Archive for December, 2010

Glimpses of the Truth

December 15, 2010

Every now and then the mask slips and the people who ostensibly run America on behalf of the citizenry, whether by mistake or by virtue of being momentarily overcome by blusterous candor, tell you who they really work for and whose interests they really represent.  Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama has become the latest to state the obvious, telling the Birmingham News (quoted here via Salon):

“in Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks”

These comments may indeed represent the single-most honest and useful act of public service in Bachus’s career.  According to The Center for Public Integrity, Bachus’s “largest donors are political action committees for banks, insurers, and auditors, which contributed more than half of the $2.7 million in PAC money he received during the past two election cycles.”   Large donors to Bachus’s Political Action Committees include (again via the Center for Public Integrity):

  • Bank of America Corp., the nation’s largest bank holding company — at least $45,000
  • Wells Fargo, another big financial services company — at least $35,000
  • Aflac Inc., a supplemental insurance company covering more than 50 million people worldwide — at least $32,500

Valiantly answering the call from his true employers/constituents, Bachus is already fighting tirelessly against the Volcker Rule and the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.   So at least he is honest in word and deed in this particular instance.

Another, only slightly less sad, example of this phenomenon occurred in an interview that Think Progress conducted with the leader of the American Action Fund “Think Tank,” an ex-Eric Cantor lackey named Rob Collins.    Think Progress wanted Collins to explain an extremely sorry, pathetic ad that the group ran against Senator Patty Murray, wherein a charicature of Senator Murray is seen literally stepping on the backs of a man and two children.  In the twisted, nonsensical, pathological conservative worldview these images are supposed to represent a protest against Murray’s vote for an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).  The exchange went as follows:

“COLLINS: Um, can you summarize your question? You kind of had a long line there.

TP: The summary is, your ad had Patty Murray stepping on a child, and the back up claim for that ad in the citation was that she voted for SCHIP. Can you explain how stepping on a child, or voting for SCHIP is akin to stepping on a child?

COLLINS: Well you’re clearly trying to make a point and I appreciate that point and we have a different point of view.

TP: As the leader of a policy think tank, could you explain that to me?

COLLINS: Our point of view is government decreases the ability for this company, for this country to have um, economic freedom. This ad was about small business and as you increase the size of government, you decrease opportunity. When you’re — I mean you’ll have to forgive me, you’re talking about an ad. We did 53 individual ads.”

The Freudian slip wherein he intuitively substitutes the word “company” for the word “country” is instructive and speaks volumes about the conservative worldview.  They serve business first and foremost.  A country is but a vessel to contain the vast machinery of business; just a place where the Masters of the Universe can build their gated communities.  It could be America or anywhere else they can buy or, otherwise, game the political system.  The rest of his answers is standard issue “up is really down, day is really night” conservative gibberish.

Two instructive views into which side the conservative movement is really on… in their own words.

“Deficits defund Liberalism”

December 14, 2010

Those words were written by the historian and cultural critic Thomas Frank on page 264 of his stunning book The Wrecking Crew.   The power, concision and truth inherent in them made me gasp audibly when I read them on a train speeding away from the capitol, the Washington Monument slowly receding into the background.  Writing of the Reagan Administration, the Holy Grail of Modern Conservative Thought and Action, Frank notes that:

“once in office they proceed, with a combination of tax cuts and spending increases, to balloon the federal deficit to levels far beyond those reached by their supposedly openhanded liberal rivals.  So mechanically and so predictably do they embark on this course that it has basically become part of their identity, their brand.  Vote Republican and watch the deficit grow”                                                                                                                             The Wrecking Crew (WC) p.261

It is a testament to the many failures of the painfully “centrist” and excruciatingly equivocal Beltway media, and the always corrosive influence of Fox News, that this fundamental fact of Conservative rule is not more widely understood; and even worse, thanks to these same failures, when it is perceived and understood it’s falsely attributed to liberal presidents and liberalism in general. Frank continues by outlining the ruinous folly wrought by steadfast Conservative reliance on the absurd, discredited “supply-side” economic theory, before writing the passage that really took away my breath:

“With their beloved government brought to the brink of fiscal collapse by repeated doses of supply side, the liberals would either have to acquiesce in the reconfiguration of the state or else see the country destroyed”                                                                                                                                         WC  p.262

Frank wrote those words in a book that was published in August of 2008, a month before the economy collapsed in the waning days of the Bush Kleptocracy, yet they describe with startling clarity the predicament that President Obama found himself dealing with from the outset of Presidency in regards to economic policy.    Tell me this doesn’t sound eerily familiar:

“Glimpsing the vast heap of debt rising up in Washington over the course of the eighties, the political class screamed louder and louder for spending cuts, pay freezes for Federal workers, and swift action on ‘entitlements.'”                                                                                                                                  WC pp. 262-3

Again, these words are a frighteningly accurate and prescient glimpse ahead to the headlines of 2010.  Indeed, President Obama just enacted a “pay freeze for Federal workers” and the Obama sanctioned Catfood Commission, though ignominiously defeated and dissolved, dutifully demanded “swift action on entitlements” and “spending cuts.”  Frank uses the Clinton presidency to outline how this purposeful, deliberate use of towering deficits, accumulated by Conservative administrations, as a weapon intended to sabotage and undermine Liberal administrations, forcing them to adopt and implement conservatives ideas and methods (ie. deregulation, privatization) to preserve the existing economic order, worked so brilliantly in the early 90’s.  Note again the frightening similarities:

“The deficit rattled bond market had to be appeased, Clinton’s aides told him; Wall Street had to be convinced that Democrats were trustworthy.  Greenspan himself spoke of “financial catastrophe” unless steps were taken immediately to control Reagan’s deficit.”                                                                                                                         WC p.263

The major financial players (Greenspan et.al) were the same, as was the language (“financial catastrophe”).  Just substitute Obama for Clinton and Bush for Reagan and…Presto!   The Conservative plan to use deficits to destroy Liberal methods of governance, irrespective of electoral outcomes and mandates, is revealed.  It works magnificently! Unless you belong to that 90-95% of the country that is inevitably, irreparably harmed.  What outwardly appeared to be carelessness, incompetence and blatant hypocrisy on the part of the Bush II economic team can and should be viewed in actuality as a fairly shrewd and well executed repeat of the effective maneuvers pioneered and employed so deftly by Conservative ideologues in the Reagan and Bush I. administrations.

Reading this and seeing it play out again in real time as it destroys real families is sickening, and it makes President Obama and his weak, pathetic advisers look that much more sorry when they come out with this out of tune, yet Beltway approved, song and dance about “bipartisanship” and “compromise.”   There is no compromise with adherents to a movement that seeks only to vanquish and destroy.  I guess the President will finally realize that when he is unemployed like everyone else in a few years.