Someone made an interesting and valid point on television recently…a significant event in itself. In one brief segment between pharmaceutical commercials for sexual member enhancement on Sunday morning, someone said–it doesn’t matter who because they are all dipping into the same well of nonsense–that we now have a partisan Democracy. That is to say, we have only one Party participating, the Democratic Party. They have no responsive opposition. The Republican Party, in probably the most dramatic and visible manner ever, have removed themselves from participation in government. They offer no legislation to speak of and they make no reasonable amendments to legislation. The few amendments they do make are designed to be IEDs in the legislation itself, and are removed by Democratic bomb squads before the legislation ever finds its way out of committee.
The problem with the Right is that they have a tragic loss of purpose. They have no philosophy that adheres to the members of the Republican Party. They have been left with a truly pathetic, that is, a sadly sympathetic organization. Their leadership was challenged this Spring by an inane Right Wing radio talk-show host and the Party backed down. They conceded leadership of Lincoln’s Party to a racist, chauvinist, former drug-addicted radio talk show host. A man with no scruples (being addicted to drugs was not his worst characteristic) and no political philosophy…merely burn it all down because he, the talk show host, cares about no one but himself (married something like four times and accused of visiting child prostitution establishments in the Caribbean.)
He is the new voice of the Family Values Party. But let’s not give short shrift to their other leaders, the Governor from South Carolina (public infidelity) or the governor of Alaska (daughter pregnant out of wedlock) or the Senator from Nevada (infidelity with staff assistant and pay off of $96,000 extortion.) As well as the innumerable Party members and lobbyist-friends indicted and imprisoned.
And of course there are the almost impossible-to-believe comments of their wanna-be leaders. For example, that House of Representatives members should be investigated for possible Communist affiliations and the contradictory-on-its-face comment that the President is, on the one hand, a Communist and, on the other hand, simultaneously a Fascist. The daily lies about health care reform, the constant insults, the lack of any intellectualism or even basic knowledge of English. (They refer to a “Democrat” rather than “Democratic” piece of legislation, which is at best fourth-grade English… adjectives and nouns?) They nominated a bumpkin for President, one who barely spoke English, (“don’t misunderestimate me…”) and who blundered us into a disastrous war in Iraq for no good reason but for purely avaricious reasons on the part of Vice President Cheney.
Richard Cheney is one of the major reasons that the Republican Party is at its nadir. He was kicked out of Yale for academic and disciplinary reasons; returned to Wyoming to seek five separate deferments from serving in Viet Nam; worked in Washington; returned to Wyoming; became a Congressman; became a Right Wing functionary; became one of the Nixon fascist-thinking Neocons; rose to some prominence as an aide to President Ford; put his friends in positions of power, having the favor returned by friends in high place, under President Bush the First, when he was appointed Secretary of Defense. Working with the General Staff and advisor General Colin Powell, the first President Bush attacked Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and drove them back into Iraq from Kuwait, and virtually destroyed their military, killing something like 200,000 Iraqis. It took about six weeks.
Dick Cheney’s name never came up during the First Iraq war, even though he was Secretary of Defense. He was watching, as any good crooked politician does, where the money went. Cheney, never having served in the military thought “Look how easy this is. We can just go into a country and defeat them in six weeks.” He kept that thought in his mind all the while he was out of government, planning his return and his work as a lobbyist for Halliburton. He also kept in mind where the money went. And he kept in mind all he learned about where the oil was located.
After Clinton’s successful use of the knowledge and power of our superbly trained General Staff to put down the massacres in Bosnia in 60 days, with no loss of American life at all, Cheney, then at Halliburton, thought, “Wow. If we could elect a Republican, with a Republican Congress, we could go back into Iraq and take over their oil fields. Who is going to stop us? It will take us no time at all. I have no sons, and my children are like me, physical cowards, so I don’t need to worry about losing anyone I care about.” (which is pretty much, just Dick Cheney)
So he and his friends in the oil patch (aka, Texas) decided to put up $60 million and find some obedient and unsuspecting dolt to be President. They found the perfect candidate in a life-long loser named George W. Bush, son of a man who failed as President, but had been, at least, President. They used the Bush name and his father’s dignified if mediocre record as President to run him as candidate for President. He had already proved himself as a man whose likable, “average-Joe Texas” personality had enabled some other oil men to have him elected Governor. Before the governorship, he had failed at everything. Which naturally led his father to have a friend appoint him as President of a baseball team where his only job was being visible in the stands, leading to his being able to amass a fortune of about $20 million dollars. It pays big money to have a daddy who is President. Under his leadership as the Governor of Texas, it became the least effective state in everything from education to infant mortality, leading only in the execution of black men. But the spin meisters took care of that.
The first thing that (Vice) President Cheney did after taking office was to call together all the oil industry executives, including and primarily EXXON and ENRON, one of whose executives he installed as the head of regulation for energy companies, to determine how they would divide up Iraq after he and his ventriloquist-dummy President figured out how to propagandize the country into agreeing to go to war, and using that political power to intimidate Democratic Senators to agree. To their everlasting shame, the majority of Democratic Senators did.
While they were planning this and ignoring pleas by Richard Clarke, the nation’s expert on terrorism, that we were in imminent danger of attack, 19 Saudis and other Muslims attacked the twin towers of the World Trade Center. It was the worst failure of an American President to protect this country in our nation’s history. A government official showed President Bush a report on August 6, 2001, more than a month earlier than 9/11 that said that Al Queada was planning terrorist attacks within the United States. As early as January of 2001, Richard Clarke had sent a memo and had told Condoleeza Rice, Bush’s National Security Advisor, that Al Queada was the single biggest threat to the U.S. and they were planning actions at that very time, statements which subsequent unclassified documents from the CIA and FBI indicate were accurate and true.
Condoleeza Rice, in her testimony before the 9/11 Commission, makes it clear that while Clarke was, in fact, urging that the Bush Administration take immediate action to counter Al Queada, “before Spring” (2001) she blames him for not offering a plan. But in his urgent January memo there was a strategic plan attached, which had in the title, among other things, the words “strategy for defeating Jihadists and Al Queada”, and also attached was the so-called Delenda Plan, which, although 2 years old at that time, is apparently valid even until now, as it has never been declassified.
Dick Cheney had made a promise to Hallburton in return for the help in getting their “boy” elected, that he would return the millions to them many times over. He did. Halliburton, which had less than half a billion dollars in government contracts when Cheney took over as “President” of the company, (lobbyist-in-chief would be a better title), completed $12 billion dollars in non-bid contracts…no competition…by the time Cheney and Bush’s war in Iraq was well underway. And in many of those contracts, including the ones where soldiers were electrocuted because of Halliburton negligence, they were discovered to have even cheated the taxpayers out of more. While Cheney and his pal, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of the Treasury, were creating hundreds of thousands of private military, beholden to them for their contracts, arch-conservative, former military and dedicated mercenary soldiers, Cheney himself had set up a private group within the paramilitary to execute certain actions, held top secret, but assumed to be assassinations. This group was authorized by Cheney to operate in the United States as well as abroad.
Then they went after the middle class and government property. Only they went after just the big stuff, national parks, where already one-third of the timber and mineral and oil resources were being exploited. That wasn’t enough for Cheney. He and his Secretary of Interior set out rules that large new areas of national parks would be set aside for exploitation, New roads would be built to allow corporations to more easily loot the timber, gas, oil and minerals. And they would, while promising to leave the land as they found it, leave vast areas of devastation in formerly pristine areas of the West.
Finally, they inserted their non-stop greed into the economy. By allowing investment groups and hedge funds and banks to create highly-leveraged and unregulated financial instruments which ultimately proved worthless, they created an implosion in the economy that almost resulted in the worst Depression in the history of this country. Fortunately, President Obama was elected in time to begin to turn around an economy that many said had been deliberately sabotaged by Cheney’s friends, the super-rich and the anti-middle class segment of American society.
They cut legal staffs at the Securities and Exchange Commission so severely that there were no attorneys to investigate the myriad of illegal short sales and the major problems that ultimately led to one big crash.
And so here we are, in the 7th month of a new administration, with one out of ten people unemployed and an economy starved for investment capital. And the Republicans have shown their true colors. Obstructed the restocking of the capital markets. Claiming that they will not support the financial community, not support the “evil bankers” as it were. But who are the evil bankers who stole all the money. Who are the Wall Street crooks who sold fake securities and who now have the money that used to be in your pension fund, in your investment fund, in your retirement account? They are the very people that Dick Cheney and George W.Bush encouraged to create these worthless ventures by cutting back on staff at the Securities and Exchange Commission by 27% after 9/11, when the New York office, the one that handles investigations, was destroyed in the World Trade Center attacks.
Why would they cut back on the Securities and Exchange Commission, when the SEC had been decimated and needed more help? Even with the same budget as before 9/11 they would have had great difficulty restoring the system, hiring new people, reorganizing and rebuilding files and offices. But, if you cut back on the SEC when they need more money than before, rather than the same or certainly not less, then you will have less regulation. Now, who wouold that help? That would help those traders who have something to hide, or have new products to sell to unsuspecting customers…and would have no one looking over their shoulders as they do it.
They put one of the most partisan, anti-regulation SEC Chairman ever into the job. Chris Cox didn’t care and still does not care that millions of Americans lost their life savings, lost their retirement incomes, pensions. He only cared that Bush and Cheney’s campaign contributors among the big investment firms and financial institutions, like, Goldman Sachs, Bear, Stearns, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Lehman Brothers and others, some of whom not only deliberately stole trillions from the American people, they literally, in some cases, gambled themselves out of business…on your dollar. The Bush Administration treated Wall Street just as they had treated the national parks and the military–as their own personal land grab or their own personal militia or in this case as a huge bank account and casino for their friends, while average Americans were helpless to stop them.
But Americans finally came to their senses. They understand that taxing a man who makes fifty million or a hundred million a year thirty-five percent of that money over several million still leaves him with sixty five million…not a bad year’s work. And they also understand that leaving that man with sixty-five million or even if we only left him with fifty million out of a hundred or twenty-five million out of fifty million would not be, nor would it ever have been or ever be…Socialism. Taking all his money and distributing it evenly among all citizens would be Socialism. It would be Communism only if the government resisted that last version and the people took up arms against the government to spread the wealth–equally–among all the citizens. That’s socialism.
If taxing individuals more than fifty percent of the very topmost income that they earn would be Socialism, then Dwght D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon would be Socialists, because the marginal tax rates on the highest incomes were more than 70% under those two Presidents.
The fact of the matter is that we have a great land of opportunity. Some people find oil on their land. We don’t ask them to share all that revenue as a part of the commons, but we do ask them to pay a certain amount for the privilege of having a society that protects the industry that results from finding that oil, the roads it travels on to market, the electricity that powers the lights that allow it to work around the clock and the communities that give its employees a decent place to live. We don’t ask them to pay much at all for doing business with huge profits. Less than 9% of government is funded by business. Many multi-billion-dollar corporations pay not one cent in taxes. But we ask the person who makes money in the top 1%, more than 99% of all other income brackets, to pay ten percent more. But they don’t. On the average a man taxed at the top bracket, which is 35% pays only about 22% after tax credits, deferrals and deductions. So you make a million and you keep $780,000. Is that too much to ask?
Yet Dick Cheney and George W. Bush were not satisfied. They felt that their friends at Halliburton and Exxon and all the health insurance industry executives who make an average of $14 million a year are over-taxed. They don’t care that they have created a government with two wars, and a national debt of $11 trillion. They are greedy, selfish men of no particular talent except to loot…thieves and robbers of the American people.
So, here we are. A country in a deep Recession, and a new government looking to develop the economy. And what does the Republican Right Wing…what does the Neoconservative wing of the Republican Party have to offer?
Not much. More tax cuts? Is anyone buying that losing proposition any longer? Freedom from regulation? No rules for businesses or financial institutions? After WorldCom and ENRON and Bear, Stearns and AIG…is anyone buying the idea of LESS regulation on business and finance? Should we leave health care alone? No regulation and, by the way, freedom from anti-trust laws (yes, they have that) for health insurance companies? So that WellPoint or Cigna can charge you or your small business a thousand dollars a month per person and then drop care if you get sick or deny payment on a $5,000 bill because there is a dispute as to whether your doctor actually ordered a procedure that they suddenly do not cover any longer? Higher rates and less coverage? Is that what you want? Well, that’s the Republican plan. Leave things as they are and trust the health insurance industry to voluntarily fix everything. Are you buying that?
Most people are not buying any of that worn-out, tired old crap. The idea was…remember…to cut taxes so that rich people would invest more and there would be more jobs. It was called famously, the “trickle-down” theory. What happened was thirty years of lower wages and fewer jobs for U.S. workers. There was steady employment…for workers in China and India.
At the end of 30 years of Reaganomics…we were left with a country $11 trillion in debt and a deep Recession. We borrowed money from the Treasury, which borrowed it from the Saudis and China to give to wealthy Americans, who now own more of the wealth in the U.S. and have higher incomes as a percentage of total income than at any time since before 1929. And average Americans, before the current Recession, were already setting records for personal bankruptcy. If that was Ronald Reagan’s evil plan, it worked. If he was sold a bill of goods by Conservatives, it worked. The rich are richer and the poor are poorer and the middle class is disappearing faster than a glass of Merlot.
The Neocons don’t even make a pretense any longer. Asked what he thought of the fact that the American people were not happy that they had been lied to about the war in Iraq, Dick Cheney’s answer was: “So..?”
The Neocons in Congress are saying the same thing. “So..?” And they mean this: we own the television and radio networks. We pay billions to propagandists like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and Glenn Beck and Michael Savage to spout our crude messages of hate against anyone who opposes us. And you can’t stop us because we have rigged free speech in such a way as to put the control of the message in the hands of a few super-wealthy media magnates. We give hundreds of billions of dollars over periods of years to buy Republican lawmakers who have no function outside government.
The politicians they buy are inadequate, unaccomplished men who take our money because they have their own agenda, whether it be to force their religious ideas on the average citizen, while shacking up with their secretaries, or whether it be to wage war on everyone else in the world until we are the dominant rulers, or whether it be simply to accumulate as much wealth as possible while making others as poor as possible to create even more wealth for themselves because of the greater difference between the two.
The Neoconservative Republicans, the Neocons, attack the President not with alternative ideas but with foolish, ridiculously, wildly insane terms like “Nazi” and “Dictator” and then contradictorily, “Communist.” Did I miss an idea somewhere in those words? Was there the germ of an alternative idea on how to bring down health care costs? How to stop the Arctic ice and the Greenland ice shelf from melting now four times faster than anticipated? Have we heard ways to prevent our country from falling under the control of Arabs? Because if we don’t and without alternative sources of fuel, we will soon either buy their oil at any price. Either that or simply shut down and have an economy that will make this one look like Disneyland and Mexico look like Monaco.
The Neocons can only insult and object and take their marbles and go home. They take the money from the health insurance companies to screw the American people because they have no good ideas. They have no good ideas because all their ideas are for the corporations, ideas that come to them from lobbyists and corporate think tanks to help corporations and help foreign countries with more jobs. Anyone who votes for a Republican, no matter how charming or how seemingly concerned for your welfare, is a fool.
Because, let’s face it, based on their record, if you are concerned for Americans, you are not a Republican. The evidence is overwhelming.