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Archive for August 4th, 2022|Daily archive page

STANDING UP TO FASCISM

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on August 4, 2022 at 12:10 am

The July 29 edition of The PBS Newshour offered a clear lesson on why so many liberals are unable to cope with a weaponized—and Fascistic—Republican party.

It came during an exchange between conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post associate editor Jonathan Capehart .

Judy Woodruff, moderating the weekly “Politics Friday” segment, opened: 

“Well, one of the measures that has hit a bump in the road after this deal emerged was a piece of — it’s called the PACT Act. It’s all about providing government aid to American military veterans who were exposed to toxic substances, toxic chemicals in the war in Iraq and wounded, and eventually — I mean, these are — these were veterans who came home with serious medical problems.

“This looked like it was on the way to passage. It’s now Republicans in the Senate in particular saying, wait a minute. And it’s caused a lot of reaction. Jon Stewart, the former late-night talk show host — he’s now an activist — this is what he had to say just outside the Capitol yesterday”:

Jon Stewart, Comedian/Activist: “These people thought they could finally breathe. You think their struggles end because the PACT Act passes? All it means is, they don’t have to decide between their cancer drugs and their house. Their struggle continues. These people will not give up, they will not give in and they will not relent.

Jon Stewart MFF 2016.jpg

Jon Stewart

“This is an embarrassment to the Senate, to the country, to the founders, and all that they profess to hold dear. “

Judy Woodruff: “He….used much stronger language than that in going after the Republicans, Pat Toomey and others, who are — who he says are holding this up.

“What about this argument he’s making, that, essentially, they said yes, and now they’re saying no, and it’s just….”

David Brooks: “Yes. Well, it’s — let’s say, at best, it’s a mystery. At worst, it’s mind-boggling. The mystery is, just a month ago, the vast majority of Republican senators voted for this thing. And then I think 25 or some large, significant numbers shift and now, suddenly, they’re against it. Is it payback for what Manchin — for what Manchin and Schumer did?”

Shields and Brooks on Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis and the debate | PBS NewsHour

David Brooks

And what was it that Democratic West Virginia Senator Joseph Manchin and Democratic New York Senator Charles Schumer did? 

As summed up by Woodruff: “When we were last together last Friday, we all thought that the President’s budget was dead, the package with climate and health care in it. Little did we know that Joe Manchin was having these secret talks with Chuck Schumer.”

But then Manchin decided—for still-unclosed reasons—to back the Democrats’ budgetary bill. And that’s when Republicans decided that helping wounded veterans would be helping President Joseph Biden. And that’s when 25 Republicans who had previously backed the PACT Act changed their minds—and votes.

David Brooks couldn’t imagine that Republicans could be so cruel: “It — that would be mind-boggling. You have got men and women who served this country suffering from cancer and other ailments, and we’re going to take away benefits because of a legislative pique? Who does that?

“[Republican Pennsylvania United States Senator] Pat Toomey, I think, has some principal reasons having to do with budget policy and what we can afford. That’s one thing.

“But if the votes were changed because Mitch McConnell said, we need to screw somebody, that would just be appalling.”

Jonathan Caphart: “And Senator Toomey’s arcane problem was that funding was being moved from discretionary within the bill to mandatory. And he was calling it a budget gimmick.

“But you know who doesn’t care whether it’s a budget gimmick? It’s those families that Jon Stewart was talking about. It’s the….veterans who worked in those burn pits and are suffering with the ailments. It’s the families of those veterans who are sick and/or have died.”

PBS NewsHour | Brooks and Capehart on voting and gun violence legislation | Season 2021 | PBS

Jonathan Capehart

But on August 2, Republicans caved, in a vote of 86-11.

The reason: Jon Stewart kept the public pressure on. And so did more than 60 veterans groups. Many of the veterans had camped on the Senate steps, braving heat, humidity and thunderstorms. 

As a result, veterans will receive expanded lifesaving health care benefits for those exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From this Democratic liberals—and Americans generally—should draw two lessons:

Lesson #1: Republicans are evil. They will viciously hurt anyone—including those constituents (such as veterans) they claim to care about if they believe it will hurt Democrats. What they do care about is gaining—and maintaining—absolute power over Americans.

Lesson #2: Trying to compromise with Republicans is not only useless but dangerous. They regard any effort at compromise as a sign of weakness. The same was true for the Nazis during the reign of Adolf Hitler (1933 – 1945).

The appeasement efforts of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to prevent World War II not only led to the destruction of Czechoslovakia but whetted Hitler’s appetite for further conquest—resulting in World War II.

In short: Standing up to Fascism saved the United States during World War II. It can do the same for the United States today.

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