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Katy Burns

Katy Burns: Has the GOP lost its mind?

Last Thursday Rep. Bill O’Brien, former speaker of our House of Representatives, blessed readers of the Monitor with an exceptionally incoherent column.

Near as I could tell, he cited a piece on to argue that, somehow, all members of the “Doctrinaire Left” are political and philosophical descendants of South Carolina Sen. John C. Calhoun. You remember Calhoun, surely, from your American history class. Oh, yes, he also died in 1850.

And as political descendants of Calhoun, a fiery defender of slavery and a notorious racist (as were a lot of white Americans of his day), today’s “Left,” defined broadly enough to include all but the extreme right-wing fringe, are universally united in a long-standing desire to keep black Americans in perpetual servitude. Or so this crackpot theory goes.

This, presumably, includes the current (coincidentally) black president of the United States, Barack Obama.

O’Brien’s rambling discourse was so weird, it hardly found any defenders even from among the Monitor’s happy troupe of right-wing anonymous online commenters, who normally applaud any attack on Obama, no matter how crazy.

But that’s what’s happening today to the Republican Party on every level. Like O’Brien, it is being driven quite insane. And the culprit is the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare seems to have unhinged almost everyone in the once Grand Old Party.

O’Brien’s diatribe was in response to a Monitor editorial which rightly excoriated the Mont Vernon Republican for a particularly odious comparison he made, in a public rally, of Obamacare – a serious attempt to extend minimal health care protection to millions of uninsured Americans – to the vile Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. That Act is one of the most shameful bills ever enacted in the U.S. It allowed black people – whether runaway slaves or freed men and women – to be seized anywhere in the nation based simply on the word of a property owner and forcibly sent South to be resold into slavery.

It will forever be an indelible stain on this nation’s history. It helped pave the way for our blood-drenched Civil War.

Needless to say, O’Brien was rightfully condemned throughout the state. His feelings were hurt. So, of course, he doubled down! And in one of the lamest defenses ever, he penned last week’s bizarre statement.

This is, apparently, what Obamacare does to the mass of Republican pols. Makes them quite bonkers.

Like all Republicans who have for four years insisted that Obamacare won’t work, O’Brien has done everything he can to ensure that in New Hampshire that prophecy comes true. Hence the state’s GOP, including, sadly, the current majority in the Senate – who in O’Brien’s heyday were considered the sane ones but certainly are no longer – have done and continue to do their best to try to sabotage it.

This means turning down millions of dollars in federal grants to the state designed to spread awareness of the program and what it entails, to help people to apply for it and to set up the insurance exchanges that are integral to the Act. They have, legislatively, done everything possible to tie the hands of state officials who are eager to help ease Granite Staters’ transition, and they

have – this is the cruelest – so far prevented New Hampshire from participating in a fully financed Medicaid expansion that could extend minimal health care coverage to more than 50,000 uninsured people.

The same things are happening across the nation in states dominated by Republicans. Even where a handful of Republican governors have tried to help their citizens, they are foiled by their legislatures.

Are you stunned to see that most of the recalcitrant states are in the Deep South and Upper Plains states – the ones whose politicians moan and groan about the feds even while accepting more federal money than they ever pay in? Or that most of the states welcoming Obamacare are in the Northeast or on the West Coast, the states which mostly without complaining send far more to Washington then they get back?

I thought not.

Anyway, the GOP in Congress doesn’t have the flexibility of the various states. After all, the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – is law. Has been for nearly four years. Many parts of it are already in effect, even if millions of Americans remain ignorant of that fact. And the entire act will be operative next year.

Drat! What do to, if you’re a doctrinaire Republican congressman who’s vowed to repeal Obamacare? Well, easy, you vote to repeal it! Which the GOP-dominated House of Representatives has, in effect, done 40 – yep, 40 – times in the last two and a half years. Not that the votes do any good.

Let’s take a peek at reality here. Repeal will not – repeat – not get through the Senate. And if, improbably, it did, there is no way that President Obama (it is not being called Obamacare for nothing) would ever sign it. He will be president until January 2017.

The GOP dead-enders are making repeated – and futile – attempts to defund Obamacare, despite the fact that most of the funding was built into the bill and can’t be so easily changed.

With the help of well-funded advertising by outside groups, large numbers of Republican office-holders are trying to persuade potential recipients of Obamacare, primarily young people, to refuse to get insurance. Yeah, kids, stay uninsured!

And some Republican allies have started a loopy campaign urging young people to burn their Obamacare cards! Never mind that there are no Obamacare cards. It’s apparently an attempt to relive the burning of draft cards in the 1960s. Not, mind you, that many draft cards were actually burned in the ’60s.

The most reprehensible stunt, though, threatens to shut down the federal government unless, miraculously, both the Senate and Obama himself agree to make Obamacare disappear. This is one that some Republicans in the Senate as well as the House are enthusiastically embracing.

They go so far as to advocate not paying the federal government’s bills, thus defaulting on our debt, wrecking the country’s credit rating and likely throwing not only the American but the global economy into chaos.

What’s that great much-quoted definition of insanity? Oh, yes. It is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, meet Bill O’Brien and his crazed cohorts.

And there doesn’t seem to be anything that responsible GOP leaders – yes, there are a few – are able to do to put a stop to the madness.

(Monitor columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)

Legacy Comments32

To everyone below: Doesn't anyone see the folly in labeling an entire political party (either one) as racist? Sure, there are racist individuals in each party and in all walks of life, but saying the (fill in the blank) party is racist is like saying everyone in the (fill in the blank) party enjoys sushi. And who cares whether the group of people who called themselves the Democratic Party 150 years ago was racist? Or for that matter, what the Republican Party of 150 years ago believed. Both parties have been redefined many times since then. It's 2012. Your argument is invalid.

The democrats go nuts over a Rodeo clown with an Obama mask and Katy has the nerve to demean the GOP

Limbaugh is correct. This is the same way extremists act when you insult Mohammad.

Or is it Rush is Reich? His motto, for Ditto-heads, is like NewsCorps': "We distort, you recite." You seriously think someone wearing a Bush mask at a similar venue in 2006 would have been tolerated? Such behavior might be expected at a political demonstration or rally, but a rodeo? Get real. It was childish, disrespectful (of the office as well as the man), and carried with it a strong whiff of racism. And then add in a spice of Islamo-phobia, courtesy of Rush. What a classy guy. Doing his part to spread distortion, misinformation, and hate since...? How long has he been on the air?

Rodeo clown puts on Obama mask, banned for life, disrespectful, racist. GWB assassination film wins awards.

Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Mark Levin; these guys have a lot to do with the polarization and lack of civility in politics today. They are entertainers, not politicians. At least a politician has to try to appeal to a broad audience to get elected. These guys have figured out that they only have to appeal to their niche market of bedrock conservatives. The typical listener is a 67 year-old white male. When Republican Nat'l Comm. chair Michael Steele called Rush an entertainer and said his show was incendiary, there was such an uproar he was forced to apologize. When he called Rush, Rush wouldn't take his call for a while to make him squirm and show him who's boss. I listen to these guys occasionally and their callers treat them like God. "Ditto-head" is a perfect term. You will virtually never hear a dissenting opinion. And when a liberal calls, he/she is usually quickly dispatched. According to these guys when Obama was elected, the world was over. It was time to stock up on guns and gold coins in fully stocked survival shelters.

Too much hate going on for my taste. Too many inappropriate analogies on all sides. this minimizes the historical impact of true monsters, attributing same characteristics to some ordinary people whose view is not consistent with one's own. Switch brushes to some narrow or medium ones.

Well said. So many on the right are irrational in their opposition to Obama and Obamacare, when our first health care concern should be coverage for all. On a somewhat related note, recently we've seen discussion over mental health in this state, yet little is mentioned in the reports of why there is a funding crisis. Hello, 2011-12 legislature.

Katy thanks for plugging it is a good place to go after reading the Monitor to see what the "Guardians of Ignorance" accidentally on purpose left out of the paper.

Yes, is an excellent source for information, as long as one treats their copy of Mein Kampf as literature.

Mauser1 I usually respect your differing point of view because it is reasonable. Comparing Breitbart to Mein Kampf went into the realm of extreme.

Short answer to Katy's question: "Yes." Their motto has been first: "Get me rewrite!" In their 4 decades long march rightward, the Republican Party and their well-endowed 'think tanks' have endeavored to rewrite economics, history, and science. Whether the issue is the cause of the Civil War, the history and efficacy of the New Deal, the necessity of counter-cyclical (Keynesian) spending vs. the Laffer Curve and tax cuts, Civil Rights legislation (including now marriage equality), voter fraud/ voter suppression, or climate change, the current iteration of Republicans is on the wrong side of facts, logic, and history.

Hmmm...something tells me that voters in Detroit will vote for the same party next year as they did 40 years ago. And that has proven NOT to be in their best interests. Talk about being on the wrong side of...well..everything.

Talk about rewriting History. It is the democrat pro-slavery party that has a long history of racism. The KKK has a long history of well known democrat supporters and they didn't care that they were known Klansman. It was the democrat party that was well know for voter suppression of Blacks so they wouldn't vote Republican. Hey Katy it sure is't the Republicans who are losing their minds. Bruce is a good example.

Van, the operative word in your post is "was". You're being disingenuous with your history of the "party of Lincoln". Many conservatives today revile Lincoln, our greatest president, as "a statist dictator". You only have to read some of the tripe on Granite Grok or libertarian scribblings elsewhere to come across numerous accounts that include bizarre re-writings of the Civil War. Since at least the 1930's, the parties have been changing places. Northern blacks began voting Democratic in the 1930's, knowing the New Deal was a good deal. Truman integrated the armed forces after WW2. Ike, a moderate Republican who wouldn't recognize today's GOP, sent the Army to enforce desegregation efforts in 1957. This was perhaps the high-water mark of Republican civil rights efforts. Earl Warren was reviled by conservatives in both parties as Chief Justice of the SCOTUS. Many Republican moderate and liberal Republicans ("the Eastern establishment") supported LBJ's civil rights era legislation. But they represented the last gasp of such support by the GOP. Any such Republicans today are derided as RINOs by the right. Since 1964, the GOP has moved/been pushed rightward by sunbelt Republicans. Barry Goldwater was the first--he did not vote for the landmark civil rights legislation that LBJ proposed, and then ushered through to passage with bipartisan support. Kevin Phillips developed the "Southern Strategy" to win the South for Nixon, whose appeal to the "Silent Majority" won him 2 elections and triangulated 3rd party candidate George Wallace right out of the 1968 election. Ronald Reagan, the epitome of 'sun-belt Republicanism', before his election gave a 'dog-whistle racism' speech at a state fair in Meridian Mississippi--where 15 years before 3 civil rights workers had been murdered. It isn't the Democratic Party that today seeks to disenfranchise black and minority voters, and undo much of the landmark civil rights legislation, while enacting voter suppression laws. Nor is it from Democrats that we hear both thinly viewed and overtly racist claims about Obama and minorities today. You can look it up, or you can keep trying to rewrite both past and present to suit what you imagine the modern GOP has become. The "Party of Lincoln" long ago morphed into the "Party of Jefferson Davis".

I still contend that southern democrats were the majority in the house, senate, governorships, and local house/senate in 1992. Look it up. Something has happened since then, which I believe is cultural shift. Clinton, who was largely financed by the wealthy on the coasts, pushed thru an assault weapons ban, the PC movement, and pushed the conservative democrats out of the party. You keep saying the republicans have moved to the right, but you neglect to acknowledge that the democrats have lurched to the left. That fact, has consequences. Especially in the south.

Bruce the Democrat part is racist. MLK was a Republican who requested others to not judge people by the color of their skin but to judge them by the content of their character. The first thing democrats instinctively to is judge people by the color of their skin: Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore all fit the bill. What did Bill Clinton say about Obama: Bill Clinton told Ted Kennedy that Obama 'would be getting us coffee' a few years ago: Read more: And since you mentioned LBJ here are a few quotes from LBJ who viewed blacks by the color of their skin. Please note the link is from a liberal website: So Bruce Democrats are still racist.

For Van below: "On Thursday, BuzzFeed Washington, D.C., bureau chief John Stanton published a pair of articles calling out the sons of two separate Republican members of Congress for racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, sexist, and homophobic social media accounts. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s teenage son, Tanner, went by the name “n1ggerkiller” in an online game, and posted YouTube comments using the word “nigger” and calling Mexicans “the scum of the Earth.” On his Twitter account, he made prolific use of the word faggot and called his friend a “Jew” for stealing a joke. A few hours after the Flake story appeared, Stanton reported that Nevada Rep. Joe Heck’s son, Joey Heck, had posted equally stomach-turning comments to his Twitter account. In addition to his repeated use of “faggot” and “nigga,” he made anti-gay and anti-Mexican remarks, saying NFL quarterback “[Mark] Sanchez can hop the border faster than he can throw the ball” and retweeted “There are gays everywhere. Maybe that’s gods way of thinning out the population because faggots can’t have babies.” Being a politically minded young lad, he also commented that ABC’s Martha Raddatz should not have been a presidential debate moderator because she’s a woman and that Mitt Romney made Barack Obama his “slave” in a presidential debate. Heck also said that Obama’s main accomplishments as president were promoting the sports of “spear chucking and rock skipping. The sports they do in his home country…”

Reply to Bruce below. Well, there goes their chances of being elected as Republicans. If these two boys seek public office, it will have to be as democrats.

To GWTW.. As easy as it may seem to you to blame everything you believe is bad on the "other" party, you may want to know that the internet is just as easy for you to use as it is for us. Reagan supported responsible weapons bans and restrictions.

To Tesha below...I see no one has made an argument against my point that the democrats have moved decidedly left since 1992, and that has driven conservative democrats away in droves in the south.

Reply to GWTW below: Your claim that the Democratic Party has moved dramatically leftward since 1992 doesn't hold water. If anything, it moved slightly rightward with Clinton, who was affiliated with a centrist group of Dems. Dems moved leftward in 1972, when they changed their primary and convention rules in response to the '68 convention debacle. But the Clinton 'wing' was decidedly centrist--on NAFTA, Wall St. finance, welfare reform. The real movement of the parties has been the rightward lurch of the Republican party starting in 1968, and especially since the '90's. Your timeline: "...since 1992...has driven conservative democrats [sic] away in droves in the south" is off concerning the causes and timeline for the GOP swing rightward. BTW: Still waiting for ANY acknowledgement by any of the Carpers that today's GOP is not the same as my father's GOP. I won't hold my breath. But for those actually interested in a factual account of the transition--and its consequences, here's a good book, featuring centrists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, from their book "It's Even Worse Than It Looks". "The post-McGovern Democratic Party, by contrast, while losing the bulk of its conservative Dixiecrat contingent in the decades after the civil rights revolution, has retained a more diverse base. Since the Clinton presidency, it has hewed to the center-left on issues from welfare reform to fiscal policy. While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post....We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party. The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges."

reply to Bruce below....from my earlier post "I still contend that southern democrats were the majority in the house, senate, governorships, and local house/senate in 1992. Look it up. Something has happened since then, which I believe is cultural shift. Clinton, who was largely financed by the wealthy on the coasts, pushed thru an assault weapons ban, the PC movement, and pushed the conservative democrats out of the party.".......So, no argument there...correct? democrats firmly controlled "the majority in the house, senate, governorships, and local house/senate in 1992."...correct???

1980 was a pivotal time in the GOP's transition from principled proponent of equal rights for all Americans to active opposition that continues to this day. Ronald Reagan, building upon Goldwater's earlier assertions of states' rights and Nixon's "Southern strategy", made his first speech after his convention nomination at the Neshoba County Fair. A little history is in order: Neshoba County was where 3 civil rights workers had been kidnapped, tortured and murdered some 16 years before. A NYTimes story picks up the story with an account of Andrew Goodman's arrived: "After a brief stopover in Ohio, Andrew traveled to the town of Philadelphia in Neshoba County, Mississippi, a vicious white-supremacist stronghold. Just days earlier, members of the Ku Klux Klan had firebombed a black church in the county and had beaten terrified worshipers. Andrew would not survive very long. On June 21, one day after his arrival, he and fellow activists Michael Schwerner and James Chaney disappeared. Their bodies wouldn’t be found until August. All had been murdered, shot to death by whites enraged at the very idea of people trying to secure the rights of African-Americans. The murders were among the most notorious in American history. They constituted Neshoba County’s primary claim to fame when Reagan won the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 1980. The case was still a festering sore at that time. Some of the conspirators were still being protected by the local community. And white supremacy was still the order of the day. That was the atmosphere and that was the place that Reagan chose as the FIRST [caps added] stop in his general election campaign. The campaign debuted at the Neshoba County Fair in front of a white and, at times, raucous crowd of perhaps 10,000, chanting: “We want Reagan! We want Reagan!” Reagan was the first presidential candidate ever to appear at the fair, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he told that crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.” Reagan apologists have every right to be ashamed of that appearance by their hero, but they have no right to change the meaning of it, which was unmistakable. Commentators have been trying of late to put this appearance by Reagan into a racially benign context. That won’t wash. Reagan may have been blessed with a Hollywood smile and an avuncular delivery, but he was elbow deep in the same old race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon."

reply to Bruce below...12 years after Reagans speech, the democrats still were the vast majority of US Senators, Representatives, Governors, State Senate and Representatives. In 1980, Reagan won all but 4 states, and in 1984 he won all but one. Apparently States also believed in states 2 landslides.

I begin now to see most of the right wing writers here seem to not have had much formal education. Other than learning to read which helps them to get to right wing web sites and believe everything they see there. Also they haven't learned how to capitalize proper names of political parties and definitely they know nothing of American history probably world history as well. They can't seem to understand why minority (soon majority) voters can't seem to appreciate all that the Republicans party has done for them. Sad.

I can assure you that my not capitalizing the democrat party is purely..intentional. Wrong It is most left wingers that don't have much of a formal education. It is fact the democrat party was pro slavery. It was the democrat party that formed the KKK. It is a fact that the KKK has a long long list of democrat members. It is sad that some left wingers skipped history classes and got high instead.

I can picture Mrs. Burns diabolically wringing her hands while writing this article saying E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-T like her “cartoon husband” Mr. Burns of the Simpsons. E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-T she is going to put all Republicans in the same box just because one Republican does or says something. For example should we think all democrats are perverts because democrats Anthony Weiner and Filthy Filner are? We all know that Bill O’Brien is the favorite punching bag of the Monitor. All the Monitor has to do is mention the name Bill O’Brien and the liberal loons begin to salivate. News flash to Mrs. Burns; Obama and ObamaKare are very unpopular and it is going to be criticized. Maybe it is you Mrs. Burns who have lost their mind if you think Obama and ObamaKare are popular.

One good point that Rand Paul made about these "States that get more Federal dollars than they send in" In his state, thats because of the Military bases there. Who is arguing we close those two bases? Yep, no one. As for Obamacare, its still extremely unpopular, and Harry Reid should bring it up in the Senate for a vote. And apparently, Palin was right about the IPAB, according to the op ed by Howard Dean. How much of Obamacare we know now will actually be in Obamacare by the time its implemented? Its a terrible law, just like the act of 1850. And congress refuses to even vote on it.

NJ has eight military bases in it and still gets less back in Fed aid than in sends.

Considering the 2 bases in KY have almost twice the personnel as all the bases in NJ, and KY has half the population of NJ, I'd say Rand has a good point. Plus the fact NJ is practically on top of the financial capital of the world and KY is well, not, might also be a factor. And lastly, you are incorrect, NJ has only 7, since Fort Monmouth closed.

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