The Lion King

By Jean Hodgkinson

Dressed in the lion’s skin, the ass spread terror far and wide -Jean de La Fontaine

The aftermath of last week’s Republican defeat supplied late-night TV with plenty of comedic fodder as the conservative spin machine attempted to make sense of the facts, something it doesn’t do very often. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC (the left-leaning response to Fox News) rattled off a list of successful ballot initiatives (Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana), Senate victories (Elizabeth Warren takes back Massachusetts for the Dems) and of course the re-election of Barack Obama (by 3 million citizen votes and over a hundred in the electoral college once Florida was done counting several days later). Yet fear stalks the land.

The Republicans remain convinced their only task is to oppose any and all legislation the Democrats, including the president, try to pass. When Dubya was in the White House the presidency wasn’t to be questioned: just shut your yaps and fall in line. But now that they’ve failed in their quest to limit Barack Obama to a single term, it’s an open secret the Republicans will simply double down on their ideological obstructionism and procedural flimflamming to prevent those infernal poor from stealing any more of the treasury’s money (which is mostly earmarked for the military).

David Sirota summed up the GOP strategy at “House Speaker John Boehner has said that ending the Bush tax cuts is ‘unacceptable’ and further, that the 2012 defeat of the GOP somehow gives Republicans ‘as much of a mandate’ to ‘not raise taxes’ as any mandate Democrats have on any issue.” Coincidentally, Mother Jones magazine asserts that “So far the 112th Congress – the group of lawmakers elected in November 2010 – has been the least productive in modern history, having passed the fewest number of bills since 1947, when such statistics started being compiled.” (Precisely what the Republicans had set out to do, making the 112th’s legislative gridlock something of a badge of honour.)

Sirota goes on to remind readers that poll after poll have “showed that on the single most significant economic policy issue, taxes, ‘six in 10 voters nationwide say they think taxes should be increased’ while ‘only about a third of voters said taxes should not be increased at all.’” In other words for every citizen who thinks taxes should not be raised there are two others who think they should. Yet the Republicans still absolutely refuse to discuss higher taxes.

(From the New York Times on July 22, 2011: “Negotiations over a broad deficit reduction plan collapsed in acrimony on Friday after Speaker John A. Boehner suddenly broke off talks with President Obama, raising the risk of an economy-shaking default … The breakdown was the second time this month that Mr. Boehner had walked away from the table […] when it became clear rank-and-file House Republicans would not agree to raise revenues on wealthy Americans as part of a debt-reduction deal, despite Mr. Obama’s concessions on reducing future spending for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”)

Last week the New York Times was at it again. “On a conference call with House Republicans a day after the party’s electoral battering last week, Speaker John A. Boehner dished out some bitter medicine. Their party lost, badly, Mr. Boehner said, and while Republicans would still control the House and would continue to staunchly oppose tax rate increases … they had to avoid the nasty showdowns that marked so much of the last two years.” Coupled with Sirota’s reporting this makes about as much sense as telling the residents of a besieged city “Don’t worry … Until it’s time to panic.”

The GOP won’t allow the economy to go over any “fiscal cliff,” but this won’t stop them trying to make the public believe it unless they can get that tax-free “compromise.” Meanwhile actual issues (like global warming or the fracking which causes some people’s tap water to catch fire) will be ignored. One irksome item might get a little attention, however: the ongoing battle to reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, “which allows corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money” to political campaigns.

“In just the last two months of the campaign,” reports Noreen Nielson at, “the dirty energy agenda spent more than $270 million on TV ads promoting the oil, gas and coal interest, more than $31 million on energy-related ads … more than 59,600 spots ran.” November 6, Montana and Colorado voters (roughly 75 percent of them) followed nine other states in supporting a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision. John Boehner, however, thinks Americans should fear solvent government and sound infrastructure more than 7,500 television ads per week.