, Russia barely registers on American radar. Given that Russia is a large, first-world nation with vast resources and reserves, that's probably not a wise stance. Russia will eventually emerge from the shackles of gangster capitalism (the US seems intent on replacing it in that role) and when that happens, Russia will be a force to be reckoned with. So the American attitude isn't particularly well-reasoned.

But it is the present attitude with the American public, and it means there is no public outcry against the treaty at all. Nobody, not even the Birchers, are howling that America is “kowtowing to the Russkis”. Nobody is afraid of Russia, which, after 45 years of cold war, is nice. Nobody respects them, which is stupid.

The Pentagon strongly supports the treaty. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, said yesterday that the Senate needs to expedite the treaty ASAP. Citing Russian response to the lack of transparency and unpredictability the Senate blockade would cause, he said, “there's a sense of urgency that I think -- and there's an opportunity to get this done now. And from a national security perspective, I really believe we need to do that.” In another interview, with Christine Amanpour over at ABC, the following exchange occurred:

MULLEN: This is a national security issue… From a national security perspective this is absolutely critical.

AMANPOUR: …Is the Senate playing politics with American national security?

MULLEN: You would have to ask the Senate … What I think is – there is a sense of urgency with respect to ratifying this treaty that needs to be recognized. Historically this has been bipartisan. This is a national security issue of great significance and the sooner we get it done the better.

AMANPOUR: In a lame duck session?

MULLEN: As soon as possible.

AMANPOUR: In In a lame duck session?

MULLEN: The potential is there for lame duck.

AMANPOUR: And you would want that?

MULLEN: That’s the soonest possible time, absolutely.

Mullen just all but questioned the Republican Party's commitment to national security. There are significant benefits to the treaty, quite aside from the elimination of the “killing all chordate life on earth” thing. The treaty allows for modernization of the arsenals including stronger safeguards against fissionable material falling into the wrong hands.

Nor is the Republican excuse that work remains to be done and details hammered out valid. The committees have already vetted it, and indeed most of the work on the treaty was concluded even before Obama signed it last April. All that remains is the ratification vote.

Kyl, who already got concessions totaling $11.4 billion, is saying that more needs to be done on funding modernization. But the fact is that with or without the treaty, the US has already committed $180 billion to modernization of its nuclear arsenal. That's a staggering sum, given that the US will never benefit from actual use of the product. Most of our nukes, and worse, our nuclear facilities, were built during the cold war, and some in the early 1950s. While any rational person would want to get rid of all nukes altogether, that just isn't going to happen, and so nuclear deterrence—the main reason we've not yet had a World War Three—remains our best and only hope.

Curiously, Kyl hasn't mentioned any specifics as to what more needs to be done. In fact, he hasn't even offered vague generalities, and I suspect that if pressed, he wouldn't be able to come up with any reasons not to vote for the treaty as it now stands.

McConnell and the GOP leadership have vowed to deny Obama any and all policy victories, no matter how advantageous they may be to the country as a whole.

Further, they have sworn to attach their agenda to any and all bills; they are already insisting that a tax cut of $30 billion a year for the country's 400 wealthiest individuals be continued in order to extend by $12 billion the unemployment checks for people who may be living off those checks and nothing else. Quite a deal, huh? $12 billion for the hundreds of thousands of people who most desperately need it, against $30 billion for people who are already the least heavily taxed of any economic elite in the world. According to the Teabaggers, this is how you go about “restoring government to the people.” According to the GOP, this is how you fight the deficit. Seriously, dude.

Paul Krugman today wrote a column entitled “There will be Blood”. In it, he said, “It’s hard to see how this situation is resolved without a major crisis of some kind...there will be blood sooner or later. And we can only hope that the nation that emerges from that blood bath is still one we recognize.”

The Republicans seem convinced that, with just enough propaganda, and an utterly shameless belief that in persistent lying a strange pseudo-truth can be manufactured, they can keep a rein on the situation. It doesn't matter how much the American people, or America itself suffers, as long as they get their way.

The have a model to work from: the old Soviet Union. The government put party ahead of country, just as the GOP now does. They believed that as long as they controlled the information people get, they could control the people, and the GOP, whilst living off the largess of Rupert Murdoch and Sun Myung Moon, are busily trying to destroy what they call “liberal media” which is basically any outlet that doesn't hew to the party line. They believe, like the Soviets, that a deeply flawed and corrupt economic model will eventually work, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Since the 1950s and Congressmen Richard Milhous Nixon and Joseph McCarthy, the GOP have been “the cold war warriors”. But the Cold War ended twenty years ago, and for all the vilification they can muster, the Islamic religion just isn't as effective as the evil genius in the latest narrative. And little countries like North Korea and Iran hardly work at all.

So the GOP has become subsumed, and, as often happens in politics, become an exact mirror image of that which it hates and fears the most. It has become the Soviet Union.

And just as Stalin cared little for the damage he did to his country in order to support an ideology and lust that was unsustainable, so the Republicans have followed in his footsteps. They no longer care about America, or Americans.

The Party comes first.

Posted: November 27, 2010

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