Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fear Itself

Michael Steele recently stated that the government has never created a job. This is typical of the Republican response to this Obama administration stimulus package. The Republicans have repeatedly referred to the stimulus package as a "spending" package. The Republicans have also seen fit to equate the stimulus package with FDR's new deal. The link, according to them, is that FDR's spending bills extended the depression and they make the argument that Obama's plan will do the same.

There are a couple of a fallacies in the Republican argument. First of all, the New Deal did not extend the Depression. FDR came in to office with an unemployment rate at well over 20%. While the rate fluctuated for the next ten years, it did generally go down and never again reached the levels of the previous administration. In fact unemployment had decreased to the low double digit range before the start of WWII. The second fallacy in the argument involves job creation. The Republicans credit WWII with ending the Depression. It was true that the war did stimulate spending and get everyone working, but the majority of those new jobs were government funded. Basically, if the government had hired millions of men to join the armed services and precipitated a massive military build up, even without the war, the results would have been the exactly the same.

So while the Republicans bash the current administration for spending money to try and stimulate the economy, they point to the biggest governmental spending program in history as the real cure for the Depression. While the Republicans are doing their best to try and minimize the role of FDR in ending the depression, or at least lessening the effects of the depression, they have unsuspectingly contradicted their own argument. As history has shown us, sometimes the government has to spend money in order to get the economy moving in a positive direction.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Walk and Chew Gum

I have heard a lot of talk lately about President Obama taking on too many problems at once. The economy is the major issue that the country is facing at this point. Candidate Obama made it clear that the President has to be able to tackle multiple issues at once during the campaign. While John McCain was "suspending" his campaign to "rush" back to Washington to work on the bailout package, Obama said, that as President, you have to be able to handle multiple crises at once.

It seems that some people are unable to make the logical link between our economic health and the spiraling cost of healthcare. One of the biggest problems that businesses face is paying for healthcare. From the big three automakers to the small business owner, paying for health insurance for workers can represent the difference between survival and bankruptcy. That doesn't even account for the almost 50 million Americans who do not have healthcare coverage.

If we do not improve our education system, the cost to society will only increases in the long run. The fact that only 50% of African-American students graduate high school represents a massive systemic failure. The cost increases when we allow a generation after generation of young adults to enter adulthood ill-prepared to compete for jobs or to care properly for themselves and inevitably, their children. The cycle of poverty can only be broken if the government takes steps to intervene in the process. Education isn't the only answer to the problem, but it is an important factor in breaking the cycle.

The longer we wait, the worse the problem gets. If now is not the time to address these problems, then when is the time? George Bush spoke on many occasions of the record breaking number of months of growth that took place during his administration. If that were the case, then why wasn't some of that money used for education? Why weren't some of those dollars used for healthcare? According to the Vice President, 9/11 was the reason for that. We were forced to go to war and so our priorities had to change. I don't believe that they would have taken any real steps in those areas, but my point is that even during "good" economic times we have never taken any real steps to address these issues.

The President is trying to make good on the promises he made during his campaign. It is very clear that our current economic crisis is his top priority. However, there are many other pressing issues that also need his attention. We are engaged in two wars, the Middle East conflicts continues to demand our attention, two nuclear nations (Pakistan and North Korea) are potential powder kegs, the drug wars in Mexico are now spilling over our borders, etc., etc., etc. The truth is that the President faces a myriad of problems. It is not only shortsighted but illogical for people to expect him to only handle one thing at a time. The President has explained his reasoning for wanting to change the healthcare system and improve education. They are tied to the long term growth and viability of our nation. Asking the President of the United States to be myopic in his approach is simply moronic.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Glenn Beck Wants AIG to Keep All the Bonuses.

Glenn Beck, needs to stop crying, it’s disgusting. It didn’t work for John Boehner, so I hope he just cuts that shit out. I get it. So Glenn Beck is upset. Theatrically, vein neck-throbbingly troubled over what he characterizes as a disregard for the rule of law by Congress.
Yeah, I can’t stop laughing either.
Glenn Beck is suddenly upset about lack of respect for rule of law since Bush and Cheney blew town.

Glenn Beck (and not be outdone, brother blowhard in arms Rush Limbaugh) are calling the legislature’s blindingly fast response to the public anger over the 165 million dollars worth of AIG bonuses “mob rule” and “fake populist anger.”
Okay I’ve stopped laughing.

Glenn Beck says he doesn't like what AIG has done. But he calls what the Congress is doing about it “mob rule.” Bringing himself to call it “mob rule” instead of “legislation” or more broadly, “oversight” is what allows Glenn Beck to defend the thieves at AIG and cravenly protect their bonuses without looking like an out-and-out asshole at first glance.

We here at Random Thoughts love to take second looks at assholes… because that’s the only way you can tell you’re looking at an asshole.

Glenn Beck is an asshole.

Glenn Beck wants AIG to keep their bonuses. Glenn Beck thinks you me and everyone we know should just shut up and pay our taxes so these crooks can pay themselves for a job not done. Because Beck’s reasoning follows a strict code of conduct where Rich people are concerned: Bend over.
Glenn Beck is welcome to keep on taking the abuse.
But interestingly, this greedy little shill, who never met an overreaching unethical corporation he didn’t love, is suddenly okay with taxes and the waste thereof.

How is the Congress responding with record speed to its constituents concerns (But don’t forget 6 Democrats voted against the bill today, along with 87 Republicans –who the hell do they represent anyway?) mob rule?
Apparently, Beck has to then pretend to hate mob rule more than anything else in order to make his point.

Glenn Beck said yesterday: “The mob in Washington is getting everybody… They are attempting to void legally binding contracts... Our principles and our rule of law must trump the emotion of the day.”


As I’ve already said in my last post, and as has been established by just about every news organization except Fox News, the departments at AIG receiving these bonuses are responsible for the company’s overextension, peril and losses.
These executives who are receiving bonuses didn’t honor their contracts.

But Glenn Beck wants AIG to keep all the bonuses.

Glenn Beck thinks upholding someone else's contracts is more important than the American taxpayer.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

“All or Part” Is Not Nearly Enough.

Ed Liddy, a man making $1 a year as the new head of insurance giant AIG said that some of his executives have begun returning all or part of bonuses they were paid, totaling some $165,000,000.

I don’t think it’s a magnanimous, charitable or an honest act. -That executives are willing to give back money they didn’t earn, is an act of contrition made possible only by the fact that the average American is out for blood and politicians are listening fearfully to the collective outrage.

Imagine that you’ve lost your job and then your home. Imagine that you read in a newspaper on the way to an unemployment office that executives at an insurance company are being given bonuses. Imagine that those executives are the same business people responsible for billions of losses of dollars reflected in your 401k or stock vested pension plan. Imagine the nightmare of 21st century America. Imagine our America, imagine our world today my friends. Our world; where the unethical abuses and criminality of the financial elite bankrupts faraway nations like Iceland.

Just because executives signed contracts that were negotiated before shareholders and the public knew the criminal negligence they were undertaking on a daily basis, doesn’t mean those agreements should be honored. The contracts in question were not honored by the executives who signed them: bonuses are not given out for failures and losses. These contracts are part and parcel at the heart of the problem in the modern financial world. These contracts are in and of themselves fraudulent. If we the people had not bailed out AIG, those self same contracts would not be worth the paper on which they were signed.

Yet Ed Liddy wants the contracts to be honored and paid, -for fear of losing institutional knowledge.

These AIG executives who constructed failed creative investment instruments and greedily gambled on securitized mortgage packages should be incentivized to remain at AIG in lieu of
The mandate from Liddy to AIG should have been along the lines of a command to straighten the mess out, or he'd then open the door for the cops and federal government:
Fix the garbled scams originating at AIG or throw the executives in jail and wring the details out of those financiers in a lengthy trial.

I’ve been saying it since October: not enough people are going to jail over these crimes. If it was known that a certain man stole a $50 at gun point, there’d be no question of his arrest, but in the world of finance, thieves operate openly and are emboldened to break more laws to get at more money under the guise of propping up a so-called wounded financial and banking system.

House Democratic leaders announced plans for a vote tomorrow on legislation to reclaim the bonuses indirectly by taxing 91 percent of the AIG executive bonuses and also other bail out recipients.

That’s just fucking stupid.

And it’s probably not even constitutional. What the government should do is take all of the money back and start prosecuting everyone involved. Not enough people are going to jail over this financial meltdown. They should never have gotten a penny, not any of them. I have not agreed with any part of this bail out. Not for the automakers, not for these crooks at AIG.

Bail out the American worker.
The American worker is in debt. The American worker is the one being taxed for the bail out. It’s the American worker’s own money. Let the American worker’s tax-backed bail out trickle up to AIG and others, otherwise, put a someone from the treasury department in charge of companies like AIG, and make them report monthly to the congress.

Make them accountable to us. All or part of our money back is not nearly enough.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Surprise, Surprise

The surprising answer to yesterday's mystery is none other than everyone's favorite conservative mouthpiece Pat Buchanan. I guess it just goes to show you that even a broken clock is right twice a day. I'm reprinting a piece that I wrote last year after Pat Buchanan had written an article entitlted "Wake Up, Whitey". I think the post pretty much speaks for itself. We can enjoy the brief moments of clarity from folks like Buchanan, but let's not forget who he is.

Barack Obama's speech on race has allowed much more honest commentary from the press. There have been a string of articles either praising or criticizing the speech, but at least there has been a dialogue about the subject. It has allowed a lot of pundits to weigh in with their thoughts about the issues of race in the country, which is definitely a good thing. I believe that Pat Buchanan wrote the definitive article about the subject yesterday and I just wanted to add my comments to highlight that fact. Here are some of the salient passages:

"White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to"
Pat Buchanan does speak for "White America". He has run for President twice and come within 50,000,000 votes or so of becoming Commander-in-Chief. If that doesn't qualify you to represent the entire White population of America, I don't know what does.

"First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known. Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American."
I couldn't agree more. The Africans who signed up for that pleasure cruise across the ocean (during which many died) to have a better life here in America, I'm sure would be very grateful to learn that their offspring have done so well. I know that there is nothing I would like more than to be violently kidnapped and separated from my family and friends and taken half way around the world (if I was fortunate enough to survive the trip) and be forced into slavery so that in 300 years my descendants would be viewed as almost equal by the racial majority. Where do I sign up? I'm pretty sure that I've got some friends who want in this deal as well.

"Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ’60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream."
Damn, Pat. You're right again. Black people are downright ungrateful. Although all the programs that you mention (welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs) have given a lot more money to Whites than Blacks (and those are government programs funded by tax dollars, meaning that people of every race contributed to them, but let's not argue over details), we should be grateful to have been included when the government was giving out those freebies. There is nothing that people love more than being allowed to subsist below the poverty level.

"Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks — with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas — to advance black applicants over white applicants."
You know what Pat? You are right on point again. Blacks should have been happy with separate but equal (damn that liberal Supreme Court). I mean forcing people to actually integrate is downright disgusting. I know that there were lots of schools in the South that couldn't wait to let Black people in. In fact they used have huge welcoming committees for them (usually a lot of soldiers and people holding signs and yelling). White America was waiting with open arms to embrace it's long abused brothers. If only the Government hadn't interfered so much, the country would be much better off today. Don't you think? I know Pat and I do.

"Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks. We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?"
Not enough gratitude, that's the problem with this country today. If we could all just be a little more thankful, then all of our problems would disappear. I'm not talking about the people who actually received help, I'm talking about all the Black people in America. There should be a national "Thank a White Person" day. That way all Black people would be able to properly thank the Whites for all the hard work they have done on their behalf. Oh, let's just make it a month. I'm thinking February. I hear there's nothing going on that month anyway.

"Let him go to Altoona and Johnstown, and ask the white kids in Catholic schools how many were visited lately by Ivy League recruiters handing out scholarships for “deserving” white kids."
Yeah, shouldn't the Ivy league schools be trying harder to get more White kids into their schools?

"As for racism, its ugliest manifestation is in interracial crime, and especially interracial crimes of violence. Is Barack Obama aware that while white criminals choose black victims 3 percent of the time, black criminals choose white victims 45 percent of the time?"
Another example of how lazy Blacks are. Instead of trying to find a rich Black person, Black criminals just pick the most convenient target around.

Pat and I are in total agreement. I can't wait for his next article to show us all the light once again. I'll end my article with this:
To all Black people, it is time to be more grateful to your benefactors. And to all White people I can only apologize for the delay. But I promise that if you just have a little patience, your gratitude is on its way. So don't be surprised if one day a black man, woman or child comes up to you and says thank you. "For what", you'll say. "For just being you", will be the answer. "For just being you".

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mystery Man

On Harball today, Chris Matthews was reviewing the love fest between John King and Dick Cheney this past Sunday. Matthews showed a clip of Cheney defending the war in Iraq by saying that we have met our goals there. By "our goals" he was referring to setting up an independent Democratic society. He clearly has a faulty memory because running around setting up Democracies was never our stated goal. I remember the talk of WMD's and ties to 9/11 and potential acquisition of nuclear technology (remember the famed yellow cake memo), but creating a "democratically governed Iraq" was not mentioned. John King never once called him on that fact on Sunday, but as the previous post by SJ pointed out, "journalists" no longer seem willing to speak the truth to power.

I am getting away from my main point, Matthews had a couple of people on to comment on the interview and he asked them about the answer that Cheney had given regarding Iraq. I will now quote in full the responses of one of the pundits:

"What the Vice President overlooked was the price of this war. 4,000 dead Americans, 30,000 wounded, 100,000 dead Iraqis, 100,000 widows and kids without fathers, 4 million refugees, the Christian community cut to pieces over there with half of them driven into Syria. It's been a horribly costly thing. Those people would have been better off if we'd left them alone. I do not believe that we have the right to attack a country that has not threatened us, want war with us or attack us in order to deprive it of weapons it does not have"

This same pundit continued later:

"He (Saddam Hussein) was deterred. He was in a box by 2001. He was no threat to the United States of America. If he were a threat why didn't the Jordanians and Turks and the others want us to invade? Nobody over there wanted this war."

Fairly coherent arguments against the war and against the statements of the Vice President, I would say. It's not that we haven't said it before, but it's always nice to hear it from someone else. So who is the mystery man? You'll just have to wait until tomorrow. And no peaking.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tucker Carlson Is Disintegrating.

It must drive Tucker Carlson insane, that a comedian is grabbing headlines by doing what he himself and all the other so called “analysts,” whether they be on the Right or the Left are supposed to be doing on Cable news:
Exposing incompetence and factual inaccuracies in the news media, getting at the factual truth, irrespective of where it leads.
Jon Stewart is doing Tucker Carlson’s job, Bill O’Reilly’s job, and Rush Limbaugh’s job, -if their jobs are in fact what they claim their jobs are… alerting the American public to wrongdoing, corruption and separating the facts from political spin.

It’s never too early to be nostalgic.
Not for Tucker Carlson. He seems to pine for the days when everything was a matter of opinion, and nobody questioned you when you did something as cravenly pathetic as dismissing an unpleasant fact by claiming bias, or citing the shadowy Liberal media. Carlson seems to pine for the days when Republicans and Conservatives could avoid answering questions by simply accusing someone of being a Democrat or a Liberal.
Tucker Carlson is pining for the days before November 2008, otherwise why would he continue as usual?

Jon Stewart identified serious flaws and unethical behavior on the part of the financial news journalism business over the last two weeks. It wasn’t exactly ground breaking television. Stewart simply pointed out what people like Tucker Carlson were ignoring. It’s nothing that anybody with any sense didn’t already know anyway, to quote Dick Cheney: “So?”
Predictably, Tucker Carlson, (who has had his ass handed to him by Jon Stewart in the past,) took issue with the much covered face-off with Jim Kramer this past week and called Stewart a “Partisan Hack,” this morning which is by the way, the same term Jon Stewart used to describe Tucker Carlson a few years back on “Crossfire” to his face.

According to Tucker Carlson, Jon Stewart’s grilling of Jim Kramer is purely motivated by a supposed allegiance to the Obama Administration. According to Tucker Carlson, Jon Stewart’s vicious critique of CNBC’s financial reporting (with the exception of David Faber’s work) is motivated only by what Carlson alleges as Stewart’s “hostility” to the news network’s opposition to President Obama’s economic plans.

Actually, CNBC has not issued a statement that it in any way supports or opposes any plan by the Obama administration, so it’s a phony assertion on Tucker Carlson's part, or an unfounded opinion at best, calculated to create a fake motive for Jon Stewart whose criticism he is attempting to neutralize.

This morning Tucker Carlson called Jon Stewart a partisan hack, on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” show. But as is typical with “partisan hacks” like Tucker Carlson, he is in fact doing what he is accusing Jon Stewart of doing. Carlson is purposefully missing the point of the Kramer-Stewart title fight this week. Stewart’s interview of Kramer was a means to an end, and that end was a direct question for all of us to seek an answer to:

Jon Stewart is asking whose side is CNBC and the broader financial news industry on?
Specifically, does the financial news media serve the interests and needs of the viewers who rely on it for information, or the global investment industry it proclaims it covers?

Tucker Carlson isn’t doing his job.
He among many others, should have led the charge on skewering other news outlets and even his own at MSNBC, for their collusion, naïve credulity, ineptitude and unethical promotion of PR smokescreens that the ratings companies and the investment houses and corporations have been substituting in the place of information and fact.

Watching Carlson this morning was bearing witness to a sad time-lapsed disintegration of a formerly adroit commentator on screen. I didn’t necessarily agree with him in the past, but nonetheless respected his grasp of the facts and knowledge of history and legislation. This morning he degenerated into nonsensical babbling and taunting in an attempt to diminish the gravity of what happened this past week:

A comedian took on the responsibilities that journalists are too scared to live up to these days for fear of upsetting their corporate paymasters.

People like me, my collaborator on this blog, people like Jack Jodell, Manifesto Joe, and countless other unpaid, anonymous writers and thinkers are also doing Tucker Carlson’s job every day on the web.

We are speaking the truth to power.

It’s time Tucker Carlson stood up and started doing his job on behalf of the citizens of this country instead of attacking comedians for pointing out the truth and asking the questions he just doesn’t have the guts to ask.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Bacon Brothers

I have a couple of things to discuss briefly tonight. I'm going to resort to the Colbert Report format of a "Wag of the Finger". My first WOTF is to Governor Sanford of South Carolina. He has stated that he will take the stimulus money that should be targeted for education and instead spend it on debt reduction. His justification is that the state should be fiscally responsible and not spend money (even federal money) that it does not have. The funny thing is that I don't remember him turning down any other federal money while the Bush administration ran up the largest deficits in US history. Did he turn down the money that went to defense contractors because the US government was running at a deficit? Of course not. But now that a Democratic president is offering his state money for education (which according to the governor is clearly not as important as paying off the state debt), he has all of a sudden decided to pray at the altar of fiscal responsibility. Governor Sanford is clearly trying to position himself for a run at the presidency in 2012 and he is trying to step over the bodies of the almost 8,000 teachers who would have to be fired if the stimulus money is not used. As I stated in a previous post, I expect the state legislature to over rule the Governor. However this stance is on its face so ridiculous that I think along with over ruling the Governor, the state legislature should also look into starting impeachment hearings. If purposefully denying your citizens of critical services such as education does not rise to the level of high crime or misdemeanor, then I don't know what does.

My second WOTF goes to the Obama justice department. Today they have done away with the "enemy combatant" label. Basically, by applying that label to individuals, President Bush was allowed to indefinitely detain any individual without charges. His justification being that those detained individuals posed an imminent threat to the health and welfare of America. Of course they never had to charge those people with anything, the president and the president alone had the power to apply that label. You would think that getting rid of that label would mean that those so designated individuals would now have to be charged with something and would have their day in court. Of course you'd be wrong. Those former "enemy combatants" are now just indefinite detainees. The still have not been charged, there is currently no plan to charge them, they still have no court dates, they still have no rights. One of the "enemy combatants" is a US citizen. One of them has a green card. My main desire for this presidency was that we would have an Executive branch that acts in accordance with and respects the Constitution. Where the hell is the man who said the choice between safety and our ideals is a false one? When our government stoops to the level of a Central American dictatorship (and I know that may seem harsh, but what do you call it when the government can basically make any of it's citizens disappear), we are all in danger. I for one expected more from this administration. I take that back, I expect more. I expect them to reverse this decision in the coming days, weeks or months. I expect them to do more than just try to put lipstick on a pig, because as the president told us during the campaign, it's still a pig.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

How Long Will We Waste Time Figuring Out What Rush Limbaugh Really Means?

"What's so strange about being honest?" was Rush Limbaugh’s defense regarding his statements wishing for President Obama’s failure. “Honesty” would be strange indeed coming from this career hypocrite, who amongst many other things, frequently accused Democrats of being unpatriotic when they criticized George W. Bush over the last eight years.

First of all, hoping someone fails is not criticism. I don’t recall one elected Democratic Party politician or appointed official ever wishing failure, of any kind, on George W. Bush. I’m being very generous when I say “I don’t recall,” because I’m pretty sure no one said it during his two terms in office… And if someone did say it?
They were wrong to say it.
I disagreed with George W. Bush’s philosophy, and was increasingly convinced of his inability to lead and manage government with every successive month that he was in office… but I always hoped he’d somehow turn it all around and surprise me for the good of the nation and the world.


Because I’m not a fat idiot who crawls under the covers when my chosen party isn’t in power. I know that regardless of party affiliations we’re all of us, every man woman and child, citizens of the same country, and that means our fortunes are thrown together, each and every one of us...
-unless you’re Rich, which Rush Limbaugh certainly is.

But I’ll tell you this: I am willing to believe Rush Limbaugh meant he hoped only President Obama fails.

I’m willing to believe it because it is just as bad as saying he hopes the country fails at this apocalyptic juncture that Reaganomics, the Republican controlled House of the 90s and the last eight years have brought the country to. I’m willing to believe that’s only what Rush Limbaugh meant because while President Obama may not think of himself, or may not be “Louis the XIV” as the GOP is trying so desperately hard to maintain that he thinks he is; Barack Obama is still the President of the United States. That means he’s still Rush Limbaugh’s President too and he’s still every single American’s President, be they Conservatives (btw -Rush Limbaugh is not a “Conservative” he’s a pro-Establishment, status quo-promoting shill) or otherwise. The imaginary Obama administration failure that Rush Limbaugh hopes, and probably prays for, would have direct consequences for the country and its future. Working people, the underemployed, the uninsured, the unemployed, the poor, students, unionized labor, everyone at the gates of ruin would suffer in America…
-unless you’re Rich, which Rush Limbaugh certainly is.

Let’s face it. What Rush Limbaugh probably means is that he hopes the Democrats in power bollix the economy up worse than their predecessors did. In that way, maybe the GOP will stand a chance of making a Palin/Jindal ticket something other than an Onion headline in 2012.

This is all just a bunch of sour grapes from an angry little man who may have woken up from an Oxycontin haze to realize that a Democrat was sitting in the White House and his earlier hallucinations of a Democratic majority in the Senate was no mirage.

And Michael Steele, the RNC party chairman rushed to apologize to this man?

Rush Limbaugh is now pretending that his stated hope for President Obama or his administration’s failures is just part of “criticism.”
Hoping someone fails is not criticism.
I’ll illustrate my point in case Anne Coulter’s reading this blog:

a) “I hope Rush Limbaugh’s radio show goes off the air. I hope he’s someday prosecuted for his attempts at drug trafficking. I hope the GOP stops kowtowing to this blowhard and starts representing small business people again.”

b) “I think Rush Limbaugh’s radio show is a propaganda vehicle for the moneyed Rich elite of this country to promote legislation, policies and deregulation favorable to them and their investments. Rush Limbaugh frequently broadcasts errors in statistics and misleads his listeners when it is beneficial to his pro Establishment agenda. He often presents his opinions as facts. His show can be qualified as entertainment, but it’s not journalism.”

Item “a)” is not criticism. No matter how strongly I feel it or how right I may think I am.

How long will we waste time figuring out what Rush Limbaugh really means? How much time will we waste trying to figure out whether or not he’s a bigot when he’s moonlighting as sports announcer; or whether he's making fun of Michael J Fox or Parkinson's Disease; or whether he wants the country to fully implode on a Democrat’s watch so the same Republicans who made this all possible can step in again and keep giving the top 1% of a percent in the country tax breaks you and I could only dream of?

20 million listeners take what Rush Limbaugh says on the air at face value every day and curiously, -so do I.

I won’t waste my time trying to figure out what he really means. Rush Limbaugh is in the talking business, so I suppose the real question is:
Why does he end up having to explain himself so often?


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Same As The Old Boss

The Republican response to all proposals by the Obama administration has certainly been consistent. As espoused by Bobby Jindal in his response to the President's speech last week and echoed by every speaker at the CPAC conference, the answer to our problems is not increased government aid but less government, more tax cuts and greater individual responsibility. This is the formula that led us to our current situation, but while some Republicans have accepted some responsibility for the current mess, they claim that it was the fault of the Bush administration for not adhering to these conservative principles.

The Republican leadership has railed against the administration for it's "out of control spending". They have called the President every thing from a socialist to a radical communist. They have accused him of trying to setup a "European style government" here in America. I'm frankly amazed that they haven't called him to task for his choice in dog. What the Republicans have failed to do however, is to tell the public what their vision of America is. They have talked about a tax cut only stimulus and smaller government and the lack of faith in the federal government to solve people's problem, but they have not told the American people what that would look like. Bobby Jindal used the example of the federal response to Katrina to illustrate the ineffectiveness of federal government in dealing with local problems. He did not, of course, tell the American people what the alternative would have been.

The states currently face massive shortfalls in their budgets and money provided by the stimulus package is the only way for them to maintain critical services. Some Republican governors have said that they will refuse the stimulus money because they believe that it is wasteful and does not effectively address the economic crisis. The stimulus package provides for the governors to be over ruled by their state legislatures in regards to accepting the money. I have no doubt that those states will end up accepting the money because economic reality will always win out over political ideology.

So what would America look like if the Republican version of the stimulus were enacted? We can look to a state like Louisiana for an example. When Bobby Jindal took over, the public schools were ranked 21st in the nation, this year they are ranked 35th. Fiscal conservatism is a fine ideal, but what is the cost in human terms? New York City has a $700 million shortfall for education funding for the upcoming fiscal year. Without the money from the stimulus, the city would be unable to pay for thousands of teachers. To republicans, that wouldn't be much of a problem. They would simply say that economic reality is that those in public school would simply have to do with less. The stimulus also provides for extended unemployment benefits. The Republican alternative would have no relief for those whose benefits have expired. The stimulus package provides money for health care. What would republicans say to those states who do not have the money to provide health care to the elderly? They would say that is the cost of fiscal responsibility.

The reality is that without help from the federal government, the states would have to cut back so severely on public services that the effects would be felt by almost every citizen. Services like garbage pick up would have to be cut back. Policemen and firemen would have to be laid off. The services provided by social workers, teachers, transit workers, health care providers and others would have to be dramatically scaled back. That is the reality of the republican alternative. It is the same reality that we have lived with for the past 30 years. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. Newt Gingrich's big proposal to combat the economic crisis is to eliminate the capital gains tax!!#!?? How does that help middle and lower class Americans through this crisis? The answer is it doesn't, of course, but then when in the last 30 years have the republicans cared about that.

The reason that the Republicans refuse to illustrate their vision of what America would look like under their leadership is because they know that the American people would never buy it. So instead of laying out a viable alternative, they attack the President and his policies. Spending! they scream. Socialism! they bellow. Communism! they chant. But at the end of the day, they have no new answers to the problems that were created over the past 30 years. As our economy contracts to levels not seen in over a decade, the republican response is more of the same. The rich will eventually help the poor if we make them rich enough. That mantra however, does not feed or educate our children. It does not get medicine to the elderly. It does not keep former working families out of soon to be disappearing shelters.

The republicans pray for the failure of the presidents policies so that they can be returned to power. They realize the consequences if Obama fails, but they don't care. Power is their ultimate goal. The power to say who the government can help and who gets left behind. That is the reason for their opposition to the current administration. It is not about the amount of money being spent, but about where it is targeted.