Congratulations to the Bush Administration and John McCain -- we now have socialized capitalism! Excuse me while I yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, but the seats and screen really are burning this time. Yes, after years of supporting massive de-regulation and profiting from unnecessary war, oil speculation, and the buildup of a phony “ownership society” stuffed with junk loans, they and their cronies have finally driven the SUV completely off the cliff. The United States will now have so much stupefying, astronomical debt, that our future Chinese overlords will be thanking them for speeding along the process of Sino-domination far sooner than anyone could have imagined.
Consider that Phil Gramm (you remember him, he of the squinty-eyed, sour-pussed “Americans are suffering from a mental recession,” and are “a nation of whiners”) is John McCain’s longtime friend, and “former” (i.e. “still current”) economic guru, and you begin to understand that of course, one of the notorious Keating Five would say that the fundamentals of the economy are sound, on the very day that the fundamentals have a catastrophic, Chernobyl-style meltdown. The longtime foe of all regulation, Gramm may be the one individual most responsible for this mess, pushing through his infamous de-regulatory poison pill in the banking reform laws of 1999. Oh, and if you like what has become of this economy, good news via McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds, if McCain wins, there’s a good chance Gramm is our next Treasury Secretary!
While it’s true that McCain, Bush, Gramm, their friends, flunkies, and relatives have done wonderfully these last eight years -- as has most of the top 1% of the country, there’s a downside -- the other 99% of us are taking it like suckers. Wages have been flat, more people have slipped into poverty, and gas and food prices have gone through the roof -- that is if you still have a roof. Now McCain says he’s going to instill strict regulation and oversight on the fat cats on Wall Street, and clean up Washington?! Excuse me while I vomit through my laughing. And hey, let’s not forget the other original maverick, the folksy, fightin’ lipsticked pit-bull hockey mom who can see Russia when she stands on her tippy toes, Governor Sarah Palin, who promises to – oh, who gives a sh*t?! McCain’s selection of this ridiculous cipher should already disqualify him from ever being President.
Old Man McFlip-Flop, who once said he could not “in good conscience” support the Bush Tax cuts for the wealthy, has become unhinged, hiring the very Bush people who smeared him in South Carolina in 2000, all in a feverish, last, desperate attempt to fulfill his misguided ambition. He now of course supports those same cuts, and has flip-flopped on issue after issue, but at least it’s become obvious he doesn’t have a good conscience. If the McCain/Palin ticket is somehow able to sneak into the White House – essentially completing the circle Bush started of fooling not quite all the people all of the time (but just enough), then the door will finally be closed to pull us back from the abyss.
It’s no wonder Republicans always run against government, because when they’re in charge, they run our government into the ground. To the good people in Ohio, Florida, and all of the bedrock Red States, I beseech you, for the love of God, please stop voting against your economic self-interest. How many election cycles must we go through where fringe cultural issues that Republicans have used to divide people for decades supersede common sense and rational thought? Two gay people who you don’t know getting married somewhere simply isn’t as big a deal as another local factory closing its doors and the current and future Neocon Wars that will send your sons and daughters off to die.
When Carter left office in 1980, our total national debt stood at 937 billion dollars. When Reagan left, it was almost 3 trillion, a number that was unfathomable back then, but nowadays, hey, a trillion just seems like another number. When the first George Bush left office (oh, how we miss the days of the relatively caretaker-ish Bush I) it was about 5 trillion, then came an eight year respite of steady economic growth with restrained spending as Clinton left office with a balanced budged, a surplus of 200 billion and the overall debt actually trending downward.
Ah, but then here came the Neo-Conservatives, ostensibly for less government and spending, right? Oh, right, never mind. Under George W. Bush and his cronies, we have the largest government in our history, the biggest deficits, two wars with no end in sight, one of which absolutely should have never been fought, hasn’t accomplished much of anything, and will end up costing the nation another 3 trillion dollars that, oh by the way, we’re also borrowing, so just add that to the Chinese take-out tab. I’m sure our great-grandchildren will still be thanking us for that as they forage for food in a post-economic-apocalypse where people remember the good old days when America wasn’t last known around the globe for cowboy diplomacy, torture, and fiscal idiocy.
If you truly think these last eight years have been wonderful, by all means vote McCain/Palin. The corporate lobbyists and former Bush people who run their campaign would love to finish the job. After all, that SUV they drove over the cliff and into the abyss still needs blown up real good! When I wonder how the Republicans still have the gall to even run a candidate this time around, when 80% of Americans realize the country is wildly off track, I look at the close polls, and pray (a miracle for an Agnostic) that collectively, we can’t be that dumb, can we?
This time can be different, but it won’t be easy. Obama has tapped into a new energy, with new voters, unprecedented grassroots efforts, and a rare display of intelligence, inspiration, and thoughtfulness. He can remain calm and collected as always, but for his supporters, and those of us who are beyond fed up with the last eight years, a little bit of anger would be nice. I sometimes equate the Bush Administration to a bad movie with so many plot holes that don’t make sense, that one can’t quite keep track of what’s going on. Karl Rove’s political philosophy seems to be that if you lie repeatedly and screw up so many times, it eventually becomes mundane. But just off the top of my head I can recall almost the entire downward spiral; no federal stem cell research, abstinence-only sex-ed, Enron and Bush’s buddy “Kenny Boy” Lay, the failure to heed the warnings prior to 9/11, not capturing or killing Bin Laden, the entire Iraq War fiasco starring the bumbling Bremer, the torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, Rummy, the pathetic response to Hurricane Katrina and “Heckuva Job Brownie,” the nomination of Harriet Myers (holy crap!), warrantless wiretapping and Alberto Gonazlez, Monica Goodling, and the repulsive Rovian standard of politics before policy. Let’s also not forget Dick Cheney – I mean, how dark does your soul have to be when you shoot a friend in the face and he ends up apologizing to you? All of this can be a bad memory come November, albeit, one with a hefty price tag. They’ll be a hangover for some time, as it’s a deep, deep hole we’re down. “But let us begin,” as John F. Kennedy once said.
I often think it wouldn’t be so bad for America to someday become one of those amazing tourist destinations like Italy, where the ruins of past world domination exist alongside a slower-paced lifestyle of fine food, wine, and hand-crafted sports cars. Unfortunately, I was reminded that when Rome fell, it wasn’t very pretty – with moral rot, civic decay, financial collapse, massive death, destruction, and all the unpleasant messiness that inevitably comes with the end of an empire. Oh, I’m sorry – was I just using scare tactics? Maybe Democrats can learn something from Republicans after all.