This defines our political landscape today. The Republican party is aimless and wandering; they have lost the centrist and the independent voter so all that is left of them is the far right wing. As the party collapses in on itself and becomes more and more fanatical, the political work of a lifetime is slipping away. The eight years of the Bush Presidency have destroyed the economy and damaged the political process itself. The center and independent voters have moved towards the lesser of two evils, the Democrats in name only. Anyone want to hold a rally to support Max Baucus?
The political spectrum has bent so far to the right you have Republican House and Senate members surviving only in their safe districts. Then you have the Blue Dogs who, when compared with Democrats of forty years ago, are in fact moderate Republicans. They live in political limbo. Neither fish nor fowl, they accept their committee chairmanships and mute what ought to be a Democratic majority.
There is a joke that I heard many years ago about a drunk on an airplane. He was having a good time talking and cutting up. Next to him was a large Texan with a ten-gallon hat. Trying to avoid the drunk, the Texan leaned back in his seat and pulled his Stetson down over his eyes. As the plane became airborne the drunk began to feel queasy and suddenly, without warning, yacked into the lap of the big Texan. The Texan slowly pushed the brim of his hat back up with his thumb and looked at the drunk as if he were going to kill him. The drunk looks at him and says, "You feeling better now, fella?"
Since the beginning of the "Birther" movement I have just scratched my head in wonder. My first wife was born in Baden-Baden Germany. She was two years old when she first set foot on American soil, and she did so with an American passport. How? Because her mother was an American citizen. Barack Obama could have been born at an intergalactic trading post on Rigel Three, and by virtue of his mother's citizenship he would be an American citizen.
It is too easy for the left to call racism. It's true but you won't win arguments or defeat your opposition just by calling them bigots. It is a component of their rage but it's not the main component. Millions of Americans pay little to no attention to what is going on in Washington politics. They watch TV sound bites or Internet or cable channels, but that viewing now more than ever is dictated by what they believe in the first place. Twenty percent believe Fox News, no matter what sort of hogwash they spew out.
You cannot underestimate these people; their lack of education or sophistication means very little. It wasn't intellectuals that made Mussolini Il Duce. It was the intellectuals who laughed at those nutty brown shirts in Germany in the 1920's. We are witnessing the demise not of one political party but of two. The Republicans are splintered but so are the Democrats. Obama says one thing, Baucus another, and Pelosi something else.
The Democrats, unable to pass any real legislation, sink into the abyss of followers with their nose to the wind of public opinion but dependent on corporate support for survival. So you have a Republican Party that is splintered and fanaticized and a Democratic Party that is really a moderate Republican Party stuck to the teat of Corporate America and unwilling to let go.
Barack Obama has been called Hitler, Stalin, the devil, a Socialist, a Communist, everything but what he really is. He is a centrist Democrat, politically to the right of Bill Clinton, to the right of Jimmy Carter, to the right of John Kennedy. He is far to the right of Harry Truman and even farther to the right of Franklin Roosevelt. He is the modern day equivalent of Herbert Hoover. Like Hoover he believes that it is more important to bail out the banks than the people. He wants corporate entities left in place as he tinkers in the margins of financial regulations.
He has done nothing to help union workers; he allowed the gutting of the employee's Free Choice Act. The take over of GM, which the right has complained about virulently, was in fact the right wing solution. The Democrats were against bankruptcy and the Republicans were in favor of bankruptcy. What did the President's car czars decide? That the Republicans were right, bankruptcy was the only way to go. This freed General Motors specifically to dump toxic properties onto the taxpayers and allowed GM to abandon properties on which taxes were owed forcing local and state government to seize worthless properties in lieu of large tax bills.
The bankruptcy allows GM to go anywhere on planet Earth they wish to go to build cars, and they are already expanding plants in Mexico and China. The cash for clunkers bill that has received so much praise was in fact nothing more than a public subsidy for corporate America. It worked so well that of three billion dollars invested two billion dollars of it went straight to Asia. It temporarily buoyed the economy while expanding our trade deficit; yet three billion for a bounce is not much bang for the buck! It is Hooverism, if you help the corporations long enough, sooner or later the economy as a whole will pick up.
In 1929 Hoover set up a two billion-dollar fund to offer low interest loans to business. He was against any direct aid to struggling Americans. Obama supported the bailout of Wall Street and the refunding of the banks. In 1932 Roosevelt redirected Hoover's fund toward direct mortgage purchase by the federal government. At one time the federal government owned 12 percent of all mortgages and created the thirty-year mortgage. The Obama solution is exactly the same as the Bush solution, to allow the banks to settle mortgage problems as they see fit. And how's that plan doing? At best, at best, 14 percent of all homeowners in mortgage trouble are being assisted by their lender. That means with an expected three million more foreclosures this year, 2,580,000 will receive no assistance whatsoever.
Bush's plan aided one percent of homeowners and on average Obama's plan aids ten percent. Now, if you are a bank and getting your money for free (.25 percent) and lending it out on credit cards at eighteen percent, would you rather continue to do that or save a mortgage? The Obama plan awards banks $1,000 for every mortgage they renegotiate; yet for $2,500 they can borrow a million dollars in new money and write off the bad debts at the end of the year for a lower tax bill. The banks might want to help the homeowners but there is no money in it!