The Critical Mass

The Republicans: Brazen liars hiding behind pretty lecterns.

The Republicans: Brazen liars hiding behind pretty lecterns.

It’s long past time to call Republicans on their dangerous BS

Blood is in the streets, theaters and cafés of Paris. The worst thing we can do now is… do what Republicans are already doing.

“How’s that Syrian refugee resettlement look now?” tweeted South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan. “How about that mass migration into Europe? Terrorism is alive & well in the world.”

The dead weren’t even cold, but Duncan chose to use the Paris tragedy as an anti-immigration platform. In this case, the extraordinary wave of Syrians who are fleeing that country’s barbaric war under President Bashar al-Assad. Very few countries are stepping up to their humanitarian responsibilities to help these people, including the United States. Duncan has been properly smacked down for his snide remark by a number of much smarter people, who have noted that the refugees are not the terrorists; they are fleeing the terrorists.

France has actually taken the leading military role in Syria, with its attempt to oust Bashar al-Assad that includes its bombing of ISIS targets in that country. Whether that has anything to do with Friday’s terrorism attacks remains to be seen.

But Ted Cruz has the answer. More air strikes. Somewhere. Just blow up some people. And it doesn’t matter how many innocent civilians are killed, he says, because radical Islamism “will not be deterred by targeted airstrikes with zero tolerance for civilian casualties.”

It’s the “Kill ’em all, let Muhammad sort ’em out” foreign policy.

This increasingly loud rhetoric of conservatives is stupid, dangerous and solves nothing. It not only punishes innocent people, like Syrian refugees and Afghani goat herders, but it creates hatred of the United States.

It’s long past time to quit chuckling about conservatives’ nonsense and call them out on it. Behind every important issue of the day – climate change, racism, immigration, minimum wage, terrorism, does the media ask too-hard questions at debates, did Ben Carson stab a schoolmate, on and on and on – you’ll find a Republican fantasy.

This week’s Republican Presidential candidate debate was so chock full of lies that news organizations couldn’t fact check them all. Overwhelmed by the bullshit, writers and editors simply threw their hands in the air and settled for writing stories with headlines like, “Top 10 lies told by Republicans at the debate.”

I watched only the first 12 minutes of the debate before my head exploded and I turned off the television. But that was long enough to hear classic fallacies uttered by three men who Republicans judge as qualified for president.

Donald Trump was up first. He was asked about minimum wage. He said no, we can’t raise it, because if we raise taxes and wages we can’t compete with the rest if the world. Trump said poor people will just have to work harder to “get into that upper stratum.” Now, when Trump says wages are too high, he’s obviously not suggesting that CEOs and the 1 percent, that “upper stratum” where he lives, give up anything. He’s only suggesting that wages for the rest of us be kept in check so that rich folks can build their empires. He’s suggesting that the poor and increasingly poor middle class handle the tax burden, because the rich shouldn’t be asked to pay for things from which they’ve benefited: Roads, schools, science and medical research, oil subsidies, cops who shut down protestors, the embassies that look out for their global interests, the military that defends their offshore business ventures.

Next, Dr. Ben Carson, same question. He closed his eyes, looked up at God and talked about how minimum-wage jobs as a young man were his gateway to a greater prosperity. All Republicans insist that the typical minimum-wage earner is that 17-year-old kid flipping your burger. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, three-fourths of Americans earning the minimum wage are age 20 or older. Those are adults, old enough to kill people in wars. In fact, the average minimum-wage earner in the United States is 35 years old. That’s a person who likely has a family to provide for. Taking it embarrassingly further, one fourth of Americans earn less than $10.55 an hour.

Then it was Marco Rubio’s turn. He went after intellectuals, a longstanding Republican tactic: “Welders make more money than philosophers,” he said. “We need more welders and less philosophers.” Wrong on both counts, it turns out. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median annual salary for welders at $37,420, and for philosophy teachers $63,630. The BLS also says there are 849,930 welders in this country, and a mere 23,210 philosophy teachers.

Ah, but those are facts. Perhaps Rubio fared better with that favorite Republican tactic, fear. “If you raise the minimum wage, you’re going to make people more expensive than a machine,” he said. “And that means all this automation that’s replacing jobs and people right now is only going to be accelerated.” In that same answer, Rubio insisted that “tax reform and regulatory reform” and “repeal and replace Obamacare” will result in higher wages. I personally don’t see the connection.

I’ll give Rubio this: I have noticed self-scanners replacing minimum-wage workers at the check-out lines in the big box stores. But robot philosophers in tweed jackets with leather elbow patches, puttering around college campuses, feels like a stretch for even a cheap sci-fi novel.

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