As a young child I ardently believed in Santa Claus. My older sister scoffed at my nonsense belief but I was undeterred. You see, I took my mother's warning to heart when she said, "When you stop believing in Santa Claus, Christmas won't be as special anymore." My mercenary little mind took that advice to mean that Christmas would become a season of socks and underwear. That like my father, I would receive a tie, a power drill and screwdriver sets.
So my belief became tied to the larger image of Christmas itself, despite the logical arguments of a fat man burned to death trying to get down our chimney, or the absurd notion of how you could park an overloaded sleigh on a step-pitched icy roof. Eventually, reality overcame fantasy and the will to believe. We want to believe it is something innate, something inside of us, a human fear, foible or failure. We attach ourselves to a belief be it divining the future from goat intestines, or Zeus, Jesus, Buddha or Rasputin.
I've been reading "Peeling the Onion" by the noted German/Polish author Gunter Grass. It is a memoir where, after a very successful literary career, it came to public attention that Grass had been a member of the Waffen SS. Grass explains honestly about how as a child and a young teen he believed the things that the Fuhrer was saying. The radio and the movie newsreels all assured him that the Fuhrer was correct. So patriotic was young Gunter that he tried to enlist in the U-boat service at age 15. A fat bureaucratic sergeant told him, "go home, they'll call you soon enough."
The author was appalled that here he was volunteering to serve and he got the brush off. What sort of military were they running that would employ such laconic characters? At 17, Grass was inducted into the military and trained as a Panzer gunner and, in early spring of 1945, was sent to a panzer unit that had only two obsolete panzers. They were sent into the forest to defend the Fatherland against the invading Russians. After the first barrage of Russian rockets, his makeshift Panzer unit was reduced to a handful of stragglers running for their lives.
Hiding under a personnel carrier as the rockets came down all around him, Grass lost control of his bladder and lost all belief in the Fuhrer and the party and the newsreels. This was reality and was about trying to stay alive in the face of impending death, and Grass came to grips with a higher truth. Politics is faith-based, and we are sometimes raised in it or sometimes energized by it but, as Mark Twain once said, "faith is believing in what you know ain't so." Sometimes it was once so and sometimes it never was so to begin with.
Take the tea party. Its members attach themselves superficially to the 1950's faux image of God and Country and a morality that never really existed. They wear funny hats and listen attentively to people who are obviously full of sh*t as they invoke Jesus, Mary and George Washington with a whimpering sniffle. Dick Armey and the rest of the puppet masters pulling the strings tell the faithful, "your taxes are too high!" And the faithful answer, "our taxes are too high!" They are told, "you support the troops because God wants you to," and they dutifully respond, "we support the troops because God wants us to!"
Most of the sane and the sensible among us can look through this fog of bobbles and bullsh*t and clearly see the puppet masters pulling the strings. Why is it then that we can't see them on our side of the fence? Obama's business tax credits are foisted upon us as some sort of stimulus package. I read a comment today where one of the faithful wrote, "I sure hope it works and the party of no doesn't stop him." Yeah, damn those Republicans they're always trying to stand in the way of tax cuts for big business!
The other day I was taken to task by the one of the faithful, "So you don't see any difference between the Republican's and Democrats?" I never said that. The Democrats are a punch in the nose and the Republican's are a kick in the nuts. But he continued with Stalinist zeal -- one Fuhrer, one Reich! "I believe in the Democratic masses and we're not going back!" he cried. I tried not to laugh but I failed miserably, because from its form and tone, it sounded so like he was in the Waffen SS and headed for Poland. I answered, "I'm not trying to make you go back. I'm trying to wake you up."
Things change. When I was a kid there were two branches of the Republican Party -- the Rockefeller Republicans who favored lower taxes and fiscal conservatism and all that rot, and then there were the loony tunes -- the Goldwater Republicans who saw communists under every bed and whispered amongst themselves about blacks and Jews trying to take over the world. When Ronald Reagan was elected, the loonies were unleashed upon the world and, in the following 30 years, the Democratic Party has become the party of Rockefeller Republicans. Those in the actual Republican Party are still the loony toons but now they've created "Loony 2.0" -- the teabaggers.
They want their taxes cut while I want mine raised! I would love to have Warren Buffet's tax bill wouldn't you? I was reading about one of the founders of Kolberg, Kravis, Roberts, and his annual income was $75 million dollars. That means even if he paid half of what he earned in taxes he would still take home $3 million dollars a month. That's a new hundred foot super yacht and a manor house in France every year. Why, he could even afford health insurance!
Franklin Roosevelt came to power on a mission to save Capitalism and with it to save the Capitalists. He correctly understood that too much money at the top of society was corrosive and would cause an economic collapse. When you make $75 million dollars per year there is nothing left to purchase. After you own 10 or 12 homes, 20 or 30 automobiles, a yacht and a jet plane, the money just stacks up in the bank. When you give these types a tax cut, what are they going to do with it?
But the faithful want to believe in Barack Obama, and I've been called an "unabashed troll" because I've pointed out that Barack Obama isn't a Democrat, he's a Republican. Tax cuts for business is the Republican model, and corporatising and privatizing health care is the Republican model. I even read that Obama's stimulus package was larger than FDR's New Deal.
I'll have to file that one under whopper; the WPA employed three-and-a-half million people at its zenith and 11 million people overall. They built thousands of miles of roads and highways; built thousands of parks, airports and public buildings. The TVA built 26 major dam and power plant projects while the CCC employed half a million young men. How is then that FDR could do so much and Obama so little while spending more money? Well, for starters the New Deal didn't offer any tax cuts.
Democrats don't do tax cuts; they increase incomes and when they do this, we pay more taxes. Democrats don't want to cut Social Security they want to expand it. When Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law he invited Harry Truman to be present because Medicare was a part of Truman's plan for single-payer national health insurance from 1948. Democrats support organized labor because it helps union and non-union workers alike to achieve a higher standard of living. A Democratic administration would never say, "F*ck the UAW" and they would never call their base, "F*cking retards." Any administration that would say such things holds you and me in contempt.
It's all part of the Kabuki theater where we're the good guys and those other guys are nuts! We have intelligent answers and those other guys are unprincipled scoundrels. The lie that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and robot planes that can dump poison gas on America is no worse than the lies this administration tells about Iraq and Afghanistan and unemployment. The crooked contractors are still doing a land office business selling second-hand, broken down Russian helicopters to the Afghan air force at prices above brand new.
Robert Gibbs calls this round of tax cuts all there is, and he says don't look for any more "stimulus." Barack Obama will soon have been in office two years and I understand that he didn't create this mess but his Republican solutions have only made things worse. It grows worse by the hour and by the day, and their answer is wait and see, but that really isn't good enough.
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