Sunday, July 13, 2008

Voodoo After All. Utopia At Last. Something To Whine About.

Turns out that Bush was right.

No, not that Bush. His father.

Once upon a time if you suggested that the way to ensure Americans' prosperity was to lavish the wealthiest citizens and corporations with tax breaks while breaking the back of organized labor and opening up international markets to free trade, you'd be laughed out of the room.

Even the wealthiest individuals and corporate leaders had to temper their rhetoric at first. This was the time when people like George H.W. Bush, seeking the people's votes, slammed Reagan's ridiculous fringe economic ideas as "voodoo economics."

Later, when it seemed that the people could indeed be flim-flammed by a mix of outright lies, patriotic mumbo-jumbo, and insinuations of weak-kneed liberalism, the pretense dissolved and everyone at the top bellied up to the table and helped themselves to a big ol' slice of the pie.

At its peak, greed came out of the shadows altogether. While real wages stagnated and American families, feeling the pinch, went from one job to two, then to three, then to none, a new gilded age of obscene excess emerged.

Now it seems that the bloom is off the rose. Republican Utopia, while fabulously successful at the country club, is not holding its own in the court of public opinion. That trickle-down, deregulate-everything mantra that Reagan rode to power on was exactly what his vice president called it: voodoo.

Or maybe not. Maybe, as McCain's economic brain, Phil Gramm, says, we've simply become a "nation of whiners." "I can't feed my family," we whine. "I can't heat my home," we whine. "I can't afford my medicine," we whine. "My son is dead in Iraq and I'm beginning to think it really was all about oil," we whine.

"It was about oil," Scott McLellan replies.

"Don't listen to him," his former best friend George Bush whines.

Phil Gramm hangs out with people who made out pretty damn good in the last few years. The winners. The architects of our current Republican Utopia. Of course the rest of us seem like whiners to him.

Someone ought to get some whiners together, fill a few minivans, show up at his doorstep, his friends' doorsteps, with some persuasive arguments. Rouse the family from their beds. Line them up on the lawn. Present the arguments. Show the evidence. Ask, whence redress? Our children and grandchildren are going to pay for all that voodoo, remind them. What are these young ones, shivering in their jammies on the fresh-mowed lawn going to pay?

We'll hear some whining then.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Is There Snow In Heaven?

Tony Snow is dead. May he rest in peace.

The Gun Toting Liberal is not sentimental when it comes to death, I'll have you know. I am not among those who develop critical amnesia when a public figure passes this vale of tears. Death is the purchase of us all and no one is entitled to a free pass for his actions while on Earth.

So while I am not happy about Mr. Snow's passing, I won't lie and tell you that I loved this man.

When charming, good-looking men with great hair and gleaming, straight teeth stand up and lie, when they parse terms for torture and defend a fundamentally dishonest and corrupt administration, they damage our nation, our people, and our credibility in the eyes of the world.

Today our nation - and the world - is suffering because of people like Mr. Snow and their willingness to play handmaiden to the great benighted scoundrels of our time.

Watching Mr. Snow on television, I was occasionally struck by the idea that this man might be likable, even charming, had his words to the cameras not represented poverty, death, and despair for all but a few of the wealthiest and most cynical Caesars of our time.

But suppose, like Lee Atwater a generation ago, Snow had plumbed his soul as he prepared to launch it toward the starry dynamo. Would he have found the choices of his life wanting? Would his soul be ready for eternity? Would he be able to meet his creator knowing that he had done his best to protect the least among His children, that he had used his great power to bring love and protection to the powerless?

Would he have about-faced, and mea culpa'ed, and played every last desperate ace he had, like Lee did?

Would Snow melt into (At)water? We can go to the videotape, as they say, to answer this for ourselves. Speculation is not necessary.

And now it's too late for the tall man with the great teeth and hair to take any of it back. May he get his deserved portion in the afterlife, whatever that may be. Nothing more and nothing less.

And may we get ours, America.

You are, as ever, my great love, my beloved country, my brothers, my sisters, my children and elders. We are all God's children and I am doing what I can. I shout to you across the windy playground of our sorrow. Can you hear me?


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eat This. Amnesia 101. Our Dumb Congress.

Laws are like sausages, they say. If you're a fan of either, you should not watch them being made. Now, I like eating sausages as much as the next greasy-blooded, corpulent American. I know how they're made and eat them anyway. I am also a fan of good and honest government, which has been talked about but never made, and I watch that process closely, despite the queasiness it brings.

The law is a sausage you eat at at gunpoint, and I want to know what's being crammed down my gullet, even if I can't stop it from happening. No one can, the theory goes, since we live in a land "of laws, not men."

But that was before. They will say, "before nine eleven," but to me the real change came while the twin towers were still standing; to me it's, "before Cheney and Bush."

We now live in the era of the presidential signing statement. Time after time, in hundreds of cases, the C-Minus Man in the offal office signs a bill into law and then attaches a letter to it saying, "Dear America, go screw yourself. I'll enact this law but I ain't following it. Good luck trying to make me."

And yet we still go on making those damn sausages.

The current Democratic-led Congress is playing out like one of those horror movies where the nubile young woman escapes the clutches of a sociopathic killer and then, instead of running like Hell for the nearest police station, she sits down ten feet from her unconscious assailant for a good cry, while not even bothering to keep her eye on the maniac to make sure he's really down for good.

Our assailant is not down for good, America.

So now we are treated to the spectacle of the Democratic Congress caving in on the only chance we as a nation were likely to get to hear who in Bush's circle devised the massive program of illegal, unconstitutional spying that the large telecommunications companies knowingly facilitated under executive-branch pressure. Given immunity from lawsuits over civil rights violations, Verizon et al will never have to divulge who came to them in the night and asked their help in gutting the constitution.

But that's not what the GTL is sad about today.

You see, the Democrats are at it again, laying down, showing their bellies, not even fighting, and it's sad to say that Obama is right in the thick of it. He'll call the legislation a compromise. Sure, there'll be no justice for the fourth amendment, he says, but the new legislation creates stricter measures on what the president can and cannot do. A little something is better than a whole lot of nothing.

Forgive the vulgarity I am about to use, but there's no better language to say what's coming:

Picture the sunny summer day in the near future when Bush steps to the table in the Rose Garden to sign this shitty piece of legislation into law. Cameras will flash and the corporate media will dutifully report how the Democrats held his feet to the fire, not over the telecommunications companies' complicity in warrantless spying on Americans - that's over, that was the compromise - but for the future "protection" of our "guaranteed rights."

Bush will sign it. It tells him What He May Not Do, or more accurately, What He Must Stop Doing. He will sign it with a smile. The sausage, the gleaming, steaming, tubesteak of freedom
will emerge into the sun.

The president will sign the law, then attach the signing statement daring the country to make him follow it - which he never will, let's face it, America - then he'll grab that glistening sausage, bend us over -

and shove it right up our ass.

Keep your powder dry, America. The real changes we've been hoping for are not yet here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Logic, Republican Style

Frankly, I'm only listening with half an ear to the latest dust-up involving Wesley Clark and his opinion of whether John McCain's military experience is relevant to his abilities as a potential President.

McCain's supporters now claim that his status as a veteran and former POW make him off-limits to criticism, and that to suggest otherwise is not only an insult to the good senator, but to the military in general and all who serve in it, not to mention generations of veterans.

But simple logic tells us this: If military service by itself qualifies and enables you to become president, then there are hundreds of thousands - millions - of qualified candidates out there abroad in the land.

I would settle for one.

Just as every poodle is a dog, but not all dogs are poodles, every candidate should be a war veteran (so they say), but NOT EVERY WAR VETERAN IS A QUALIFIED CANDIDATE (so says the GTL).

Remember your basic logic, people.

I for one am thankful that there are men and women who are willing to serve their country through violence and risk. They deserve our gratitude, respect, and help in later life. They put themselves in harm's way and are willing to die for our nation. Think of that. They have so much trust in our country.

Most of us mistrust politicians, don't believe most of what they say. Not them. These individuals are willing to kill or even die when a politician in Washington, D.C. tells them to. That takes some kind of guts, some kind of courage. The GTL stands in awe of such bravery.

But that doesn't mean they'd all make good presidents.

John McCain wants a free pass from scrutiny based on his war record. I say the war was over a long time ago, we did not win, and the large forces that brought us Vietnam are no longer in play. The world has changed.

More relevant than his life as a war hero is what John McCain the man and the senator has done in the intervening four decades, and what he would do as president.

It is our duty as citizens to figure these things out before election day, and then vote. There is too much at stake not to.