Philosopher George Santayana famously remarked, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." With this thought in mind, how many readers are old enough to recall the Watergate scandal, a series of presidential crimes and coverups which led to the resignation of Richard "I am not a crook" Nixon on August 9, 1974 (the only resignation by a U.S. president)? One feature of Nixon's deviousness, paranoia, and disregard for the protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution was his famous enemies list, whose official purpose was "to 'screw' Nixon's political enemies, by means of tax audits from the Internal Revenue Service, and by manipulating 'grant availibility, federal contracts, litigation, prosecution, etc.'" The original list of 20 names was subsequently expanded to include an additional 576 individuals. As the black and dishonorable nature of the Nixon administration revealed itself, people singled out for inclusion on the enemies list came to consider it a positive achievement to be grouped among those who spoke out to defend civil liberties and free speech.
Fast-forward to 2011. Marie Diamond reports that "In recent weeks GOP congresmen have resorted to all sorts of underhanded schemes to avoid interacting with their angry constituents back home over August recess. Now two Republican freshmen, Reps. Daniel Webster (R-FL) and Tim Griffin (R-AR), are taking this trend one step further, using distributed intimidation tactics and 'watch lists' to discourage constituents from asking them questions .... While Webster and Griffin are ostensibly making these lists to screen out paid activists, the people they are targeting are regular constituents who have simply spoken up and expessed their disagreement about important policy decisions."
On one level, is it profoundly disturbing that such draconian tactics are still a part of the conservative public relations strategy. On another level, I suppose their consistency is oddly reassuring ~ at least we know what to expect. It's a shame that these and other Republicans who have held the nation hostage for months through obstructionism and stonewalling vital legislation, appear not to remember their own recent history, and thus are condemned to repeat it. The losers? The American public.
The article GOP Losing Latino Voters with Immigration Politics suggests that perhaps intentional deception and myopia go hand in hand. By playing to fears that the U.S.-Mexico border is insecure and out of control (when in fact the border has never been more secure), rather than addressing the real issue of what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country (immigrants who contribute to the U.S. economy by providing cheap labor and who, incidentally, possess a strong work ethic and clear family values), Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot. Deporting such a large chunk of the work force is economically and logistically self-defeating. It would make more sense to offer amnesty, conditional upon these immigrants either obtaining temporary work permits, or applying for and becoming American citizens. It is clear that for generations, Mexican immigrants have wanted to do just that. Whatever happend to "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"?
None of which in any way deflects from the reality of increased violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. But that violence stems from drug trafficking (into the U.S.) and gun trafficking (into Mexico). In fact, high-ranking U.S. officials in the Justice Department and ATF have been implicated in escalating the violence. Clearly U.S. foreign and domestic policy deserve close scrutiny before certain Republican presidential contenders start blowing smoke to bolster their images to the voters.
One such contender, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, just can't seem to help himself. Smoke and mirrors are this man's stock in trade. Take his "jobs miracle", for instance. He claims credit for the relatively rosy employment rate in Texas, compared to the rest of the nation, and assures us that he can translate that "miracle" to the nation as a whole. In point of fact, most of those new jobs in Texas are an artifact. "The bulk of new jobs in Texas were actually government jobs as the state itself grew population-wise. The population of Texas has risen almost 21% over the course of the last decade and these new residents require government services as a matter of course." Texas miracle? Texas b.s., more like it.
So we have deception, myopia, aiding and abetting criminal behavior. What about lack of accountability? President Bush has still not clearly answered on 9/11 with the order to shoot down commercial airliners on that day ~ and new information calls into question his claims. Given that George Bush is a pathological liar (encouraged by fellow conspirators Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld), and given that his manipulations got us into two catastrophic wars and nearly bankrupted the nation, it then comes as not surprise that Bush would dearly love to rewrite the history of the tragic day which launched his ascendancy in the White House. The article provides a riveting account of incompetence, confusion, and evasion of responsibility, panic responses similar to those depicted in the movie United 93. Ultimately, it falls upon those rare individuals steeped in integrity and courage to salvage the day. Such individuals are, among politicians, exceedingly rare. Add dedication to the Constitution, and you've eliminated many Democrats and nearly all Republicans. The twin corruptors, power and greed, have blinded our elected officials at all levels of government to their true mission ~ to serve the people.