Monday, July 28, 2014

Two Broke Girls

Now that I've all but preordained Hillary Clinton as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, I thought I would give equal treatment to the other side of the political aisle. I'm nothing if fair and balanced. Alright, stop laughing, I'm trying to be serious. Okay, now I'm laughing.

So who would I tab as the 2016 Republican presidential nominee? Unlike the Democrats, the GOP field is wide open. Let's take a gander at the potential candidates, shall we. You've got Rand Paul and Ted Cruz for the far, far right mob; Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal, for the not so far right, but still out there crowd; Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum for the self-righteous and self-anointed Jesus freaks; Rick Perry, because, well, oops; and rounding out the field, Jeb - I'm not my brother - Bush and Chris - EZ Pass - Christie, for those who long to return to the Nixon years.

So, with such a "diverse" field (I'm really having a hard time keeping a straight face here, guys), who am I putting my money on? Well, you can forget all the aforementioned candidates. Not one of them is fit to hold the door for my personal pick for Pres and VP.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you none other than Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.

Yep, you heard right. America's two dumbest and bat-shit craziest women on the dream ticket of dream tickets. You can start printing those bumper stickers right now. In fact, all you have to do is cross out the "2012" part on the ones that are already out there and insert "2016" next to it.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking. Am I crazy? No, that's not it and, for the record, I'm not. My mother had me tested. Am I being facetious? Well, yes, but that's not it. Oh wait, I think I know what it is. How do I know who gets top billing on this dream ticket? Yes, that's it! I knew one of you'd get it sooner or later.

Well, to be honest, it wasn't easy deciding. I mean on the one hand, you have a half-term governor of a state nobody wants to visit save for three months out of the year, who, thanks to John McCain, hasn't shut up in six years and is a lock for a reality TV show of her own on A&E one of these days; on the other, you've got a soon-to-be former congresswoman who could substitute for nurse Ratched on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and who excels at looking into the wrong camera while giving state of the union rebuttals. 

I mean, with so much talent, you really could just flip a coin. But I went with Palin primarily because I really miss Tina Fey (boy I sure hope she winks at me) and I'm not sure there's a woman out there brave enough to impersonate Bachmann, not to mention look that scary and deranged on purpose. Be honest, whenever you see Bachmann on TV don't you fear turning off the lights? I still haven't fully recovered from watching her interview on Meet the Press in 2011. It's the only time in my life I actually felt sorry for David Gregory.

Okay, I admit it; I really did flip a coin. Palin was heads and it was heads. Busted. But, come on, guys, does it really matter? They're interchangeable, aren't they?  That's what makes this dream ticket so special. While Palin is busy mangling the English language - and apparently Spanish from what I hear - in all those gotcha interviews, Bachmann can screw up all the American history she wants, like when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. While Palin is accusing Hillary of being anti-American with "known" ties to terrorists, Bachmann can threaten her running mate with eternal damnation for being pro gay rights and rejecting creationism. I've got a crazy idea - yes even crazier than these two running in 2016. We could alternate them every other week. Palin one week, Bachmann the next. That way neither of their feelings would be hurt.

In the event they actually got elected (okay breath in, breath out), they would simply continue alternating in and out of the Oval office. Just think of the possibilities. One week Palin is calling Vladimir Putin a thug; the next Bachmann is leading a crusade to purge him of any evil spirits and demons.

I've already picked out a name for our dream team: the dynamic duo of stupid. Every late-night comic's ratings would go through the roof. Leno could have Conan O'Brien fired all over again. Hell, Letterman might even reconsider retiring. HBO could offer a pay per view feature to its subscribers. Buy ten episodes, get one free. Game of Thrones and Mad Men? Don't make me laugh. They couldn't hold a candle to tweedledee and tweedledumb.

Relax, people, I was just fuckin' with ya. Everyone knows it's going to be Jeb and Christie.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Could Georgia and Kentucky Cost the GOP Senate Control in November?

Have you been checking Real Clear Politics' Senate polling lately? Of course you haven't; you have a life. Fortunately I'm not burdened by such things, so let me give you the latest rundown.

RCP, at present, has the Senate at 46 Democrats and 46 Republicans with 8 tossups. That means that the GOP needs to win at least 5 of the tossups to become the majority party. Democrats would only have to win 4 to hold their majority, since they control the White House and the Vice President would cast the deciding vote in a 50-50 tie.

Now Republicans are all giddy because they lead in the polls in six of those tossups. If those leads hold, the GOP would have a 52-48 seat majority in January. However, there are two seats that the GOP holds at present which are in the tossup category and, if I were a Republican strategist, I would be sweating bullets right about now.

Georgia and Kentucky are within the margin of error. In Georgia, businessman David Purdue - who survived a primary runoff against Chamber of Congress-backed Jack Kingston - is ahead 1.7 points over his Democratic opponent, Michelle Nunn, Sam Nunn's daughter. But the last two polls show the race a tie (Rasmussen has Purdue up 6 and Landmark has Nunn ahead by 6). Both polls were taken within the last two weeks. Saxby Chambliss's decision not to run has put this seat in play for the first time since Max Cleland held it.

In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, is barely ahead of his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes. The latest polling - from June, mind you - has old Mitch up a mere 1.5 points, prompting a Politico piece, titled, "What if Mitch McConnell loses."

Yes, what if, indeed. Imagine the GOP taking four seats away from Democrats and being this close to taking the ball into the end zone, only to fumble at the one (er, two) yard line. As strange as it may seem, Republicans could actually lose two of their own seats this November. And you thought Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock hurt.

But that might not be the only obstacle that stands in the way of the GOP taking the Senate. In Iowa, for example, a state that RCP puts in the GOP column for November, an NBC News/Marist poll taken only two weeks ago shows the race tied. Quinnipiac has Democrat Bruce Braley in front 6 points. Even Rasmussen shows Republican Joni Ernst holding a slim 1 point lead. This race is far from settled.

The same can be said for Alaska, Louisiana and Arkansas, where incumbent Democrats are trailing their Republican opponents but are all within the margins of error. In North Carolina, Kay Hagen has been ahead of her Republican challenger, Thom Tillis, for the last two months. Public Policy Polling has her ahead by 3 points.

My guess is we probably won't get a handle on where these races will end up until a month before the election. It's usually around that time that polling starts to makes sense. Even then, it wouldn't surprise me if we had a surprise or two in November. If House Republicans actually move forward with an impeachment proceeding against Barack Obama, that could have a devastating impact on GOP prospects for Senate control.

Then there's the real issue that nobody seems to be willing to talk about. Regardless of who prevails in November, will anything actually change come January? My guess is probably not. Think about it, if the GOP did actually gain a majority in the Senate, they still wouldn't be able to pass anything. That's because Democrats would filibuster any legislation they didn't like, just like Republicans are now doing as the minority party. And even if, by some small miracle, the GOP got a bill passed both Houses, all Obama would have to do is veto it. Republicans would not have the votes to override him.

So, in other words, we seem to be spending an awful lot of time focusing on what amounts to ostensibly bragging rights, if you could even call it bragging. Truth is no matter what happens this November, it will have little, if any, impact on what goes on in Washington for at least the next two years.

2016, anyone?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Idiots' Delight (the Semi-Annual Edition)

Due to unforeseen circumstances - the New York Rangers actually made it all the way to the finals for the first time in twenty years - last two months' Idiots' Delight features got, shall we say, waylaid. Fear not, kids. The nice thing about idiots is that there are always plenty of them around from which to choose. It's kind of like watching a soap opera. You can miss a month's worth of episodes and when you finally resume watching, Brad is still proposing to Laura, over the objections of her father.

Rather than combine May and June, I thought I would just cut to the chase and proceed to the semi-annual edition. That way, I figure, I can maximize the idiot to feature ratio. Who says progressives can't be efficient? 

Okay, buckle up, here we go. Envelope please.

The "experts" who got everything wrong about Iraq. You've got to have balls of steal to go on the air and criticize this president for his mistakes in Iraq, when just about every prediction you made about that country was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Let's start with the "brains" of the operation, Dick Cheney, AKA, Darth Vader. Cheney penned an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal in which he said of Obama's alleged failures, "Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."

This coming from the man who said we would be greeted as liberators and that the insurgency was in its last throes. How embarrassing was Cheney? Fox News's own Megyn Kelly called him on the carpet in an interview saying, "But time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir...Now with almost a trillion dollars spent there with 4,500 American lives lost there, what do you say to those who say, you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?"

Wow, I guess it's true that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Next up on the poison food chain is Paul Bremer. This was the genius who thought de-Ba'athification of Iraq would be a good idea. Rather than strengthen Iraqi democracy, the policy exacerbated the growing unrest throughout the country that led to the proliferation of the types of insurgency groups that Cheney assumed were in their last throes. Thanks to Bremer, these groups now had the support of thousands of Ba'ath Party members who were all too eager to avenge their purge from the Iraqi government.

To this day, Bremer defends his decision and pins the blame on - guess who? - the U.S. military. If only they had listened to him, Iraq would be a democratic paradise today. Dogs have more shame when they shit on your rug.

Of course, no operation of this magnitude could've gotten off the ground without an inspirational leader. Which brings us to Paul Wolfowitz. The chief architect of the Bush Administration's policy in Iraq, it was Wolfowitz who first brought up the idea to invade the country shortly after the 9/11 attacks. He also predicted that the reconstruction costs would be paid for by the revenue from Iraqi oil. Wolfowitz, you might remember, served as Under Secretary of Defense to George H.W. Bush, who, like his son, also invaded Iraq. Though in that case, the elder Bush at least had the brains to stop before toppling the government.

Naturally, no team would be complete without its cheerleader. Enter Bill (I never met a war I didn't drool over) Kristol. Calling Kristol a neocon would be like calling the Atlantic ocean wet. It goes without saying. The editor of The Weekly Standard was famous for insisting that the war would last at most two months and that there was "almost no evidence ... at all that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni." If by two months he meant 104 months and if by no evidence he meant that there was plenty of evidence, then yes, I guess Kristol was right.

Once more, Kristol is beating the war drums. I guess spending $2 trillion on one unwarranted war that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and thousands of our troops wasn't enough for Captain Killroy. Now he's setting his sites on Syria, calling for - surprise, surprise - military intervention.

Some people never know when to quit.

The media for allowing the aforementioned clowns back on stage.   It's one thing to be brazenly arrogant, not to mention profoundly wrong. It's quite another for that arrogance to be enabled by the alleged guardians of truth.

If you need any more evidence that the main-stream media in this country is lame, you need look no further than the shameless performances of the Sunday talk-show hosts. Not only did they allow these buffoons admission to their sets, they didn't even have the decency to challenge them on their own complicity in what has now become the most disgraceful chapter in American foreign policy.

Talking Head, and hopefully soon to be ex-Meet the Press moderator, David Gregory, actually asked Wolfowitz what he would do about the growing terror threat from ISIS.  Nothing like asking a pyromaniac what he would do with a couple of gallons of gasoline. Knowing Gregory's propensity for lapping up anything he's told, I'm surprised he didn't hump Wolfowitz' leg during the interview.

George Will for his rape column.  Over the last few years of his career, George Will has managed to stay clear of the insanity that has gripped the bulk of the conservative movement. Though frequently wrong on just about every topic imaginable, he was nonetheless respected by even his staunchest critics.

Well you can now kiss that baby goodbye. On June 6th, Will wrote an op-ed piece for The Washington Post, in which he said that, thanks to the recent trend of political correctness, being a victim of rape is now a "coveted status that confers privileges."

Not being satisfied with digging himself halfway to China, Will went on to expound further by calling the incidents of sexual assault a "supposed campus epidemic."

The main thrust of Will's argument rests on two points: the first being what he considers a discrepancy between the number of rapes that are actually committed on college campuses, which is 20 percent and the number that are actually reported, which is 12 percent. "Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous." Apparently, it has never dawned on Will that the difference may have something to do with the fact that there is still a great deal of shame associated with reporting a rape. Women not only have to contend with the actual trauma of the event but the stigma that somehow they must've done something to deserve it. Idiots like Will don't make it any easier.

Which brings us to Will's second point, a report in a Philadelphia magazine about a girl who had befriended a young man, who she assumed was not interested in a romantic relationship. When the man decided otherwise and proceeded to undress her, she initially said "no." But the man persisted and he eventually raped her. The woman "just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything." Six weeks later, she reported the incident.

It's the six weeks that's bugging Will out. Somehow the delay in reporting the assault means that it couldn't have been that traumatic. Again, Will fails to understand the huge shame and guilt that many women carry in these circumstances. This man was supposed to be a friend, she thought. He didn't just violate her body, he violated her trust.

Neanderthals like Will see the male as the true victim here. Thanks to what he calls "progressivism," these young men, who have had their reputations smeared, must now contend with "costly litigation" against these institutions that have denied them their "due process" to clear their names.

Apparently Will must've missed the lesson in English class where the teacher said "no" was a complete sentence. Thankfully, his ignorance did not go unpunished. Within a couple of days of the piece appearing, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which was carrying Will's syndicated column, dropped him, calling the piece "offensive and inaccurate."

The only question remaining is what is The Washington Post waiting for?

John Boehner suing President Obama. The day that John Boehner decides to hang up his gavel, give up politics and become a private citizen, he should immediately pursue a career in comedy. In a stunt that would make Lewis Black's day, the Speaker of the House is actually going to sue a sitting president.  You know, it's one thing to be delusional (as many in his party are) it's quite another to be flat out stupid.

And what is the basis for the suit? It seems the Speaker and the GOP are all up in arms over Obama's decision - last year, mind you - to delay the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Yep, you heard right. Republicans are pissed that Obama delayed implementation of part of a law they've tried to repeal more than 50 times. See what I mean about comedy?

Politics aside, this stunt is doomed to failure. As Bloomberg's Jonathan Bernstein correctly points out, "For the courts to consider a lawsuit, the person or group bringing the suit has to show they were harmed in some direct way. So, for example, in the recent recess appointment case, Noel Canning Corp. was able to show that it had directly been harmed by an action taken by members of the National Labor Relations Board who had been recess-appointed. Generally, the courts have ruled (Vox has a good explainer on this) that Congress isn’t eligible to sue the president just because it doesn't like what he’s done."

So why is Boehner proceeding with a suit? Two words: Tea Party. Nobody with any credibility thinks this will go anywhere. In fact, there are a number of pundits who've warned that Boehner's suit could potentially backfire on the GOP. But try telling that to the bubble people who are obsessed with this president and his use of executive orders. Never mind that past presidents have relied on executive orders far more than Obama; never mind that it is well within the purview of a president to take executive actions when he or she sees fit. The fact that this president has done it has driven them completely over the edge.

Here's the irony. If Boehner's suit were to be successful, the employer mandate that the GOP had demanded be stripped from the ACA during last year's government shutdown, would actually be reinstated. How's that for shooting yourself in the foot?

Spoiler alert. If this stunt actually ends up costing the GOP the Senate this year, look for Boehner to top the annual Idiots' Delight awards. In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, "What a maroon!"

President Obama for his handling of the border crisis. I have said this on more than one occasion. This president's greatest problem has been not his policies, but his perception. Simply put, the man doesn't know - or apparently isn't interested in - how to, as they say in show business, play to an audience. And that one glaring weakness has caused him a mountain of grief during his five plus years in the Oval Office.

The border crisis is yet another case in point. Yes, this problem has been growing steadily for well over two decades and, yes, the main obstacle, ironically enough, appears to be a law that George Bush signed in '08. That law prohibits the quick return of children from countries other than Mexico or Canada and affords them an immigration hearing with legal counsel. The Administration, to its credit, is asking for some "flexibility" regarding the law's implementation so it can take action. Again, good policy.

But, with all due respect, Mr. President, you can't say that the reason you didn't go down to visit the border was because you weren't interested in a photo op and then show up at a bar and shoot pool with voters in Denver. You can't have it both ways. Yes, we get it you are well briefed and on top of the situation. No one is doubting that (well at least no one who's sane). But for Christ's sake, would it have killed you to spend a couple of hours down there? You went all the way to New Jersey to shake Chris Christie's hand after Sandy. It's not like you don't have Air Force One at your disposal.

How bad was your faux pas? Rick Perry actually ended up looking good. Yes, Rick Perry! The guy who couldn't remember the third department he'd shut down if he got elected president. Mr. Oops, himself! There are only four things in the universe dumber than Rick Perry: Michele Bachman, Sarah Palin, Louie Gohmert and an amoeba.

Shame on you, sir, for ceding the stage to him and letting him look even remotely intelligent, not to mention giving the wing nuts a talking point on, of all things, immigration reform.

Ron Reagan, Jr's tasteless atheist commercial on Cosmos.  As someone who grew up with both an appreciation of science and faith, it annoyed me to no end when, on the season finale of Cosmos, this ad by Ron Reagan appeared.

Well, first off, Ron, it's NOT freedom from religion, it's freedom of religion. Let's get our prepositions straight. Secondly, and most importantly, your commercial, while I'm sure it was important to you personally, could not have been more ill timed or ill advised.

Okay, you're an atheist who doesn't believe in heaven or hell. Good for you. I'm sure you're a credit to atheists everywhere. I'll even bet Bill Maher got a woody when he saw your ad.

Here's the problem. While it's true that an overwhelming majority of Cosmos' viewers would probably agree with your stance, some don't. Like me, they don't think that believing in God means that the universe has to be six thousand years old. They see science not as an impediment to their faith in God, but as proof of his wonder and glory. They don't believe in fairytales, but they also don't believe in a random universe.

Without quite realizing it, you took a giant shit on those people and, in so doing, aided and abetted the Christian Right, which has been looking for every opportunity to exploit this situation to their advantage.

This is one of the reasons why I detest the Left almost as much as I do the Right. While the Right is myopic and backward thinking, the Left is often arrogant. There is a smugness that tends to rub people the wrong way. And it's that smugness that often costs them votes in close elections. Voters who might otherwise be sympathetic to their positions are often dissed and made to feel unwelcome, hence they vote for the other candidate, often against their own interests.

Ron Reagan may not want to admit it, but the majority of the country believes in God. The goal of the Left shouldn't be pissing off that majority, but, rather, finding a way to lure many of them over from the dark side.

Votes are hard enough to come by even in good years. No one should flippantly toss any aside.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Supply-Side Economics: The Great Political Shell Game

There's an old saying. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Well, when it comes to the "theory" of supply-side or trickle-down economics, it appears there are no limits on how many times people allow themselves to be fooled. It's like watching a shell game, only at least in a typical shell game - you know, the one where someone hides a ball under one of three cups and you're supposed to guess where it is - the cost is a few lousy dollars. With supply-side economics the cost has been considerably higher; to the tune of trillions of dollars.

The shell game goes something like this. First you promise to lower everyone's taxes. That's an important first step, because who doesn't want their taxes lowered. Next you claim that the tax breaks will pay for themselves because everyone will have more money to spend, including the "job creators," who, you know, create jobs. With more people working, there will be more money coming into the treasury and, with all that extra capital out there, the economy will grow by leaps and bounds and the deficit and debt will shrink as the great engine of capitalism purrs along in 5th gear.

It sounds great doesn't it? And I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that those of you who played that other shell game swore that the ball was under that third cup. But it wasn't, was it? It always ended up being under the cup you didn't choose. That's why it's called a shell game. The house rigged the contest; the player never stood a chance.

Over the last 34 years, the United States has had two front-row seats to view the ultimate shell game: supply-side economics. The results have been as consistent as they've been predictable. The economy did not grow by leaps and bounds; in fact, growth was no more than average at best. The job creators didn't create those extra jobs; for the most part they lined their corporate pockets. And while the rich got richer, the poor got poorer and the middle class got squeezed. But, worst of all, the debt exploded.

When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, the debt stood at $930 billion; when he left in 1989, the debt stood at $2.7 trillion. In short, Reagan almost tripled the debt in his eight years as president. George W. Bush's eight years in office proved no better. When he took office, the debt was $5.7 trillion; when he left in 2009, the debt was $10.7 trillion. That's almost double if you're keeping track. Worse for Bush is the fact that he inherited a $300 billion surplus from Bill Clinton, which he quickly squandered by starting two huge land wars, passing two huge tax cuts and expanding Medicare.

You'd think that the American people, after getting burned twice, would've figured out the con and come to the realization that supply-side economics simply doesn't work. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. And the reason is quite simple. No matter how many times they get burned, Americans love it when you tell them something they want to hear. And everyone loves hearing they're getting something for nothing. Think about it. Who doesn't want a few extra bucks in their pockets to spend?

Of course those few extra bucks come with a huge price tag. For every dollar the typical middle-class taxpayer receives, the ultra rich get hundreds, if not thousands. And that extra money floating around hardly ever ends up back in the treasury. That's because people who were barely getting by in the first place are not likely to spend that extra cash. What they're far more likely to do is hold onto it for a rainy day. Ironically, Bush found that out when he did his own little stimulus in early '08 when the economy began to tank. Bush thought he could prevent a recession by naively believing that American consumers would go on a spending binge. It backfired. Instead of spending the extra money, they horded it.

Corporate America pretty much did the same thing. One of the cruelest hoaxes perpetrated on the public is that the reason the job creators haven't created enough jobs is because they are over regulated and over taxed.


In 2011, as the economy was beginning its long, slow recovery, America's largest corporations were sitting on roughly $2 trillion. That's right. At a time when unemployment was over 9%, our vaunted job creators were sitting on the sidelines propping up their balance sheets and making their investors rich and happy. The idea that giving these blood suckers another trillion dollars more in tax "incentives," is obscene.

Obscene or not, the proponents are persistent in their claims. More tax cuts and less government regulation equal more jobs and greater prosperity for all. The fact that Clinton grew the economy more with higher marginal tax rates and the same regulations, all while balancing the budget, or that Eisenhower presided over the longest stretch of prosperity the nation had seen in a century - with even higher marginal tax rates and more regulations - is irrelevant. Tell a lie often enough and gullible people will swallow it.

Once more the gullible are lining up to play the shell game. The deficit is shrinking and the economy is growing at its highest rate in six years. But that hasn't deterred the supply-siders. They're determined to rewrite history once more.  Trust us, they say. This time the ball really will be under the third cup.

Don't believe them, Amercia. The ball isn't going to be under the third cup this time. In fact there IS no ball. There never was one. And no matter how many times you play the game, you'll never win. The house will see to it.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Civil Rights, LBJ and the Truth About Democrats, Republicans and Racism

Over the last few days a number of conservatives have been doing an awful lot of chest-thumping over their part in passing the Civil Rights Act, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on July 2nd. To hear them tell it, it was Republicans who were responsible for the bill's passage in Congress. Racist Democrats tried to filibuster and kill it.

You hear this mantra quite often from conservatives. Republicans were the party that ended slavery; Democrats resisted them. Republicans fought to end segregation; Democrats supported the Ku Klux Klan. They even managed to dig up a clip where Lyndon Johnson is heard saying the "N" word, proof positive that Democrats were the party of racism.

Of course what many of these people are sadly missing are contextual and historical perspective. When they say that racist Democrats wanted to kill the bill and Republicans supported it, they are only telling part of the story. In order to get at the truth, it is important to go back and look at the makeup of both parties in the 1960s.

Harry Enten wrote an excellent piece for the Guardian which explains this very "complicated picture."

Yes, it is true that, if you look simply at the across the board voting, a greater percentage of Republicans supported the bill than Democrats. But when one breaks down the vote geographically, the results are quite startling.

First let's start with the raw numbers. In 1964, Democrats held 244 seats in the House and 67 seats in the Senate, by all accounts an extraordinary majority. Conversely, Republicans held just 171 seats in the House and only 33 seats in the Senate. But what is not generally known or discussed much is that in the South, Democrats controlled 91 of the 102 total House seats and 21 of the 22 total Senate seats, an even greater majority percentage.

In those states not in the South, Democrats voted 95 percent in favor of the bill in the House and 98 percent in favor in the Senate, compared with 9 percent and 5 percent respectively among Southern Democrats. The Republican breakdown was even worse. While roughly 85 percent of non-southern House and Senate Republicans voted in favor of the bill, not one Republican in the South joined them. All 12 voted no.

The reason for the disparity between Republican and Democratic support for the Civil Rights Act is owed directly to the fact that Democrats held far more House and Senate seats in the South than Republicans. Had the two parties been similar in strength, the percentages would've been considerably closer; it's entirely possible that they might even have been reversed.

It was the racism that existed in the South that proved to be the primary culprit.  Party affiliation seems to have been superfluous. What happens next, however, is crucial to get a full understanding of the issue before us.

Almost immediately after Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, and later the Voting Rights Act, many southern Democrats - commonly referred to as Dixiecrats - began bolting the party to join the GOP. They were led by the likes of Strom Thurmond, George Wallace and, later in the '70s, Jesse Helms. Conservative arguments that Robert Byrd stayed with the Democratic Party are amusing at best. Byrd was the only "northern" Democrat to vote against the Civil Rights Act and, as The Daily Kos adroitly observed, calling West Virginia a northern state is "a stretch." At any rate, Byrd later changed his views and became a supporter of civil rights, while Thurmond and Helms remained fervent  segregationists until their deaths.

In the years since the passage of both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, the South has become increasingly Republican, while the North has become increasingly Democratic. Richard Nixon capitalized on the fears of many segregationists by employing the Southern Strategy. It helped propel him to victory in the 1968 presidential election. In fact, Barry Goldwater, the '64 Republican nominee for president, managed to win five southern states that had, heretofore, always voted Democrat. 

A comparison between the 1964 and current Congress reveals the depths of the transformation that has taken place in both parties. Below are maps depicting the composition of both Houses in the 88th Congress. Right below them are maps depicting the composition of those very same Houses in the current Congress. Read it and weep.

Senate, 88th Congress:


 House of Representatives, 88th Congress:

Senate, current Congress:

House of Representatives, current Congress:

Over the last fifty years the GOP has virtually taken over the South. It is now the majority party in that region of the country. Furthermore, Republicans who would've supported the Civil Rights Act are now completely gone from the party, purged by a radical element that is obsessed with purifying its ranks.

Yes, it is true that once upon a time the Republican Party was a progressive, freedom-loving party. Men like Abraham Lincoln defined it and men like Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower carried on that grand old tradition. It is also true that Great Britain was once a great sea-faring nation. But, as they say in the Navy, that ship sailed a long, long time ago.