I miss Chuck

Published 11:21 am Friday, February 3, 2012

With the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries finished for the Republican Party, the 2012 presidential campaign is officially off and running now. I’m going to miss debating the issues confronting America with our recently departed fellow traveler Chuck Ross in the coming months.
We didn’t often agree (though we did sometimes), but we did manage to keep our discussions civil and respectful. We talked on the phone a few times, and presented our views as honestly as we knew how.
Some of the current crop of republican candidates have been running for almost the entire time since the election of President Obama. I can’t recall a more contentious time of criticism of the nation’s commander-in-chief in my lifetime. Naturally the republicans will say that it is deserved and democrats will counter that more progress has been made than in the previous eight years. So goes the clatter of partisan politics in modern America.
Unfortunately for America the clatter has displaced honest debate with lies and innuendo. Respect has been trumped by name calling and rudeness. Common sense has lost its footing to fear mongering and repetitive brainwashing about old solutions that have never worked being the answer to current problems (these are culmination of the old problems that weren’t solved by the old solutions). By this I mean, for example, that I wish that we could deregulate and that banks and businesses would play by the rules, so that life could move along smoothly. We did deregulate under Bush and look what happened – a financial crisis nested in the banking industry, and higher prices and unemployment fueled in the business community (OK mostly in the corporate world).
On the issue of taxes, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to agree that the rich and the poor should pay the same percentage of their income, so advocates of a “flat tax” completely miss the point of a fair and equitable tax code.
It might be a little more likely if the poor had the same access to loop holes and write-offs, but almost by definition that can’t happen without some knee jerk reactionary calling it “socialism.” A progressive tax code seems to be the most fair way to apportion the nation’s tax burden – i.e. the more you earn, the higher your tax rate. The privilege of earning a lot of money shouldn’t be free. High earners should pay to maintain the civilization that they exploit.
The wars that we jumped into in Afghanistan and Iraq still burn our treasure and cripple and kill our young, but we don’t seem to be able to find a way out of the mess.  Current republicans seeking the highest office either pay no heed to the contributions the wars make to our overall problems; or those who do have other ideas that are so outlandish that they aren’t viable candidates otherwise. The recent re-emergence of Muqtada al Sadr in Baghdad emphasizes the lack of judgment exercised in invading Iraq at all, much less believing that we would be welcomed there as liberators. Instead we have deepened the suspicion and hatred that were focused on our interests in the area already. We are slow learners in this regard.
I read in the Miami Herald this morning (1/12) that members of the “Occupy” movement are demonstrating in south Florida against the continued use of Gitmo prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I continue to believe that the prison should be closed and inmates transferred to US facilities where their treatment and fates would be visible to the country. A case for keeping it open has been made by saying that we don’t need terrorists being housed in the homeland. I still disagree since “transparency” has become such a sought after position. The candidates? I haven’t heard any of the republican wannabees even say the word Gitmo.
“Corporate personhood?” Oh my gosh! Can you really imagine a corporation (like General Electric that didn’t pay a single dime in taxes for 2010) being granted the same status as the police officers or teachers who work their jobs and can’t afford to own their own home on their salaries? What fair-minded individual can support such a position?
There are numerous other issues that should soon be debated – voter fraud, global warming, immigration, abortion, healthcare, social security, unemployment, the selling of US elections by removing limits on individual (or corporate) contributions to PACs and more on a long list.
With Chuck we could always count on a spirited and mostly fair (though like my own views, highly partisan) take on these and other issues. I wonder what he would be saying about things now. A few others have tried to take up the banner since Chuck left us, but their efforts have, by comparison to him, ranged from weak to downright silly.
Yes, Chuck was the man and I miss him. I can’t imagine how the republicans can win this election without him.

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