As usual, my writing fell off throughout summer so hopefully with the change in season comes a rebirth of writing out my thoughts. Today a friend and co-worker brought in a column from the local paper that was written by a Northampton, MA M.D., a right winger. She was incensed at the contemptuous tone and narcissim he displayed. First of all, I want to share the link so you can read what this fella had to say: Jay Fleitman: Who writes this stuff? While I share Sandra's passion, I thought, "what the heck, this deserves a response." I think it's important to disclose I've never responded to a newspaper column before, but living in the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts, I haven't had much cause for rebuttal. Below, is what I will be submitting to the Daily Hampshire Gazette this evening.
I always find it entertaining when a so-called “conservative” such as Jay Fleitman accuses the left of the very things the right has been up to for years. He writes an entire article without any facts to back up his statements. Let’s look at his “points” one at a time.
1) I’m going to start with his “left wing think tanks” comment. While I know the right wing loves to point at George Soros, he is not organizing retreats like the ones the multi-billionaire Koch Brothers are. Every few months, the Koch’s arrange a little getaway where Republican governors convene to discuss how to crush the working class and further enrich the affluent. Do you think all the anti-union, anti-woman, anti-voting rights policies flooding out of the far right are coincidence? Really, do you? Never mind Rove’s groups, the Chamber of Commerce and any other easily searchable extremely organized "right wing think tank." Try the Google if you doubt this.
2) Then he denies the Tea Party and Republicans want to protect the rich and uses the U.S. corporate tax rates as an example of how tough it is for companies operating within our borders. What difference does it make what the tax rates are when the corporate loopholes in the tax codes allow companies like BOA and GE to pay no taxes at all? Meanwhile the current crop of GOP politicians are on record saying “entitlements” must be cut while Bush’s tax cuts that mainly benefit the top 2% must be sustained. Let me add that, using the word “entitlements” as a dirty word is a word play by the right to make it sound like these are freebies going out to the undeserving. All of us have paid into them our entire working lives so yes, we are entitled to them. Privatizing Social Security, turning Medicare into a voucher program and cutting funding to Medicaid does indeed end these programs, it does not “reform” them, another word play. Kind of like “job creators” has now replaced “the wealthy” in right wing lingo.
3) Much of our ills are Bush’s fault, at least those that aren’t Reagan’s. Reagan’s slashing of taxes in the 80’s coupled with massive deregulation was the beginning of the end of a balanced society where everyone could live the American Dream. His policies began the wealth disparity that we suffer from today. Not since the 20’s have we had such a wealth disparity, which led to the Great Depression. Check your local library where you’ll find some fascinating history books. Those who don’t learn by history are doomed to repeat it. GWB inherited a budget surplus that would have allowed us to be debt free in approximately 10 years, but instead decided a budget surplus meant we were paying too much in taxes, so in June of 2001, he signed his first tax cut. Then September 11 happened. Instead of rescinding the already signed tax cut, he started not one, but two wars, one which was started on the idiotic premise of non-existent WMD— “a web of misinformation designed to distract the minds of America with implausible silliness.” Then in 2003 at a time of war, signed another tax cut! Never in our history have we been at war and authorized tax cuts, it has been quite the opposite actually, including Republican presidents. Now the debt and deficit has exploded, but instead of undoing as much of Bush’s policies as possible, the right runs around screaming the sky is falling and tries convincing Americans through their corporate mouthpiece Fox News, that it’s their unemployed neighbors fault.
As far as Obama, I’m a supporter, but not a cheerleader. His reach across the aisle philosophy is a failure. It made sense early on, but after a few months, it should’ve been evident their game plan was to follow Rush Limbaugh’s playbook. How he ever thought reasoning with people who publicly declared their number one goal was to make him a one term president is beyond me. (By the way, those are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s words, not mine.) And anyone who watched unemployment benefits held hostage last winter in exchange for an extension of the Bush era tax cuts, or the debt ceiling debacle a couple months ago, with the Republicans demanding cut after cut without any revenue or the very fact that they ran on jobs and have not produced one single bill to address that dire need in this country, knows which party supports which group of constituents. (By the way, I am fine with all Bush era tax cuts going away if that’s what it takes to grow our economy.)
4) The size of the financial stimulus has been a matter of debate since its inception, not since last week. However, since Fox News doesn’t report anything factual, perhaps the writer was unaware of the fact that many economists questioned the size of the stimulus from the very start, as well as the wisdom of making 40% of it…tax cuts! Maybe the stimulus failed to keep unemployment under 8% (which was Paulson’s prediction, not Obama’s by the way), but it softened what would have undoubtly been a bigger blow to a sluggish economy. Ask people holding the three million jobs it saved if it was worth it.
5) Nobody thinks the Republican candidates are “political dwarfs”; however several of them are insane. Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, for example believe in Christian Dominionism, which is frightening in a country which was founded by people fleeing another country who was mandating a state run religion. Gingrich and Santorum? Ok I’ll give it up and call them political dwarfs. Romney and Huntsman are legitimate contenders being overshadowed by the lunatic fringe. They could win a general, but will not get the nomination because the tea party wants state run religion, they do not believe in science and applaud austerity.
6) And to say there is no racism in the tea party would be comical if you didn’t so hardily believe it. Which isn’t to say that every tea partier is a racist. Sorry none of us are saying that, no matter how badly you and right wing talking heads want to believe it. I’m glad your experiences have been positive, but again, use Google, or Bing if you prefer, if you don’t believe racism does exist within the group, and no, they are NOT liberal plants to make the tp’ers look bad, so don’t even use that tired argument. You’re living in a progressive state, where even though we may have disagreements, people are generally respectful of others. Not every part of the country behaves as such.
What your writing displayed was “intellectual and political bankruptcy” by also asserting that this movement was “spontaneously” started by a bunch of concerned Americans. To actually believe that and peddle it as truth is laughable. Who’s paying for the fancy tour buses with the $13K wraps? Who’s reserving the fancy hotels? Finally, the petty little liberal/progressive swipe doesn’t hold any water either. Conservatives have tried to redefine what a liberal/progressive is by calling us every negative incantation that Fox viewers can easily remember. Trust me; it IS cool to be a liberal. Read JFK’s eloquent quote and tell me what he got wrong. “Yes indeed the right needs some new material.”