Updated Republican Policy Guide

(Yes, this is essentially a repeat and it is being posted early, but it seems appropriate to post the Policy Guide on the occasion of the Republican Convention.  If you have not seen it, you might want to check out the immediately preceding post: Das Mitt Romney Lied.  Get together with you friends and sing!)

 

Economy

1. A graduated income tax is socialism.

2. Any government mandated distribution of wealth is socialism.

3. Specifically taxing the wealthy is class warfare.

4. Any wealthy person, even a market speculator, is a “job creator.”

5. Poverty is always the result of individual character failure.

6. The free market always works in our best interests.

7. The deficit can be eradicated by cutting government programs.

 

Government 

1. Any government regulation is inherently bad, unless it is aimed at labor unions or recreational drugs.

2. Any government plan to supply medical care is socialism, unless the care is for   veterans.

3. The only valid function of government is to support a strong military and security apparatus.

4. Our constitutional rights are given to us by God.

 

National Security

1. The most important element of national security is the military.

2. The defense of freedom requires giving up some freedoms.

3. Leaking any classified information, no matter how important it is for the people to know and no matter how old it is, is treason.

4. The military knows best what resources it should have.

5. A suspected terrorist, even if an American citizen, may be detained indefinitely.

6. Because of national security needs, the government may employ secret witnesses and evidence.

7. The free press is inherently a threat to national security.

8. Islam is inherently a threat to national security.

9. Allowing any authority besides the military and intelligence agencies to deal with foreign and domestic enemies is inherently a threat to national security.

 

Foreign Policy 

1. America is qualitatively different from and consequently better than other industrial democracies.

2. America has the right to violate the sovereignty of any other country if it feels threatened.

3. Other countries have no right to violate the sovereignty of America for any reason.

4. America has absolutely no obligation to observe international law or conventions.

5. The United Nations is a tool of America’s enemies and seeks to limit our sovereignty.

6. Our only important and faithful ally is Israel.

7. American foreign policy in the Middle East is what Israel says it is.

8. Russia is the major threat to the United States.

9. Canada is a part of the United States filled with foreigners.

 

Energy and Environment 

1. America’s best energy plan is to produce more oil and coal.

2. Coal is clean energy source.

3. Renewable energy is inherently a threat to national security and probably socialist.

4. The natural environment is to be mastered for the benefit of the economy.

5. Hunting is the natural relationship between humans and animals.

6. God gave Christians the world to use.

6. Global warming, if it even exists, is a natural cyclical phenomenon.

 

Society 

1. Medical care need not be available to the average citizen to be considered “excellent.”

2. Failure is always the result of individual character defects.

3. Citizens should be permitted to practice any non-Christian false religion they wish to.

4. Catholicism may not be a Christian religion.

5. Mormonism is not a Christian religion.

6. The only valid purpose of science is to provide new technology.

7. Evolution is only a theory, unlike Genesis.

8. Sex education is inherently a threat to national security.

9. Fertilized eggs and corporations are “persons.”

10. While there is legitimate rape, most rape results from the woman “asking for it.”

11. Women are equal to men, but their natural place is in the home.

 

Patriotism

1. A patriot may be identified by his flag lapel pin.

2. Criticizing any military action is unpatriotic and dishonors the military personnel involved.

3. A veteran, no matter how decorated, dishonors himself and his country if he criticizes the war in which he fought.

4. Criticizing the government during wartime, that is, whenever we are being threatened, is unpatriotic and inherently a threat to national security.

5. Any protestor is a “hippie,” unless it is a conservative cause.

6. Believing “My country right or wrong” is unpatriotic since our country is never wrong.

7. Democrats are unpatriotic and inherently a threat to national security.

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Das Mitt Romney Lied

(This updated version of the Horst Wessel Lied (the official anthem of the NSDAP) scans like the German original (you can sing it), and the lyrics are actually a relatively close translation.  The actual Lied follows for comparison, at least for those who know any German.)

The banner high! The columns tightly bounded!

Mitt Romney walks with quiet, steady tread.

Paul Ryan, whom red scum and socialists have hounded,

Will march with him and see all freedoms dead.

 

The streets are filled with we who gather billions.

The streets are filled with we the corp’rate pawns!

It’s true that voters can be bought in all their millions.

The day for business and for greed now dawns!

 

For one last time will liberals be crying!

For battle stand conservatives to arms!

Soon Romney’s banners will be up and flying.

Obama’s fall will end false commie charms!

 

The banner high! The columns tightly bounded!

Mitt Romney walks with quiet, steady tread.

Paul Ryan, whom red scum and socialists have hounded,

Will march with him and see all freedoms dead.

 

 

Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!

SA marschiert mit ruhig, festem Schritt.

Kam’raden, die Rotfront und Reaktion erschossen,

Marschier’n im Geist in unser’n Reihen mit.

 

Die Straße frei den braunen Batallionen.

Die Straße frei dem Sturmabteilungsmann!

Es schau’n aufs Hakenkreuz voll Hoffnung schon Millionen.

Der Tag für Freiheit und für Brot bricht an!

 

Zum letzten Mal wird Sturmalarm geblasen!

Zum Kampfe steh’n wir alle schon bereit!

Bald flattern Hitlerfahnen über allen Straßen.

Die Knechtschaft dauert nur noch kurze Zeit!

 

Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!

SA marschiert mit ruhig, festem Schritt.

Kam’raden, die Rotfront und Reaktion erschossen,

Marschier’n im Geist in unser’n Reihen mit.

Ryan Shrugged

Paul Ryan was clearly selected as his Vice Presidential candidate by Romney in order to appeal to the Tea Party and other denizens of the extreme right, territory that the moderate Romney is, to his credit, unfamiliar with.  The briefest look at Ryan’s political career will immediately illustrate just how extreme he is, but his self-serving and uncaring approach to life is summed up in two words: Ayn Rand.

The Little Objectivist

Most educated people consider Rand’s philosophy, “objectivism,” to be intellectually shallow and in its rejection of social responsibility morally bankrupt.  I always considered it something that young college students espoused and then rejected when they were more mature and better educated.  Not Paul Ryan.  Several months ago, in response to criticism from the Catholic Church regarding his fiscal policies he asserted that he did not follow Rand, whose philosophy was atheistic and contrary to his Catholic beliefs and his hero Thomas Aquinas.  This is quite a turn-around, considering that only three years ago he was touting objectivism in his campaign ads, and his sincerity is in question since he has also claimed that the notion that he was ever a Rand follower is an “urban legend.”  I guess that is some other Paul Ryan in those videos.Actually, there is a certain thruthiness in his denials, since while he adopted the socially ruthless and self-serving parts of objectivism, he rejected Rand’s social libertarianism, presumably because that would conflict with one of his core convictions – that a woman should not have complete control over her own body.  In this regard he is the same sort of hypocrite as the Pauls, the father and son libertarians, who feel that the government should stay out of just about everything, except a woman’s reproductive system.  For this reason the Ayn Rand Institute has declared that Ryan is not a follower of their beloved mentor.

A very silly woman

Well, whatever his lies (don’t these people realize that everything they say in public is recorded?), three years ago at least he was out-Randing Rand.  He praises her for doing the best job ever in “building a moral case for capitalism,” that is, the “democratic capitalism” that helps secure the individual and his freedom from the attacks of “collectivist government,” as personified by the Obama administration.  The idea that unregulated capitalism has a moral quality is already approaching National Socialism on the nonsense meter, but he goes further and equates this simpleton and self-centered philosophy with the “moral foundation” of America.  This is somewhat of a surprise since the writings of the Founding Fathers (and they deserve capitalization in order to distinguish them from the bozos we now elect) constantly emphasize the importance of social responsibility as a facet of individual freedom.

Ryan is one of those social Darwinists who believe that the glory of America is that the competent individual can succeed in the capitalist system, while those who do not are by definition losers, and they of course do not deserve any social safety net at the expense of the winners.  And thus the purity of capitalism cannot be sullied by regulation, the conspiracy of losers looking to limit freedom and undermine American values.  Let business do its thing and the general welfare will improve.

This is of course absolute destructive nonsense that one should not have to argue against, but apparently more than ever the electorate responds to nonsense if it is aligned with their beliefs, even to the point of declaring false what the rest of the planet accepts as scientific fact, such a climate change.  It is absolutely and perfectly clear from the last century and a half of American history that unregulated capitalism DOES NOT contribute to the general welfare and is in fact ultimately destructive to it, inevitably widening the gap between rich and poor.  And if the invisible hand of the market actually exists outside of textbooks, uncontrolled capitalism will inevitably produce monopolies and conglomerates that will do whatever they please in the marketplace.  This is especially true in the world of a global economy and a computer-driven financial industry, where unregulated capitalism can actually compromise the entire world economy in order that a handful of people profit.

This is not a judgment call.  The economic history of the modern world clearly demonstrates that even regulated capitalism is dangerous.  Thus, one has to conclude that Paul Ryan – and all those like him – is either incredibly ignorant or, more likely, beholden to the businessmen and corporations that support his campaigns.  His own Church did not criticize him because it is anti-business, but because his policy positions are ruthlessly harsh on the weaker members of the flock.  But that is objectivism.  To label any of this “moral” is a gross insult to the intelligence of every voter, but then many, many voters seemingly are not intelligent enough to recognize this.  Is there anything so pathetic as a non-wealthy person supporting such policies, which ultimately mean that this person and his family will suffer?

Of course, none of this really matters, since if Mitt Romney is elected President, the global economy is likely to collapse and all of us suffer, making the actions of the little objectivist irrelevant.

This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, unto Jacob, and unto Bibi

(Pre-blog note: We celebrate a fantastic achievement for mankind: landing a one-ton nuclear powered science vehicle on Mars, all without human direction.  Unfortunately, most writers for the general media feel compelled, perhaps inevitably, to add that it cost $2.4 billion, implying that this is perhaps too expensive.  Why then do articles about the war in Afghanistan never mention that this war costs $2 billion a week?  The $2.4 billion Curiosity will operate for at least 104 weeks and actually produce something of value to humanity, which seems like a much better deal.  Perhaps if Curiosity carried weapons no one would notice the price tag.  Three cheers for my fellow geeks at NASA and JPL!)

 

The mainstream American media typically reports news involving Israel only when the Israelis do something spectacular, like invading Lebanon, or when American politics are involved, such as Mitt Romney’s brown-nosing comments about Jerusalem and the Palestinians.   Hardly surprising then that most American newspapers and television stations made no mention of the Levy Report, despite its important implications for Palestine and American policy in the area.  To be fair, some major newspapers, such as the NY Times, carried the story, but clearly most Americans, even those who keep abreast of the news, are unaware of the report, being inundated with the apparently more interesting details of the lives of mass murderers.

Regarding their occupation and colonization of the West Bank, Israel has (when it bothered at all) traditionally excused its clear violation of accepted international law by pointing out that inasmuch as there is no Palestinian state the strictures of such international instruments as the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Charter do not apply.  This rationale of course places Israel in what should be uncomfortable company: Hitler in part justified his monstrous treatment of the Soviet Union by noting that they had never signed the Geneva Convention.

This has apparently changed.  Prime Minister Netanyahu appointed a three member commission, headed by former High Court justice Edmund Levy, to investigate the legal status of the so-called “illegal” settlements, that is, those not authorized by the government.  The implication of course is that all the other settlements are legal, despite their obvious violation of basic international law.  But what the panel concluded goes way beyond the issue of the handful of “illegal” settlers, and it is breathtaking in its self-serving cynicism and implications.

Basically, they determined that that the “illegal” settlements – and thus all the settlements – are not illegal because they are not in fact in occupied territory.  This conclusion might seem a bit surprising since the Israeli army has been obviously occupying the West Bank for 45 years, and this is territory designated as part of the Palestinian state created by the same UN resolution that created Israel.  The commission, however, concluded that since Israel has been in the West Bank for such a long time that this is unique occurrence and thus not actually an occupation.  Bingo, all the settlements are perfectly legal in the light of international law.  As, I suppose, would be the German colonization of Poland if they had only hung on longer.

Israeli politicians either hailed this as a triumph of jurisprudence or remained silent, and I am unaware of an official response from the US government, which is in the midst of an election, when even the faintest criticism of Israel is viewed as political poison.  As a signatory of all the international conventions Israel is currently violating, it would be awkward for the US to officially accept the colonization of the West Bank, and our official position is that the settlements are unacceptable.  But no American president has dared take any action on the issue, and so far as I know, no administration has even publically referred to them as violations of international law.  Instead they are “obstacles to peace” or some such euphemism, despite the fact that as a High Contracting Party America is legally bound to “ensure respect” for the Fourth Geneva Convention, which the settlements blatantly violate.

The self-serving and perfectly silly arguments of the Levy Report are designed to satisfy the all-important settler block in the present extremist Likud coalition, but what are the wider implications if this position becomes the official policy of the Israeli state?  This would essentially amount to an annexation of the West Bank, and while the US has pretty much turned a blind eye to the annexation of the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem, this would be very different and disastrous for Israel and perhaps the US.

Annexing the West Bank, even if the word “annex” is avoided, would certainly create a crisis for Israel, which would be faced with only two options.  Israel could enfranchise the 2.3 million Palestinians who live there, but that would be the end of Israel as a Jewish state and is inconceivable.  The alternative is to create (or formalize what is already the case) an apartheid system, which would be the end of Israel as a democratic state.  The second solution would appeal to many religious fanatics, but it would mean the end of US support and the complete isolation of Israel unless it chooses to ally with blatantly undemocratic states like Russia and China.

Well, it would probably mean the end of American support.  American politicians of both parties have a very well established tradition of prostrating themselves before Israel for reasons that are actually becoming less compelling as relentlessly liberal American Jews reconsider their unqualified support of an increasingly illiberal and sometimes outright intolerant Israel.  Israel has become so imbedded in our political arena and its excesses so constantly ignored that it is not a certainty that American politicians, especially evangelically inclined conservatives, would actually abandon it.

We have been quite willing to call Israel a model democracy in the Middle East despite the clear evidence that Palestinian citizens are not just treated as second class but are actually legally disabled.  And in the eyes of many Americans every Arab is suspicious anyway, and the Palestinians have always been terrorists, right?  That Palestinians would be treated as American Blacks were before the civil rights legislation or as South African Blacks were under the apartheid government would clearly be no problem for many conservative Americans.  Yes, we finally severed relations with South Africa, but this is different.  Israel is vital to American security (at least that is what we have been told for a half century) and in any case this is the land the Bible says is special, the land where Jesus walked and where the end of days will take place.  Would Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann be bothered by any of this?

Many conservatives in Israel are not bothered.  Dani Dayan, head of the Yesha party, has just argued in the NY Times that because Arabs have called for the destruction of Israel and because the West Bank was the heart of ancient Israel, it is not just reasonable but actually moral for Israel to acquire this territory.  Think of it as Judea and Samaria rather than Palestine and you will see the moral imperative to annex.  American evangelicals, who seem to have an incredible capacity for ignoring the truth, especially when religion is involved, would surely endorse this idea, particularly since it involves not just their religion but also national security, which for some has become a quasi-religious concept.

To be sure, because of its unqualified support for Israel and Arab dictators and monarchs, its massive military presence in the Middle East and its expanding program of assassination by drone, America already has little credibility in the Arab world.  But accepting an apartheid Israel would surely end our credibility as leader of the democratic world and spoil our relationship with Europe, whose politicians (even in Germany) are not pathetically subservient to the interests of Israel.

For an historian this is of course all fascinating stuff, but for an American, especially one already concerned about the road we are taking, this is scarey stuff.