Monday, February 16, 2009

Greed In America: Their Votes Say No But Their Eyes Say Yes

There are 535 congressmen and women in the House and Senate.

Obama's stimulus package garnered a paltry three Republican votes in the Senate, and not a single one in the House.

I suggest our elected officials follow this advice:

If you voted against it, don't accept the money. Just say no. Be like your hero Sarah Palin, telling the government off and refusing the money for that famous Bridge to Nowhere.

Except that Sarah Lee kept the money.

A word of warning from the GTL to the GOP: That money is hot. Touch it and get burned.

You've been warned.

Friday, February 13, 2009

America to Republicans: How Can we Miss You When You Won't Go Away?

Obama shoots - he scores!

The stimulus package is a done deal, and relief will be coming to various sectors of our economy soon.

So why does it feel so unlike a victory, as Paul Krugman points out in today's NY Times??

The recent election was not just a volley in the table-tennis match of Right/left politics in America. It was evidence of a tectonic shift in the consciousness of our nation about what constitutes good governement, and what is indeed "voodoo," "snake oil," or as we like to call it here at GTL HQ, "pure bullshit."

We stand as a nation, hands soiled and blistered, fresh from burying the broken and discredited philosophy which was Ronald Reagan's legacy. "Reaganomics," also known as "supply-side" and "trickle-down" economic theory, lived a rock start's life: live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse.

The ascent was spectacular, as the personal fortunes of the richest Americans will attest. But like all addictions, the greed of our business tycoons and their wealthy political puppets burned out in a blizzard of addict-lies, addict-recriminations, and addict-denial.

Today almost all of us understand that Reaganomics was a failure. Tax cuts for the rich and for big business do not result in wealth "trickling down." The average American stands woefully behind his or her grandparents in wages, job security, pension rights, and savings.

It's serious. Very serious.

Somebody forgot to tell the losing side.

The nation is flatlining.

Rush Limbaugh, the new spiritual and policy-making leader of the Republicans, hopes Obama fails in rescuing our nation. He and his cronies believe that the ticket to retaking power for the Right is to let the patient die on the table.

Just in case you were ever going to respect the Republican Party again, remember this moment.

GOP: Party before Country.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

What's Good About Bad Times. Why Liberalism Is Not An Ideology (and Conservatism Is).

One good thing about the current collapse of our economy and society in general is that it plucks us from the realm of debating theories of government and unceremoniously drops us, hard, onto the pavement of reality.

Under Bush and in the wake of 9/11, the Right famously mocked the "reality-based community" for not seeing radical Islam as the new "Soviet Threat Plus" that required all-out war. The Right saw no distinction between the old USSR, with its thousands of nuclear warheads ready to launch at the U.S. and our allies around the world, and Al Qaeda, a small fringe group of violent wingnuts within the larger culture of Islam, who were so unpopular that they had to hide in Allah-forsaken hellholes like Afghanistan and Yemen just to survive.

When reality-based folks dared to mention that no credible intelligence linked Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein, and that weapons inspections were working just fine, thank you, the sigh of exasperation on the Right could be heard across the land like the wheeze of a dying giant:

Who cares if Saddam Hussein sought to help Bin Laden or destroy him? Who cares if there really are WMD's? Who cares what the difference is between Shiites and Sunnis? Who cares what's real?

Who cares! Who cares! Who Cares! This attitude eventually reached its comical apotheosis in Sarah Palin's "drill, baby, drill!" rallies, where revelers so thoroughly delighted in angering imagined "elites" with belligerent right-wing nonsense that they completely forgot the real, enormous problems looming over us all, problems that actually need real solutions.

This is why they lost not only the election, but millions of reliable future voters. It seems that scaring people who are already truly terrified about losing everything they have is far less effective than scaring comfortable people who are merely angry, ignorant, and bigoted.

The delusional Republican ideology is not confined to the Bible belt. At the top of the economic food chain this same dismissal of reality allowed the world of extreme financial voodoo to thrive. Giving carte blanche to enormous investment banks and high-flying Wall Street tycoons to create their own speculative instruments, make their own rules, and police themselves fit as nicely into right-wing economic ideology as invading Iraq fit into Right-wing paranoia left over from the fall of the USSR.

Reality, international cooperation, economic oversight, measured investigation and response to problems - in short, the careful business of statesmanship - were ridiculed as liberal holdovers from more innocent, pie-in-the-sky days. Weapons inspections and sanctions were out, secret prisons and torture were in.

Lofty rhetoric always falls before the alter of the Gods of Stomach and Skin, of Empty Pockets and Want. Desperate hordes of formerly-middle-class workers don't have much need for think tanks and policy debates.

Today we teeter on the brink of a new great depression, and the country has loudly stated its desperate hope that our new president will be able to break the partisan blockades and rescue the nation as it hurdles toward a very "reality-based" cliff. And it is the GTL's position that he can succeed, with or without Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin and their angry mob of "real Americans."

It occurs to me, as I read the saga of a wounded Republican party, cuckolded by the people's love affair with Barack Obama and held in the sweaty thrall of Limbaugh, that the Left is fighting for the survival of our country and our way of life, recognizing the need to solve actual problems in actual time, with actual human consequences should they - we - fail.

Reality is not ideological.

By contrast, the Right continues to labor in the battle not against economic collapse, starvation, the closing of hospitals for the poor and foreclosures of millions of homes of the recently-not-poor, but against "liberals" and "socialists" on the Left, who were, as we recall, a blip on the radar of American politics when the disastrous policies that brought us to this historic, imperiled moment were concocted.

McCain famously stated during the presidential campaign that Obama would gladly "lose a war to win an election." How shameful that no one called him out on this and beat him about the knickers with a rattan cane like the prep-school bully gone to seed that he is. Especially since, as we now see, the Republicans seem to be clearly articulating their new rallying idea:

"If Barack Obama and the Democrats succeed in preventing disaster, we'll never stand a chance of winning an election against them later. They must fail."

The Republicans' playbook is open for all to see:

We are willing to lose our country to win this war. No, not the war in Afghanistan. Not the one in Iraq. It's the liberal majority here, at home, who is the real enemy.

Party before Country.

The real war, in which we must sacrifice everything our nation has and holds dear, is against ourselves.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

What Don't You F****ng Understand, Batman?

Many thanks to Andrew Sullivan for posting this video. I laughed hard.
I'm finding it hard to like this Christian Bale. I didn't think his performance in the Dark Knight was remarkable at all. But I have to give credit where it's due; here, under RevoLucian's direction - he shines.

It's all funny but it really kicks into high gear at about fifty seconds or so.
Listen to it carefully and answer me: wouldn't this make a good new national anthem?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Let The Payback "Trickle Down." The Lie Of Our Times. There Will Be Blood. He Hopes We Fail.

If you want to understand where the anger comes from that fuels the GTL to blog away his beautiful Sunday morning, read this article in today's Boston Globe about the closing of a mental health clinic for the poorest, riskiest, sickest members of the community.

It will help you understand the murder of the American economy by ultra-rich sociopaths on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C. in its proper terms. For every sleek, oily, alpha-male piece of shit who scammed his way into a corner office in Manhattan and a McMansion in Westchester based on credit default swaps and esoteric derivatives, there's an army of human wreckage who pay the bill in blood when it finally comes due.

Maureen Dowd has the right idea about making these sick, twisted greed addicts return the spoils of the class war they have been winning since Ronald Reagan came along and told them we as a nation didn't have to take care of each other after all. Remember when he said, "there was a war on poverty, and poverty won"? It was somewhere between his other great sayings, "we begin bombing in five minutes," and "Contras? What are Contras?"

Reagan was by turns pithy, clever, racist, anti-worker, and catastrophically horrendous as president - unless you were rich and powerful at the beginning. If you were, you came out of Reaganomics with your fortunes not only intact but metastasized into monstrous private tax-sheltered permanent estates, tumors of the greed cancer upon our collective body that we now have little hope of surviving.

The filthy rich, the corporate insiders, whom W. would famously describe as his "base," came to believe that they could go on developing ever-cleverer schemes for redistributing wealth to the top of our economic ladder without any consequences at all. The benefits for the rest of us would "trickle down."

Trickle down. The lie of our times. The curse of our culture and a diseased philosophy even before it was ever put into practice. "The slaves are starving, so make the masters' portions bigger. Think of the abundance in table scraps!"

Soon people are going to be calling for the blood of the rich. The homeless and mentally ill, the penniless veterans and formerly middle-class poor are going to realize, as Malcom X did forty years ago, that waiting for your enemy to extend his hand in true support and friendship is no substitute for a genuine plan of action.

Make no mistake. People are going to die because of Phil Gramm, deregulation of financial institutions and banks. People will die without medicine or a place to live. People will die of shame at being unable to care for their children.

Maureen Dowd's plan, to force the evildoers of our blasted economy to give the booty back, will never work and would not help the economy one whit, except symbolically. However, when hedge-fund managers begin to fear for their children's lives, start worrying that their maids or drivers might slit their throats in their sleep, a new threshold will have been crossed.

It is right around the corner. I can feel it. Can you?

The GTL doesn't advocate violence. I would prefer by orders of magnitude a bloodless fix to our financial holocaust. But if the architects of the disaster have to 'fess up and seek forgiveness as a precursor to change, don't hold your breath. It won't happen. Even as we speak, Republicans are rallying not to their constituents' aid, but to the swarthy flanks of their philosophical and spiritual leader, Rush Limbaugh, who has come to feel so safe and secure in his own position that he can say out loud what his fellow billionaires are more wisely keeping to themselves:

"I hope he fails."

If Obama can stop the economic slide into oblivion, rescue the American people from the depths of poverty and despair, most of us would think of it as a good thing. Not so Mr. Limbaugh, and as it appears now, wheresover goeth Rush Limbaugh, there goeth the Republican Party. Listen here and make up your mind.

You have yourselves a beautiful shiny day, my friends. But remain vigilant, and as always, keep your powder dry. In the fight for good, for the people of our great land, and in the fight for economic and social justice, it's always high noon, always do-or-die.