Serial hurter 

Was Jack the Ripper a Republican? Some historians say "no," pointing out that Jack's crimes — all those we know of — were committed in London, suggesting that the perpetrator was an Englishman, and unlikely to be affiliated with an American political party. But many rich Republicans visited England in the closing years of the 19th century, other scholars note, while working-class Americans — Democrats — could never have afforded such a trip. So, if Jack the Ripper was an American tourist — a theory not disproved — he almost certainly was a Republican.

Even more suggestive is the similarity in modus operandi. Jack performed his atrocities on the most vulnerable members of society, people at the bottom of the economic and social ladder. There's no record the monster ever had so much as a cross word with anyone from the upper class, a class to which Jack himself may have belonged. Does the pattern sound familiar?

Last week, Rep. John Boozman voted against extending unemployment benefits to Arkansans who've lost their jobs. It was the 20th such vote he's cast in the last eight years. He didn't bother trying to justify the others, except by citing party loyalty, but this time, as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, he feigned remorse, saying that he actually favored an extension of benefits, but only if the benefits were paid for by penalizing Americans in other ways, such as restricting their ability to sue incompetent physicians. It's the Republican Party line. Boozman never gets far from it.

He and his fellows can endure the suffering of the poor with equanimity, but the possibility that a billionaire might have to pay a few dollars more in taxes brings out the tiger in them. The tax cuts for the rich that were enacted during the George W. Bush administration are scheduled to expire Dec. 31. Republicans want to make the tax cuts permanent, adding another trillion dollars or so to the national deficit over the next decade. Contrary to their position on unemployment benefits, they do not propose any offsets to the tax cuts, either. The top one percent of taxpayers would pay 37 percent less in income taxes next year if the cuts are made permanent than if they were allowed to expire. The poorest three-fifths of taxpayers would actually pay more taxes under the Republican plan, because the Republicans don't propose to extend the modest tax relief for the poor that was enacted under President Obama.

Abuse the poor, but leave the rich alone. The Ripper thought like a Republican even if he wasn't registered.


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