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Mark Shields
Mark Shields
13 Feb 2016
Make America Great Again -- at Torture!

The undisputed front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination who, like every other remaining … Read More.

6 Feb 2016
Cracking the Code of Campaign-Speak

"Do you ever get the feeling," asked humorist Robert Orben, "that the only reason we have elections is to … Read More.

30 Jan 2016
Is There Only One True Progressive?

Mark Shields is off this week. The following is a column by Joe Conason. In our polarized politics, the … Read More.

Republicans in Panic


Sen. Jim DeMint, the uncompromising South Carolina conservative whose average personal net worth of $40,501 made him, according to the respected Center for Public Integrity, the fourth-poorest member of the Senate, will resign his seat at the end of the year to become president of The Heritage Foundation.

Although no salary terms have been announced, the man whom DeMint will succeed has been paid more than a million dollars a year, and it's a good bet that Jim DeMint, who is earning $174,000 a year as a senator, will get a raise to somewhere in seven figures.

The DeMint news came right on the heels of an exclusive report in Mother Jones magazine that former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas had resigned as chairman of FreedomWorks, one of the prominent political operations in the conservative movement with strong tea party ties. Reportedly, Armey's severance package will leave him richer by $8 million.

Talk about striking gold. The financial windfalls visited upon these two conservative true-believers recalls the line about the congregationalist missionaries in Hawaii who seemed to find more personal prosperity than converts: "They came to do good and did very, very well!"

But if you want to know the terribly sad state of today's Republican Party, you just have to look at the treatment of Bob Dole, who was both the presidential and the vice presidential nominee of the GOP, in addition to being his party's Senate leader as well as its national chairman.

But long before he was a national leader, he was 2nd Lt. Bob Dole on April 14, 1945, in the hills of Italy, when a German shell tore through his right shoulder and broke his neck and spine. He had been a 6-foot-2-inch, 194-pound athlete, and after losing 70 pounds and having his body temperature rise to 108.7 degrees, he forced himself through 39 months of painful rehabilitation to learn all over again how to use the toilet, how to eat, how to wash and dress himself, and how to walk.

His painfully thin right arm, some 2.5 inches shorter than his left, has been limp for 67 years.

In 1990, Bob Dole pushed the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to Senate passage. President George H.W. Bush supported and signed into law the historic legislation, which has changed the face of America and the fate of millions of Americans.

Twenty-two years later, we now take for granted the wheelchair ramps in and out of our buildings, the wider doorways for greater access, the curb-cuts that remove obstacles. The ADA welcomes citizens with disabilities fully into the nation's academic, civic, social and economic life.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, inspired by and modeled after the ADA, was negotiated and signed by the administration of President George W. Bush in 2006. One hundred fifty-four countries have signed this treaty, and 126 countries have already ratified it. The treaty would require no change in U.S. law, but would provide the framework and incentive for other countries to recognize and guarantee, as the United States already does, the rights of all people with disabilities.

Twenty-one veterans organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Wounded Warriors Project — along with 30 religious and interfaith groups — endorse ratification by the U.S. Senate.

But on Tuesday, Senate Republicans caved to baseless, irrational fears about black helicopters parachuting blue-helmeted U.N. troops into American neighborhoods to punish homeschooling parents or shutter religious schools. With a wheelchair-bound Bob Dole on the Senate floor urging just 13 Republicans to join all the Democrats and provide the two-thirds Senate vote needed to ratify, all but eight of the Republican senators rejected the plea of their former leader and American hero.

Why? Because they're scared of a primary challenge from the right. That's why. America, Bob Dole, Abraham Lincoln's party and 700 million of our fellow human beings with disabilities all deserve better.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at




7 Comments | Post Comment
With all the news about the upcoming Fiscal Cliff, there is a very simple way to lower the costs paid out by the federal and local governments. That solution is to greatly reduce the money given to undocumented immigrants in our public schools, our hospital emergency rooms, our welfare programs, our prisons, and our unemployment benefits to our citizens. One part of this solution would be to charge those people, who are not legal residents, non-resident tuition in our public schools. They would either pay about $10,000 per year per student or return to their home countries. This would be a big boost to our economy. I hope that Mark will include some of these factors when talking about the financial problems in our country.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Charlie Larson
Fri Dec 7, 2012 10:16 PM
Re: Charlie Larson;... One good way of avoiding giving the children of undocumented immigrants an education is to give them justice in their own lands... We won't even offer people with disabilities in other lands any standard of justice... We help to make hells of foreign lands, have always helped to water and feed the tyrants among them, and when those who can leave escape those lands we exploit them for all they are worth... Do not suppose for a moment that the children of those who work here as slaves do not deserve an education by the contribution of their parents... They are all things considered, a positive fact in our economy... But we all must pay for them while only a few take advantage of them....
And do not believe the mass produced, produced for the masses education costs all that much for the results, which is usually -people with moderate educations, unable to think for themselves, and really having no idea...
And do not believe for a moment that such an education that results in the integration of immigrants into our society as citizens costs more than crime, detection, and incarceration in prison...
Want and ignorance are twins, but close relatives of violence and crime as well... Would you rather have a peace loving, freedom loving immigrant beside you in the future, or some snake that might as soon turn upon you or your family as his own???
The rights put forward by the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution may be only as good as our ability to defend them, which for the most part means that they exist for us within the states that defend them... But there is nothing about our rights that do not apply to all of humanity, and where people have a different understanding of rights, as the Muslims do, that works as well for them as ours do for us, then leave them alone...The great advantage coming out of our revolution was the notion of human rights applied to all men, even if it took a long time for us to recognize the humanity of our own black men...
If we had exported revolution as many of our founding father advocated, and as found expression in the Monroe Doctrine, there is no doubt that our rights here would be more secure, that our borders would be more secure, and that we would not have been drawn into senseless wars in Europe that revolutions might easily have prevented...
The full blessing of our revolution was denied to us, and we were allowed only so much liberty and rights as was found unavoidable by our rich... Even this latest assault on freedom found some advocates among the rich, if I am not wrong, because our capital abroad wants to keep its relationships with those foreign populations much as they found them without accomodations for the maimed of this world...
Yes; the reactionary religious right so long engaged in the squashing of human rights, even to a state sponsored and paid for public education in order to spell and enthrall the young with the nonsense out of the dark age of humanity, -the parochialism, and xenelasia of small communities unfitted for a great people is behind much of this...Ultimately the price of a powerless people- that to be kept powerless are kept ignorant too, has come to sway government to their crippled wills even while they do not reflect a majority view... The parties have gerrymandered these people to give themselves undue influence, and now that very influence must be feared...
There is a fix for this, but it would for all practical purposes end party control and gerrymandering... It is good for government to fear the people... Don't get me wrong... But to fear the religious reactionaries only because the constitution has encouraged their organization is justice for our long dead founding fathers who like todays graduates, had no idea... The best we may say about such people is that with a limited understanding of humanity, human psychology, or potential; and without anything resembling the extent of our geography, that they could have done so much worse... But worse would have long ago been replaced while good enough has been too long suffered...
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Dec 8, 2012 5:02 AM
The Repes are washed up in their current incarnation. No corporate executive (you know, the folks they are supposed to be serving) in his right mind would consider hiring any of their current in-favor leaders, given their proven incompetence.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Masako
Sat Dec 8, 2012 8:21 PM
Re: Masako... Sir; you cannot judge the competence of a moderate republican on his success with his own party which is divided for the very reason that it serves only the rich, and leaves the morality upon which it demands the votes of the faithful- to languish... The republicans against the democrats has always been unity against division...The teat party is following the insanity that party division and general intransigence has created...

They some times have a moral point to make... Other times they have simply lost sight of nation, what this nation means, who is the nation and who really owns it, and many think they own free and clear the distance of a bullet from their homes... I tend to agree with them when they say and act as though the government should fall, when they recognize how powerless it is to do good, and how able it is to intrude upon people's lives.. If they see that many of the poor are too immoral to be capable of freedom, that is a problem for both of us; but it is a problem created out of the attempt to keep people from standing up for themselves, and demanding all that is due to them, which is honorable, and moral... People can be made moral, or made immoral, not by time in or out of churches which are most immoral, and simply justify immorality, but in the totality of their lives, so that if they learn morality as children and society puts morality first in all discussions, then it is possible for people to remain moral without the formality of law ever touching upon them...You cannot teach morality where your whole society teaches immorality...
When economy and government are competing with each other like Messalina with a whore there is no sense in keeping it going, and it is true, that given enough time, that teat partiers will be corrupted, but let them drag home the triffling spoils they will as corrupted immoral people to share, and they may find themselve friendless and replaced...There is a great deal of anger, and fruatration and enmity between this people and their government, but the real difference between left and right is that the supporters of the right still have something to lose, and to work they must lose, and to be taxed they must lose, and yet none of them can grasp the totality of the beast that has them... Let them bring down the government... Let the economy fall... We will emerge a stronger, united people if we can defend ourselves in the meantime... We will never be that stronger, united people as we are going...
This is like that line from Cervantes: With the bread gone eaten up, up breaks the company... There never was enough in this land for the rich and the poor, but the great bounty of this land which bore so long the brunt of taxation kept all alive enough and well...All the while the country men were bearing taxation and interest, and were being run off their farms, the farms were being taken over by the banks- which always had those farmers working for nothing... Now, each and every one of them raises their prices to what the market will bear, and the economy is standing on toothpick legs barely able to carry food to its own mouth...

Who shall we cut out of the promise and obligation of government -is the cry from left and right... The teat party is cut out of this conversation by necessity because they refuse compromise... But many in this society besides them have no room left for compromise... The give has gone out of so many budgets that people must judge whether to eat, or pay their taxes...I expect it will take a while, but people will have to admit that they can no longer afford profit -and get buy...The infrastructure will crumble, and there is no one who can afford to patch it up and no business to patch it up for... Gas prices and want of good roads will keep people isolated, and they are already isolated by their religions or the want of it, by their morality or their antimorality...
We are becoming a land like England once was before Shakespeare, a place unable to communicate over its great variety of vocabulary and accents... The problem left untended by our constitution is what it always was: How to make a nation out of many people holding all manor of beliefs... De Tocqueville noted that we can talk on any subject, but not converse... I got a point... You got a point, and everyone is pushing their point into every one else, and no one is getting the point that unhappiness is general and immorality is wide spread, and the economy is serving no one...
It is out of necessity... The more historically aware and culturally aware a person is the more they look on this society with alarm at the impending doom... You can read the Old Testament Prophets for an example, but there is no vocabulary given to modern minds to convey the danger that confronts us as possibilities and wiggle rooms close in and solidify for the government and for the economy...What ever is holding this mess together; there will be a greater mess when it falls... Then we pick up the pieces, if they do not fall on us... At least we will be able to live out our lives without giving so much attention to government which if working would save us so much of attention...
Comment: #4
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sun Dec 9, 2012 7:35 AM
Great essay, Mark. I would only have added information about the source of the "black helicopters" idea, namely, former Senator Rick Santorum. The intense stupidity of him and his lot should be a major concern to all of us. He can, after all, affect actual votes by the Senate of the United States! I wrote my senator who voted against the treaty's ratification how disgusted I was at her vote and with her. To all readers: if your Senator also was among the voters against the treaty, please voice your disgust to him/her!
Comment: #5
Posted by: Mike Ohr
Sun Dec 9, 2012 9:09 AM
While watching IW this morn., I was stunned by comments of WMD's in Syris and no one correlating the knowledge of these "facts" and where they came from, to past knowledge and where that came from. Isn't there something in our past that was along these same lines, that gave rise to statements like "Evil doers" and "Axis of evil"? Did'nt anyone get even a hint of Deja vu? Where did this knowledge come from? help01
Comment: #6
Posted by: heffe
Sun Dec 9, 2012 10:45 AM
Re: Mike Ohr;... I wouldn't want to seem cynical, but so few representing so many equates to concern for votes in gross, and the money that makes that possible... Every vote cast by these people, no matter how offensive to common sense or morality can be framed as a vote on principal... What in hell does that mean???... I elect you to do a job that you refuse to do on principal??? We suppose these people to represent us on their honor, and when they do not represent us they claim it was because of a conflict of honor, of principal... I would rather have more representatives representing fewer citizens doing as they are told by them, or doing what is best for them and making an argument to that effect, or resigning if doing the people's will is obnoxious...
For any representative to say: You elected me to free me from your will so I could do as I please and excuse it as principals, and use the money gained by my principals to vilify my oponant in the next election as some less than human spawn of satan -without principals...Moral principals are no fair substitute for moral practice since we only know morals as we see them in action... Such pricipals of morality as people have grow out of the practice of morality... When people do what is immoral on its face- on principal- it is because they are totally corrupt, and good only for the grave...
As one smart fellow noted: When they say it is not the money, but the principal of the thing, its the money... You must understand, that many of those who oppose democratic government also oppose any thing that interferes with individual salvation... They have no objection to people doing good so long as it is done in the least efficient way possible, that is, with the organization of their churches eating up most of the charity...
If the government was as inefficient at doing good as their churches, they would have some complaint, but their complaints as far as I can see it are these: If people starve, and can be starved out of their immorality to accept some dogma, then the work of God will continue, and the government gives- But without proselytizing... And; because all are taxed, supposedly equally, people are compelled to do good, and because that goodness comes at a cost, most who pay taxes for good, to see good done for the evil they find offensive, they then have less to give and less reason to give to the churches, and this limits the good churches can do, the converts they can save, and the surplus they can enjoy...
If so many follow their empty bellies into a belief in Christ; what does it matter if a few follow their millions into hell since they are all doing the will of God; but government trying to do good badly make tough competition for churches doing good as a hobby...With Unions, the shoe is on the other foot... Government does not do its job of achieving a more perfect union, and does all within it power to prevent unity- and all of the goods- promised in the preamble of the constitution, again, out of an unlisted principal to which all subscribe, that good will be the ultimate product of our free enterprise economy...The government does not defend the workers from exploitation, and in defense of its prerogative to do just that, it prevents the unions from being effective at all... So; by the same argument, the religious institutions are within their rights to demand the exclusive ability to good whether they do it or not, since religion is older than reason, and government is reason, supposedly...
Comment: #7
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:40 AM
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