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Myth Busting

By       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   1 comment
Message Gene Altshuler

In an attempt to achieve political dominance and push their agenda, Republicans create, and have become adept at perpetuating political, social and economic myths.

Remember the infamous Swift Boating (an ad hominem attack) in the 2004 election that challenged presidential candidate John Kerry's distinguished military record. Even in the face of John Kerry's former crew mates testifying to the contrary, this far-right myth was initially believed by some and gained traction with others via repetition. The Swift Boat experience taught political operatives the lesson of immediately refuting and vigorously countering myths or half-truths.

More recently several Republican created myths have been debunked but linger in the belief systems of diehard conservatives. These involve the inclusion of death panels in the recent health care bill, or the contention that President Obama was not born in the US and is a closet Muslim.

The GOP myth machine is in full swing today with new myths being promulgated. The first one that pops-up on my radar screen is the mythical refutation of the actual causes of the 2008 financial crisis. This myth is pernicious because it taints the hearts and minds of many in the electorate and helps the GOP win elections.

N.B. If you want to know how these myths get propagated take a look at a few of the following Youtube videos. They are devious in their selective editing and thus are the personification of propaganda -" half truths:

Blaming it on Fannie and Freddie, and of course Barney Frank:

Or this video blaming it on a black Senator- Barack Obama:

Or "How the Democrats caused the financial crisis" Let's blame it on ACORN ( and Barack Obama) who send representatives to bankers homes scaring them and their kids into making bad home loans -" I am not making this up folks:

Recently I made a mistake and I am man enough to admit it. Although my last mistake was in 1984, I apparently did not learn my lesson sufficiently. After many moons of life its own-self and a bit of higher education, I actually tried to reason with an ultra conservative, Limbaugh/Beck worshiping, anger-fueled tea party follower.

He was an acquaintance from my Silicone Valley days and we met because our kids were in the same class. We had lost touch until recently. He is an educated guy, an engineer, angry that the world hasn't treated him better. I picture him nightly shaking his fist at the heavens. Things turned to politics when he started sending me right-wing propaganda articles.

According to him the GOP are always right. George the Second inherited an economy that was already markedly trending downward and thus was not responsible for turning a surplus into a multi-trillion dollar deficit. He completely ignored my assertions that Bush squandered this surplus. "Where did you hear that?" he retorted. He simply choose to ignored the fact that the Bush instituted unfunded tax cuts (which added not one job to the economy), the spending of trillions of dollars on two wars (firing both the head of his Council of Economic Advisors and the Army Chief of Staff when they dared to say publicly that his estimates of the costs were ludicrously low) and the trillion dollar unfunded Medicare prescription plan, were primary causes of the economic downturn.

This became the mode of his responses -" dismiss with a rhetorical wave of his hand all the facts that were distasteful or inimical to his world view and denigrate my sources as left-wing propaganda. In his last email to me he did say, offhandedly, that the Bush administration and Republican congress did not watch the federal spending as carefully as they should have.

Our correspondence started off quite mildly but heated up as I challenged him on a number of his assertions based upon the extant myths. The last go-around was in response to my assertion that the two primary causes of the financial credit crisis were unwarranted speculation by the banks on credit derivatives (especially securitized sub-prime mortgage tranches) and the relaxation of federal watchdog regulations on these entities (such as the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act) initiated by the GOP.

Myth One
Starting in 1994, when the GOP took back Congress for the first time in many decades, the Republican belief in unfettered free markets spilled over from international trade to the realm of business regulation and on into the world of banking and finance. The GOP when reminded of the excesses that led to the Great Depression countered with the oft repeated mantra, "If they have skin in the game the bankers will not do anything to diminish their own assets." The GOP, to deflect the worrywarts on the other side of the aisle who vehemently opposed regulatory slackening, used this phrase both offensively and defensively.

Thus the inexorable push to repeal financial regulatory legislation with many acts going back to the Great Depression. Along with the legislative regulatory repeal of such firewalls as the Glass-Steagall Act, the political philosophy of government getting in the way of economic growth, resulted in the diminution, weakening (via the appointment of conservative regulators), or, at the very minimum, the bullying of the financial regulatory agencies through repeated hearings and an onslaught of letters and other missives from GOP legislators.

The three "des" as Bill Black said. Deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization created the environment that drove the modern U.S. financial crises. These three factors were essential to create the epidemics of accounting control fraud that hyper-inflated the bubble that triggered the Great Recession.

Well, our much-vaunted and now minimally regulated bankers badly skinned their knees at best, and in many cases placed their entire enterprise at risk. When the magnitude of the credit crisis was fully understood, late in 2008, a bailout scheme was formulated. The incoming Obama administration had no choice but to put all other business aside, kiss the hurt, dry the tears, pass the TARP, give these miscreants a stern talking to - and then send them back to their school yard games.

The last straw came when my acquaintance refused to accept the facts, and repeated the Charles Krauthammer initiated myth that it was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that caused the financial credit crisis with their unfettered lending to the credit unworthy. Let me share with you a small part of his diatribe:

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Gene Altshuler Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Retired as a Partner in Charge of Advanced Information Technology from KPMG Peat Marwick. Serves as Finance Chair of the El Dorado County Central Committee in northern California and a delegate to the California Democratic Party.
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