Liars or Cowards?

     With unemployment pushing 10 percent, a Republican senator is blocking a vote on the appointment of a Nobel Prize-winning economist to the Federal Reserve Board, because, Sen. Richard Shelby says, Peter Diamond is “unqualified” for the job.
     One of Diamond’s specialties is unemployment.
     He was awarded the Nobel Prize for it this week.
     One of Diamond’s former students, Ben Bernanke, is the head of the Federal Reserve.
     Sen. Shelby, by the way, has held up more than 70 appointments this year to extort the president for $35 billion in defense contracts for Alabama.
     But wait, there’s more.
     Every daily newspaper in New York City this week had front-page stories about three men who were tortured because they are homosexual.
     The day after those screaming headlines, the Republican candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, made a speech in which he called homosexuals “disgusting.”
     Think about this for a minute.
     A tremendous flock of Republicans, and their gauleiters in the Tea Party, insist that a Muslim cultural center should be barred from New York City because it’s 2 blocks from the World Trade Centers site. That’s too close, the Party says. It’s a question of proximity.
     What about the proximity of Paladino’s vulgar statement to the torture of three people?
     How about barring enforcement of the Second Amendment within 2 blocks of a school shooting?
     Or does the Constitution allow its First Amendment – but not its Second – to be revoked because of the “proximity clause”?
     Since we’re counting things, let’s count this.
     Since President Obama was inaugurated, Courthouse News has recorded 106 lawsuits in which black workers say they were threatened by nooses hung in their workplace.
     In the 4 years of President George W. Bush’s second term, CNS reported 101 such threats.
     That’s an increase of 131 percent in the rate of workplace threats of racial violence since the inauguration of our first black president.
     In Bush’s first term, CNS reported 36 noose threats. In the past year and half, that rate of workplace threats of violence has increased by 670 percent.
     Everyone knows that U.S. politics has gotten extremely ugly since President Obama took office. I thought his election might cool off the Republicans, as their slurs and obstruction would reveal the party as the last bastion for American racists which it is.
     But the Republicans outfoxed me. Obama is not Negro, it turns out; he’s “socialist.” He is not black, he won’t show us his birth certificate. He’s not a communist; he’s a “Muslim.”
     It’s clear to anyone with eyes and ears that the Republicans are unleashing the racism and violence that always have been a part of American life. They are dragging out of their coffins the stinking corpses of McCarthyism and the John Birch Society.
     It’s just as clear that the Republicans in Congress are willing to harm the country if they think it will help them get elected. There is no other explanation for Sen. Shelby’s hold on Peter Diamond’s confirmation.
     There is no other real explanation for why we went to war in Iraq.
     Almost as pathetic as the racist hatred that the Republican Party is unleashing is the spinelessness with which the Democratic Party has received it.
     Republicans feel free to use ugly and vicious language. Democrats can’t even bring themselves to use plain language.
That’s pathetic.
     Given a choice between voting for something and voting for nothing, most people will vote for something. Even if it’s wrong. Even if it’s a fantasy. Even if it’s vicious and ugly.
     That’s why the Democratic Party is in trouble.
     In the 1950s and ’60s, some Republicans the courage to stand up to the racists and neo-fascists in their own party. No more. The Republicans have become a party of cowards, hate-mongers and liars.
     But the Democratic Party is just a bunch of cowards.

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