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Ten Telltale Signs of GOP Disease

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You've probably seen the posters or read the pamphlets that warn of the telltale signs of sexually transmitted diseases. You know, lovely symptoms like inflamed genitals. There should be similar warnings about another epidemic threatening America""dreadful GOP disease.

As a public service, here are the ten telltale signs of Republican plague:

1. You keep lying, even when it's apparent to everyone that you're lying: Insist that the situation in Iraq is not a civil war; Bush tax cuts are good for the economy; Republicans are fostering Democracy. Repeat things that are not only untrue, but are absurd: George W. Bush cares about civil rights. You can't stop; you're sick; you're a Republican.

2. No matter how bad things get, assert that President Bush is doing a great job. Even when there are obvious screw-ups""the reaction to 9/11, the occupation of Iraq, and the response to Katrina""block all meaningful investigations, no matter how impartial. Steadfastly maintain that Dubya knows what he's doing, even when it's apparent to most of the public that he not only doesn't have a plan to fix the problem, he doesn't get that there is a problem. You're inflexible; you're stuck; you're a Republican.

3. Keep repeating that the situation in Iraq is getting better. Say that you see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if there's no light and it's a bottomless pit. Tell Americans that Iraqis want us there and our troops believe in their mission, even when polls say that Iraqis ask us to leave and our troops want to come home. Insist that the press isn't reporting the good news, even when the only positive stories are those planted by your toadies. You're strident; you're in denial; you're a Republican.

4. Don't accept any criticism, no matter how non-partisan or well intended. Call your critics ignorant, devious, unwitting pawns of sinister forces. Suggest that anyone who criticizes George Bush, Dick Cheney, or Don Rumsfeld is unpatriotic; that they are aiding and abetting Al Qaeda. You're relentless; you're a fear-monger; you're a Republican.

5. Stay on offense. No matter what happens, keep pushing your agenda. Remember Karl Rove's second commandment: When in doubt, attack. If one of your tactics is blocked, such as private social security accounts, immediately go to the next, reduction of entitlements. Never let your enemies see you sweat. Never forget that you owe your supporters, big. You're aggressive; you're ruthless; you're a Republican.

6. Insist that you are pro-women and pro-family. As "proof," periodically take the time to parade all the "babes" in the Bush Administration, Condoleezza Rice and Harriet Miers. Then take action on every level to ensure that women remain second-class citizens and that American families get the shaft. Insist that the state rather than a woman and her family should make private medical decisions. You're macho; you're sexist; you're a Republican,

7. Tell everyone that you're the Party of peace, the Party that wants to spread democracy throughout the world. Then create the largest peacetime standing army in US history. Make sure that America spends more on defense than all our possible enemies combined. Relentlessly feed the military-industrial complex. Prowl through the world planting US bases, supporting autocrats, and protecting the interests of multi-national corporations. Preach peace and democracy; practice war and plutocracy. You're predatory; you're imperialist; you're a Republican.

8. Maintain the economy is going great. No matter how bad things get, how large the national debt, or how huge the gap between America's haves and have-nots, push for more tax cuts. Insist that they're a panacea, a modern snake oil that will cure all ills. Keep promising America that good times are just ahead and the yellow-brick road is lined with tax cuts. Talk equality and opportunity; practice elitism and favoritism. You're shameless; you're greedy; you're a Republican.

9. Manipulate the truth. Whenever there is bad news, blame it on the press. Accuse the mass media of distortion; say they aren't telling the whole story. Help them out, make up some good news. Harass reporters at all your press conferences; punish anyone who asks a tough question. Support the illusion that Fox News is fair and balanced and that Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly are impartial commentators. You're duplicitous; you're biased; you're a Republican.

10. Above all, never admit a mistake. Remember Karl Rove's first commandment: Never show weakness. Adopt the motto: only wimps admit mistakes; when the going gets tough, the tough attack their enemies. Say the Bush Administration hasn't made mistakes; it's set lofty goals that take hard, hard work to achieve. Keep your eyes on the stars, your nose to grindstone and both hands protecting your ass. You've no shame; you've contracted an incurable disease; you're a Republican.
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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.
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