'Member When the Economy Tanked? That Was Awesome.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

(I wrote like a crazy person in the run up to that election; I may have thought I was influencing votes. Yeah! Fightin' for democracy!

You'd think that on a day where John McCain said the "fundamentals" of the economy are strong; then, when criticized, given, you know, the 504 point drop in the Dow, said that by "fundamentals" he was referring to the American people - American people, the American worker is the "fundamentals" of the economy about which he was speaking (therefore, making any criticism of the American economy really criticism of the American worker - much like criticizing the 3 trillion dollar Republican War on Iraq is really just hating the troops. You guys are the best!) you'd think that had to be the dumbest, least credible, most indefensible thing a Republican said today.

But it wasn't.

George Allen, on Laura Ingraham's radio show, said the following:

America is addicted to oil. What an elitist point of view. Americans are not addicted to oil. Americans are addicted to freedom.

Elitist is clearly the new epithet - the new "liberal" in the Republican lexicon; Democrats abandoned the high ground on liberal (you know, the belief system of workers and equal rights and civil liberties and justice for all - you know, the things liberals believe in) hopefully, they'll do a better job defending their turf on "elitist." Something like "one of the two political parties fights increases in the minimum wage; hell, one of the two parties is ideologically opposed to the very idea of the minimum wage - and they also happen to be the political party that spent the last 8 years lowering taxes on the MegaRich - and wants to spend the next 4 years doing the same. Would that sound to you like a party that favored the elite? Hmmm?"

But placed here is laugh out loud funny - particularly since I'm almost certain I've heard those exact words, "America is addicted to oil" before...who was it who said that...

Oh yeah, it was in Bush's 2006 State of the Union Address:

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

That's the transcript. It's on the White House website.

So, I guess I was wrong - George Bush is the best friend the elite ever had. And he said it - took a lot of guts for someone from his own party to call him out like that 2 1/2 years later. I look forward to what is sure to be a spirited debate.

we're going to bailout AIG, at a tune of 85 billion dollars
Lehman Brothers just filed for bankruptcy protection
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both got bailed out
The Bear Sterns buyout was federally guaranteed
What happened to "shrinking the federal government to the size of a postage stamp"?

What happened to "making the federal government so small you could drown it in your bathtub"?

Not, as mentioned, that the conservatives ever meant any of that. On gay/lesbian issues, abortion, "decency", drugs, the death penalty, mandatory minimum jail sentences - the Republicans want the government all over the lives of those affected. Always have.

And the military, one notes, still a part of the federal government. Any other wars you guys would like while you still have a few months? Iran? Russia? Spain?

But what about all of those "rugged individualist", "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" "the real problem is not enough personal responsibility" bromides that conservatives love to toss off as eternal truths?

Let me offer this - there are 8 thousand homeowners every single day facing foreclosure. About 4 million homeowners losing their homes during the morgage crisis.

Where's their bailout? I get the AIG bailout, I do. Lot of folks would be hurt without that bailout.

What about the foreclosed upon?

45+ million Americans have no health insurance.

What about them?

If they get sick, can't pay for procedures, for medication, can't pay hospital bills - can they turn to the federal government for bailout? Hell, since 2005 tightened bankruptcy protection so severely, that level of safety has diminished. I mean, unless you're Lehman Brothers.

Real wages are down. Lower than they were 30 years ago. Executive pay up. Disparity between UberRich and everyone else never greater. John McCain's solution, written about in this space, is to cut taxes for people making a quarter million dollars a year and up.

Conservative dogma, sold relentlessly as gospel by the Republicans, the media, and most of the corporately controlled Democrats is that financial markets self regulate. At the cornerstone of the conservative ascendancy, the conservative dominance of the federal government of the United States for the past quarter century+ (we've had two Democratic presidents, and conservative ones at that, in the past 40 years) is the idea that unfettered capitalism is the essence of America - to criticize it, to talk about economic justice, became engaging in "class warfare" and got you branded a communist. The lessons of the 1920s were forgotten; the drive to deregulate had fewer and fewer obstacles; and we created a have/have not society that reached Gilded Age levels. Republicans driving the train and most Democrats right behind.

And here we are.

How's your money market fund? How's your 401K? How's your bank doing?

Income down. Stock market down. Dollar weaker.

How much does it take to fill your gas tank? How much did it take before the Republicans 3 trillion dollar Iraq War?

How much do your groceries cost?

Are you better off than you were four years ago? 8 years ago?

So - what to do about the economy?

The Republicans are onto something with this social distribution of wealth. During World War II, the tax rate for Americans who made a million bucks a year was 94%.

Conservative orthodoxy would say that should have caused the economy to shrink. What is the incentive for people to continue to produce if their incomes are taxed? It's socialism, by god - and socialism failed!

The GNP, in constant dollars, was 88.6 billion in '39. It grew to 135 billion by '45. We've never had that type of growth before or since.

Perhaps, with the new regulatory zeal being shown by the conservatives - with John McCain, who until, like 17 hours ago said that regulations were the problem with the economy - now saying we need more of them - we'll be able to roll back some of the harm done by the laissez-faire acolytes.

Maybe the Republicans will pursue corporate accountability and corporate regulation with the governmental aggressiveness they've pursued marijuana users. That would be terrific.

I'm coming around on this whole "maverick" thing. Now, if we can get Sarah Palin to come out in favor of animal rights...or same sex marriage...or abortion in the case of rape...or evolution...

George Bush's approval rating is 19%.

Is it not required of John McCain to detail the decisions made by the Bush Administration that he disagreed with and the policies of the Bush Administration he will not continue?

Simply calling yourself an agent of change really isn't enough, right?

Particularly when your campaign is being run by the entrenched Bush establishment.

From today's Washington Post "Far from being a group of outsiders to the Republican Party power structure, it (the McCain campaign) is now run largely by skilled operatives who learned their crafts in successive Bush campaigns and various jobs across the Bush government over the past eight years."

Last week, almost half of Americans believed a Great Depression was somewhat likely.

We've had a quarter century of a two pronged conservative belief system becoming entrenched as collective American wisdom:

1. Expansionist American military presence throughout the world. Culimating in a 3 trillion dollar Republican Iraq War.

2. Corporate deregulation. Culminating in what is now a proposal for a 700 billion dollar Wall Street bailout.

Was it worth it?

Ike, you know, the only Republican President from 1932-68, a time that encompassed (1) overcoming the Great Depression (2) winning World War II (3) the civil rights movement - Ike said Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the houses of its children. This is not a way of life…Under the cloud of war, it is humanity hanging itself on a cross of iron.

Even were there good evidence of WMDs (nope) or an Iraq connection to 9/11 (nope) or that Hussein's brutal dictatorship was quanitifiably different than other brutal dictatorships the US has endorsed, trained, supported, or ignored throughout its history into today (nope) - was it worth it?

Why don't the fiscally conservative Republicans - the ones who oppose increases in the minimum wage - the ones who oppose universal health care - on the grounds that we can't afford it, the ones who say that the Democrats are always wanting to "tax and spend", stand up and say "this 3 trillion dollar Iraq War has been too expensive; it was a mistake. We were wrong."

Aren't McCain/Palin required to do that to call themselves mavericks?

The debates begin Friday. Will they be required to do that?

The money we spend on the military is money we don't spend elsewhere. The money we'll be giving away to the bankers will be money we won't spend elsewhere.

Make McCain/Palin demonstrate they understand that in ways the Bush Administration has constantly proven it does not. Make McCain/Palin go on record in their assent or disagreement with the above Eisenhower quotation. Hell, let's see if Palin can identify the speaker.

In fact - let's see if Obama/Biden are willing to go on record as agreeing with Eisenhower. Before we commit to however many more years in Iraq - before we commit to however many more billions of dollars both parties are promising to throw at the military-industrial complex (another Eisenhower coined term) before we spend another 700 billion dollars to give away to giant corporations while those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed will remain that way andwill be told they are that way because of their own failures, their own weaknesses - their own lack of individual responsibility and personal character --

Before we do that - let's take the opportunity of the debate season to see if we have a candidate in 2008 who is as progressive as Ike was in 1958.

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