The Cash for Clunkers program has not just provided an economic stimulus, it has also provided insight into true Republican and conservative values. This might seem like an improbable context for an intense ideological debate, but for Republicans today everything is about ideology and every issue is the setting for an ideological battle. All that matters is conflict and the effort to assert ideological supremacy as part of an agenda of achieving political power over others. But what is that ideology that conservative Republicans are pushing?
I'm not suggesting that there isn't plenty of evidence of Republicans' true feelings elsewhere, but most of the time Republicans do a good job of presenting false arguments or reasons that make it appear that their position is more reasonable than it really is. Cash for Clunkers, in contrast, doesn't permit much in the way of reasonable objections — at least from the conservative side — so all attempts here fall flat. This makes their real ideological position easier to perceive.
Americans don't realize that there is a police state growing in America, and this ignorance is revealed by the debate over the arrest of Henry Louis Gates and President Obama's remarks about it. Too many people seem to have lost sight of what the most essential and important issues really are, even beyond the important question of racism: the abuse of power by America's police officers and the passive acceptance of this by a growing number of citizens.
I don't mean to downplay the racial component of this story, nor do I mean to suggest that racism may not be a serious factor. What I do want people to think about, though, is the degree to which the abuse of police power is likely a much more fundamental issue here and one which connects so many stories that have been peppering our news media — and how many incidents have we not heard about, perhaps because they involved minorities who didn't have a direct line to the president?
Is there some sort of inherent psychological illness among conservatives in America that is causing so many of them to so readily accept the insane notion the Barack Obama isn't an American citizens? Conspiracy theories can surely be found in every culture and nation, among people of every religious and political persuasion, but conspiracy theories seem to be disturbingly popular in America generally and among America's religious and political conservatives in particular.
Fortunately these conspiracy theories tend to remain more on the margins, but in recent years conservatives' conspiracy theories have been making ever more inroads into their political and religious mainstream. Today, the "birther" nonsense is the most recent step in this development; more than with any other conspiracy theory in recent years, it looks like the belief that Barack Obama is not a citizen is taking over Republican and conservative politics. It's not only popular with fringe conservative groups and pundits, but is being loudly defended by prominent groups, outlets, and spokespeople.
There's a case about to be argued before the Supreme Court - for a second time, which is significant - which has the potential of substantially rewriting the very nature of the American political system. I recognize that there many cases every year which seem to be like this because it is, after all, the Supreme Court. This case, however, is potentially much worse than most: what if American corporations were permitted to donate money directly to political candidates, bound only by the restrictions already in place for individuals or perhaps without any restrictions at all?
No one saw this case coming because this isn't an issue that the Supreme Court was ever supposed to rule on. The justices were supposed to rule narrowly on whether a book about Hillary Clinton qualified as a corporate-funded political message that had to be held back until after an election or if it were just another book that could be published like any other.
Outrage and condemnation followed the news of Missouri State Rep. Cynthia Davis (R) denouncing a summer food program for low-income children who rely on free or cheap meals from schools during the school year. It wasn't merely that she opposed providing food for kids who would go hungry, but she did so by saying that "Hunger can be a positive motivator." The echo of "let them eat cake" was thundering, and one would be forgiven for wondering at first if it was a parody from The Onion.
As reprehensible as her position is, though, we must keep in mind she was merely expressing directly and honestly the underlying agenda of political conservatives for generations — religious conservatives included. Cynthia Davis is herself a good example of this because she is the owner of the "Back to Basics Christian Book Store," so she's not just speaking as a professional conservative politician, but also as a professional conservative Christian. Her arguments in defense of her words weren't political and economic, but rather religious and heavily laden with the "family values" rhetoric so beloved by the Christian Right.