The Straw Man

Television has never gotten over itself.  Specifically it has never gotten over the 1960 Presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.  At the time, the great idea was that Nixon lost the debate by wearing a gray suit on black-and-white television.  He did not do it be being a blank, blubbering bundle of nerves.  And of course, he wasn’t a crook until 14 years later.

But anyway, back to the point, television has never gotten over itself.

Our current crop of media geniuses work for the very corporations that support Mitt Romney, so after last night’s disastrous performance by their hero, they are still searching for reasons why he won…or why, if Obama actually did win, it was, in the words of one media pundit, “too little too late.”

A hyper-conservative online friend of mine echoed this last night, saying something to the effect that “this was Obama’s last stand,” and “the majority (in some poll) feel that Romney is the one who will correct the economy.”

I thought, “Really?  How, dear?  By repeating and intensifying the mistakes of the last 30 years?  Doesn’t repeating a mistake just make it worse?   And what about all those charts and figures that show how the economy tends to worsen under a Republican president and get better under a Democratic one?  Explain.”

Of course there was no explanation.  Sadder still, this guy’s an economist (an article comes to mind about economists being made ‘stupid’ by their their training; I’ll have to look for it).

But anyway, the point here is this: Obama won — and he won simply by telling the truth and not allowing Romney to stick to his scripted unreality — and the media are having a fit.  This is not in the script, and they don’t know how to deal with it.  I mean, Romney didn’t even wear a gray suit!

Obama did play into their hands by being a snoring sap in debate #1, and at least one media wag now says that’s when he lost the election.  This debate means nothing.  Nothing, I tell you.  (And I daresay if Obama hadn’t slept through the first debate, that debate would have meant nothing, either!)

And to this wag I say, “I had no idea it was already November, darling.  And I don’t have a crystal ball, either.  But I do know better than to do two things: (1) predict this election based on anything at all I hear in the media, which has gone from chortling about gray suits on black-and-white TV to creating an entire universe devoid of reality, and (2) repeat the mistakes of the last 30 years.”

To my eyes, Romney is nothing but another George W. Bush.  George W. Bush was the perfected incarnation of Ronald Reagan: a stupid, arrogant, bullying figurehead for shadowy corporate overlords.  Straw men, if you will.

These are the kind of straw men and media wags who will put up a headline stating that “the jobs are going away and they aren’t coming back,” and not offer a solution.  Then they will blame the victims.

These are the kind of straw men and media wags who will prattle on about “small government,” and then regulate the hell out of women’s bodies.

These are the kind of straw men and media wags who will convince us to get into yet another war…because someone, long ago, noticed that we only got out of the 1930’s depression by going to war.  No matter that it hasn’t worked since.  We gotta get our hands on all that oil!

We can’t go there again.  Obama is our only choice.  If we elect Romney, we die.

Stupid of the Day awards all the way around to everyone who supports Romney.  It’s on me.

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The Truth about Ronald Reagan

I’ve said this before in this blog and I’ll say it again: Ronald Reagan was not a great president.  He was not even a good one.  Even with all that, though, he had one redeeming quality: he was no teabagger.  Or maybe two: as vague as Reagan was, he was a mental giant compared to George W. Bush.

In spite of those facts, I, for one, have been sick and tired for years about the attempts to rewrite history on behalf of this idiot.  Even during his Presidency, many people suspected that he was (1) dumb, and (2) a mouthpiece; i.e., someone else was actually running the Oval Office.  Some people way back then very vocally suspected that Reagan was suffering from senility; he was that vague and detached.  The only thing slightly solid that we had to latch onto was his anorexic, arrogant wife who wore oh-so-chic “Nancy Reagan red” and refused to bow to the Queen of England  (probably less on an insult, however, than GW landing his helicopter on the Queen’s rose garden).  Some people suspected that Nancy was (gasp!) RUNNING THINGS BEHIND THE SCENES, but this only became a sin later, when the same rumor circulated about Hillary Clinton.

The attempts by the slow-witted Reagan’s handlers to make him look “vigorous” were often noted even by the media, who were not such placid corporate lapdogs as they are now (although those years were the start of their comfy slumber).

If Reagan was responsible for anything, it was for quickly turning this country from a forward-looking nation (even if angry and smarting from economic woes) into a nation of back-biting, backward-looking bullies and haters.  The ’80’s were a particularly horrible time for all but people like, say, Paris Hilton’s parents.  Those years were all about ostentation and contempt for anyone who could not buy the shiniest new toys on a whim.  Some people even had private submarines, for crying out loud.  The people who could afford shit like that were “players;” the rest of us were dog meat.  “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it,” was a popular sniff of the day.  And then they started importing cheaper dog meat to replace the poor here at home.

One thing that has been conveniently forgotten is that in his day, some of Reagan’s most ardent worshippers wanted him to be named king.  Not President — KING.  Failing that, they wanted the “two terms and out” rule to be put to an end, so Reagan could be king forever.

Ahem…I meant “always be President.”  Such respect for that Constitution his supporters had…and have.

Thom Hartmann sums it up here.  I can sum it up as someone who was there at the time.  If anyone tries to tell you that this guy was even a decent President, Hoss, they are lying to you.

P.S.  The one place I disagree with Hartmann is in his assessment of the illegal-immigrant amnesty Reagan enacted.  Of the 3 million eligible, only about a third took advantage of the amnesty.  What illegal aliens want has nothing to do with citizenship; all they want is jobs.  The idea of portable workers is a dream of the U.S. wealthy — they make money off of cheap labor; that accounts for the immigrant (legal and illegal) tsunami since the 1980’s.  Amnesty is a red herring.  Let’s forget about it and move on.

From I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing

Read “Wink One for the Gipper“…that is, if you can tear yourself away from the rest of the hilarious commentary long enough.

 

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Obama and the Fat Man: Clinging to Disaster

I am disappointed in President Obama for dignifying Rush Limbaugh with any notice at all.  Look where it’s got us: the right-wingnuts are probably going to nominate the Fat Man for sainthood any day now.  (To those who cheer the Fat Man, I have only one question: what has he done for you lately?  Or ever?  Think harder than you ever have in your life, because you will have to in order to come up with a plausible answer.)

The official notice freed the Fat Man from having to even try to make any kind of sense, not that he ever tried very hard to begin with.  Come to think of it, he never tried at all.  But now his factual fractures have deified him in the minds of those who hysterically hate that guy in the White House, to whom they refer with what is known as the “N word.”  No doubt the notice has also injected the Fat Man’s countless imitators with delusions of grandeur, meaning only that there is more of his brand of bloated blather to come, and when it does, it will be louder than ever before.

Now don’t go off on me, saying how mean us left wingers are.  I’ve already made it clear that I’m not left-wing.  I’m an immoderate moderate; my new goal is for there to be something in this blog to piss every extremist off.  If you are left-wing or right-wing, I want to make it clear that people like me are your worst nightmare because you have no convenient tag for us. 

My point here is that extremism does not work, and it’s what got us where we are today.  So unfluff your feathers and read on:

In both cases — Obama and the Fat Man — we are seeing the cause and cost of clinging to failed policies.  Those policies have already led us to disaster.  What more do you want?

That is to say that I’m disappointed in Obama for regurgitating some of Bush’s failed policies.  “Stimulus” is one.  I got about $1,000.00 worth of “stimulus” checks during the Bush administration.  All of the money went to pay bills.  That’s probably what will happen with any “stimulus” money I get from the Obama “stimulus” package.

Fact is, everyday living has become too expensive, and the paychecks of the majority of us have not kept pace.  In fact, many of our paychecks have been exported, in smaller pieces, to other parts of the world.  That does not work.

Clinging to the past does not work.  Neither does recreating the past.  Nor does blaming Obama for Bush’s failed policies (as of now he is only guilty of repeating some of them), which some right-wingnuts have been doing since before Obama took office.  On the other hand, people like Nancy Pelosi have taken all this as carte blanche to become more giddily liberal than ever.  This is another fragment of the past that has never worked, and for the same reasons: it is unrealistic and unproductive.

Trying to frighten people into clinging to the past only works in the short run.  We are now at the point where for many, after 8 years of George W. Bush, fear is no longer working.  They’ve learned to shrug at manufactured fear just as they quickly learned to shrug at the color-coded “terror alerts.”  Trying to deflect attention from this fact by claiming that Obama is the one trying to scare people is only singing to the choir.  I believe it’s called “projection.”  Whatever it is, it’s a waste of time and it does not work, at least not indefinitely.

Hopefully that point will reach everyone before long.  But I worry that before some Fat Man fanatics realize it, they’ll have to suffer a tragedy that they cannot blame on the guy they call “N”, not that they won’t continue to try.

Among the causes of possible tragedies big enough to penetrate thick skulls are many, many things that did not begin in November of 2008, or even in January of 2009.  For example:

COBRA never worked.  Putting a reduced-rate COBRA in place won’t work, either.  COBRA needs to be scrapped.  The only thing that ever made sense about COBRA was its name, because indeed, it bites.

Employer-based health insurance does not work in a “global” economy — especially not one that is failing. 

Our healthcare system does not work in a “global” economy.  It makes U.S.-based workers uncompetitive.

Mass immigration, legal or not, does not work in a “global” economy.  Part of this is because of the cost of taking care of those who take “the jobs Americans don’t want,” (remember who said that?  It wasn’t Obama), and part of that is the cost of healthcare, especially for those who are not paid well.

Mass layoffs do not work.

Housing as a quick-windfall investment tool does not work.

“Trickle down” does not work.  We’ve been trying it since around 1980, which is plenty long enough to prove that it does not work.  Time to move on.

“Trickle up” does not work, either.  That’s part of what got us where we are.

The war in Iraq does not work.  If anyone was looking for economic salvation in a “wartime economy,” that ecomony was apparently dead a long time ago.

Looking for the jobs of the past to return, does not work. 

Saying “yes we can” doesn’t work if we can’t do anything.

Saying “no we can’t” is what got us into this mess to start with.

Declaring any truly new idea to be dead before it is even tried does not work.

Worshipping every word a puffy overpaid pundit pisses does not work, either.

Which brings me back to the Fat Man and his ilk: Right-wing radio does not work, and dignifying it with official notice doesn’t work, either.  It only feeds egos that clearly need no feeding — look at the Fat Man’s “this was my first national address” blather if you need evidence.  The Fat Man is living his own Hollywood script, and apparently believing it as well.  The scary part is, so are several million of his faithful.

The fact is that right-wing radio offers us no help and no ideas.  It is merely about bullying, fearmongering, and name-calling.  It has been effective on a large minority of heads that are empty enough to be filled with this kind of drivel, but brainwashing never works very well on more than about a tenth of any population.  (On the other hand, giving the Fat Man real responsibility for what he says might expose him as a windbag to a few of the less-brainwashed, which is probably what Obama was hoping for.  Unfortunately, the right-wingnuts are so lost in fear of the “N” right now that whatever few empty heads chopped off apparently were canceled out when the Fat Man movement sprouted a few more out of its ass.)

The Fat Man’s followers may be relatively few, but they are loud, and they have control of the Republican party, and they are committed to stopping anything from being done about anything by using the Republican party for that purpose, for no other reason than to “prove” that Obama is no good.  Nice work if you can get it.  And if Obama gets past their wall of stupidity and actually gets something done, they will claim his victories for their own.  No matter how they will do it — they just will.  When reality has lost its grip, nothing anyone knows as a fact matters anymore.

That brings us back to the point: extremism does not work.  Marx’s famous statement that religion was an opiate for the masses can be translated into a modern version: extremism is now the opiate for the masses.  Extremism is the new religion.  And it does not work.

Let’s get serious.  The fact is, it happened: we woke up one day recently and the world was different.  This snuck up on us while the Bush administration and people like the Fat Man were desperately trying to get us to look the other way, and apparently were doing a very good job of it for a long time.  It also snuck up on us while people on the other end of the spectrum clung to 1960’s hippie-wish thinking, humming, “I’d like to teach the world to sing” while visualizing a perfect world where everyone would stand around holding hands, smiling and being multicultural.

All of that is old now.  All we have left is new, and we have to figure out how to deal with it.  Pointing fingers is just pointing fingers.  Reassigning blame is a mere diversionary tactic.  Clinging to disaster is not an option.

The Blameless Mr. Bush

If you can follow the logic, the Republicans have occupied the White House for very roughly two-thirds of the last 40 years, yet the Democrats are to blame for the crisis the county — and the world it resides in — is experiencing.

I can’t follow the logic. It’s a little like blaming the hapless ACORN for the mortgage bust…oh, wait, the Republicans already did that. Never mind. The Catholic Church, which has been playing the role of an ultra-conservative poltergeist in U.S. social policy while hiding behind its tax exemption, has withdrawn its million-dollar support of ACORN — not because of the mortgage thingie (which never had anything to do with ACORN to begin with), but for that silly episode of Mickey Mouse registering to vote a few thousand times. At this point, I almost feel sorry for ACORN. For me, that’s saying a lot. Imagine being stuck between the Republicans and the Catholic Church. Talk about a rock and a hard place…

Anyway, speaking of rocks, the latest Republican brainstorm is that George Bush had nothing to do with anything. Bill Clinton did it. Never mind that Clinton has been out of office for 8 years; George is a nice man who has merely been extremely unlucky to follow the evil Clinton into office and have to deal with all the hell that allegedly broke loose as a result of an 8 year Clinton administration.

With the exception of the “unlucky” part, (which is recent), in the early days of the Bush administration, right up through September 11, 2001, we heard this “Clinton’s fault” stuff a lot. It didn’t make sense to me even back then. Yes, Clinton was in office 8 years, but he spent at least half that time dealing with a Republican Congress that kept impeaching him, or at least trying to. They didn’t seem to be able to get much else done.

Here’s another point to consider: Clinton was a fiscal conservative. As he was a fiscal conservative without also being a social conservative, he actually managed to get stuff done — pretty much on his own, since Congress spent most of its time studying its neocon navel during the Clinton administration. Under his watch, the U.S. budget was balanced. I guess Republican logic says that he’s been lurking around in the 8 years since creating the biggest deficit in U.S. history. But they fail to explain how he has managed that, or why he would even try.

And again, there’s that nagging fact that the Republicans have occupied the White House pretty much of the time since 1968. But still, it’s Bill Clinton’s fault. I’m even hearing that some of it is Jimmy Carter’s fault. (Remember him? No? Why am I not surprised?)

Awfully powerful, these Democrats. At least, they must be awfully effective: they accomplished more mischief in 12 years than the Republicans allegedly managed to clean up in the remaining 28.

To be fair, there are some signs of sanity now that I hadn’t seen in the last several years. One of them is the sudden, if infrequent criticism of the formerly unassailable Ronald Reagan. To my mind, this is the idiot who started the cascade of idiocy that enabled the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004 that resulted in an 8-year Bush administration.

This criticism, (still faint and infrequent as a mysterious radio signal from outer space), as well as the suddenly accurate recollections of Reagan’s less saintly moments in office, is reassuring — kind of like a dementia victim responding to a drug that enhances long-term recall. We do need to remember, not through Republican cloudy lenses, but with some sort of sharpness and accuracy. To be sure, Reagan did not cause the crises of the past 8 years any more than did Clinton. But what his administration did do was give ol’ George a chance. There was a time when nobody that stupid could get elected, even as uneasily as Dubya did. But the Reagan Machine, which morphed into the Contract On America in the 1990’s, opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box.

Quickly, as if the cosmos itself had had quite enough of this nonsense, weird, eerie stuff started to happen: 9/11/01 was just the start. That was easily blamed on Clinton, who had left office less than a year earlier. It was especially easy to blame Clinton if you ignored the fact that Bush had brushed off a warning about the impending attacks a month before they occurred.

Then we invaded Afghanistan. Then Iraq. Then Katrina happened — certainly that was not Bush’s fault, but the “heck of a job” in responding to it was.

Illegal immigration mushroomed out of control, and Bush’s response to an angry populace was only to call them “racist.” He sent Mexicans in to fix New Orleans, at least until word got out that U.S. contractors who had gone there had been sent home after being forced to train Mexican companies to do their jobs. After that scheme failed, apparently nothing further was done to resurrect New Orleans.

Mexican Presidents, in the meantime, were allowed to parade around the U.S., talking of “reconquista.” More recently, their troops have repeatedly entered the U.S. And yet, nothing has been done. We’ve barely even heard about it. (No, this is not a racist neocon fantasy, folks, this is real.)

Nothing was done about the deteriorating healthcare system. Nothing. Not enough money, Bush claimed. This leads one to wonder where all the money for the financial-giant bailouts is coming from, as it would have more than paid for an overhaul of the healthcare system. And that’s not all…

Jobs continued to be shipped overseas, even as millions of new bodies arrived on our shores and poured over our borders with little or nothing being done to stop them until very recently. Overall, it’s estimated we lost at least half a million jobs in the early 2000s, even as we added several million immigrants to our residents list. There’s an obvious problem with the math there, as well as another obvious problem: even when we ended up with 300,000,000 people in the U.S., U.S. corporations claimed they still couldn’t find enough good help and needed to import some more bodies — hundreds of thousands of them annually, in fact. And they usually got their way because nothing was being done to stop them.

Nothing was done about the ailing planet except to deny that it was ailing.

Nothing was done about the housing crisis except to deny that there was a housing crisis, which only became apparent after the mortgage market crashed to an extent that almost no one but a truly rabid neocon could succeed in blaming it on the tiny, hapless, stupid, blubbering, bleeding-heart ACORN, the unwitting left-wing patsy of immigration-crazy, cheap-labor, ultra-conservative big business and the Catholic Church. Never mind that a lot of us had been wondering for years how people who were earning less than $100,000 a year — and the vast majority of us were — could afford the $700,000+ McMansions that were springing up all over the place, as perfectly viable older homes were needlessly knocked down or became hideously overpriced themselves.

And now, just about everything in the financial markets has collapsed. Money is being given away in buckets and barrels to the very people who engineered the collapse through their own greed. You and I are left to pay the bill while AIG continues to throw staff parties and pay their executives millions. GM and Ford now have their hands out, even though it’s their own fault that they were caught with lots full of gas-guzzling SUVs at the same time that gas prices soared over $4.00 a gallon and Exxon rolled in the dough while trying to excuse it by claiming that they were not really rolling in dough because the dough was…I don’t know. Barely covering executive salaries, perhaps?

And nothing was done — at least, nothing was done as quickly as the financial-market bailout. What was done for the average person came slowly and was not much help. In fact, I was just thinking that I really do not want, but really need a new car and really, because of my Bush-era salary (which at this point I’m lucky to have at all), can’t afford one. Where’s my handout?

It’s all Bill Clinton’s fault. Remember that.

George Bush must have been vacationing at his ranch the past 8 years.

(for further comment, read http://www.truthout.org/110608A and http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=goodbye_and_good_riddance)