25 May 2011


A news report surfaced over the weekend which is profoundly disburbing -- so disturbing that it merits an extended quote here.

"Amy Myers is a pretty, 16-year-old Cherry Hill High School East sophomore and an aspiring veterinarian. She is a critic of Minnesota Congresswoman [and 2012 presidential hopeful, image above] Michele Bachmann. Amy is also concerned for her personal safety.

"She wrote a letter to Bachmann dated April 29. Together with her father, she posted it to CNN's iReport on May 6. It didn't take long for news outlets to pick up the story. In it, she criticized the Tea Party caucus leader. She challenged Bachmann to a constitutional debate, [stating] 'I have found quite a few of your statements regarding the Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied, or grossly distorted.'

"In fact, many liberals and progressives have questioned the educational background of women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. How do you get through high school not knowing the things that they don't know? Where do the weird and bizarre notions they hold originate? Perhaps it is not so much our educational system as some people (Palin, Bachmann, O'Donnell, Angle, et al) not paying attention in class.

"Myers also addressed Bachmann's obligations and responsibilities as a woman -- 'As one of a handful of women in Congress, you hold a distinct privilege and responsibility to better represent your gender nationally. The statements you make help to serve an injustice to not only the position of Congresswoman, but women everywhere.'

"The reaction to Myers' letter has been nothing short of terrifying. 'A lot of them are calling me a whore' .... Amy and her father said the comments from conservative websites alarmed them most. Some commenters threatened to publish her home address. Others threatened violence. Some threatened rape .... because she challenged the Tea Party goddess

" .... The Tea Party has made much of 'strong' women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. The narrative is that any opposition to the gross factual distortions and dishonesty of these women is founded on jealousy or misogyny or that those critics are threatened by strong women .... But the anti-American Tea Party is also anti-woman, and they don't want any women, including feisty 16-year-olds, to bust the formulaic requirements of ideology over fact, ignorance over education, and dishonesty over honesty. The Tea Party message is clear: there is no future for women who do not agree to sell their soul.

" .... [Criticism of elected officials] is not a crime. Violence and rape are. Ignorance of the U.S. Constitution by elected officials ought to be."

I recall on May 4, 1970, when I first heard the news of the murder of Kent State students by the Ohio National Guard, thinking, "My god, we're killing our children." Malicious conservative brutality is still with us, when a young girl is threatened with violence and rape for exercising her right to free speech. What are they so desperately afraid of?

And how do they get away with such blatant hypocrisy, on so many levels? Witness another news report which points out one of many instances of legislative extortion on Capitol Hill -- "After pushing the government to the brink of shutdown, Republican Congressional leaders are now preparing to push America to the edge of default by refusing to increase the nation's debt limit without first getting Democrats to concede to large spending cuts. But while the four Republicans in Congressional leadership positions are attempting to hold the increase hostage now, they combined to vote for a debt increase 19 times during the presidency of George W. Bush. In doing so, they increased the debt limit by nearly $4 trillion."

The party of alleged fiscal conservatism actually is the party of gross fiscal mismanagement. Democratic President Bill Clinton left office with the nation enjoying a budget surplus. Republican George W. Bush quickly turned that into a monumental debt, mostly through tax breaks for the wealthy and through shady dealings with Wall Street bankers, big oil, and through war-mongering.

Let's examine the contrast between the two parties through a different lens. Here is a table showing the gross U.S. debt since World War II, broken down by the president in office. Notice in particular column 1 (the president), column 2 (party affiliation), and column 7 (the increase or decrease in our national debt as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, or GDP). Consistently, during Democratic administrations, our national debt leveled off or decreased. During Republican administrations, our national debt increased. (See chart below -- the pink portions of the timeline depict Republican presidencies, the blue portions Democrats.)

There is a simple reason -- government exists to serve the people, through social services, infrastructure, consumer protection, environmental protection, and national defense. These services cost money, which we pay for in taxes. Republicans seek to reduce spending which benefits the people, while allowing the wealthy to escape their fair tax contribution toward supporting the government. So who shoulders the financial burden, while receiving fewer services? The 95% of us who are not wealthy. But since the non-wealthy cannot afford as large a contribution, the national debt increases.

Democrats, on the other hand, seek to hold the wealthy accountable, while providing the non-wealthy with the services to which they are entitled. The national debt decreases.

It appears that Tea Party members aren't the only ones who slept through government and civics classes.

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