Wind Beneath His Wings

The incompetent hustler Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is in the news. I have long assumed the much-maligned chairman wouldn’t seek, much less stand a chance of being elected to, another two-year term  in January. For what it’s worth, he’s been playing it cute. “We'll worry about my re-election after I get through this election.” It’s over. More coffee?

Or so it seemed. It now looks as if Steele’s recent bus tour of 48 states served to bolster his standing with conservative grassroots activists, though it didn’t affect the dynamic of the campaign. In addition, Chairman Steele continues to have the support of Sarah Palin, the conservative movement’s North Star. After Palin quit Alaska in July 2009, Michael Steele joined yours truly, Ann Althouse, and the rest of my peeps, in recognizing the potential of Palin’s liberation, even though he dismissed an immediate campaign for president. He engaged in incredible spin to support her in hostile quarters. Months later, there was speculation as to whether Palin would replace Steele, but it was ridiculous. From jump street Sarahcuda has always wanted to seize the White House, not a sop.  

Nowadays Steele is heartily campaigning with Sarah Palin. After she does run for president and takes off, as I expect her to, it is possible Mr. Steele could parlay his goodwill towards the Palins into an unlikely second term. It certainly couldn’t be narrower than his first election.

To be certain, Mr. Steele is wrong concerning just about everything except Afghanistan. Nevertheless he is fascinating. And for the time being it looks as if he won’t get that severance box of chocolates after all.

Republicans: The World is a Ghetto

“We shouldn’t demonize wealth the way this administration has,” he said. “How many of you look at your balance sheets and say, ‘You know what? This profit thing is overrated?’”Michael Steele

As America races head long into banana republic status what is so troubling is how many people have such a distorted view of what has caused it. Thanks to the constant refrain from the wing-nuts and teabaggers many Americans believe the cause of our economic woes is not from the greed of the rich but from the policies that created the middle-class in the first place. The problem is not that our political system is awash in corruption and corporate largess being fueled by wealthy people whose only mission in life is to get as much profit as they can at the expense of all else. The problem is not that the wealthiest among us refuse to pay their fair share to make our system more equitable. It’s amazing to me that if the wealthy spent as much time and money on playing by the rules and paying their share as they do avoiding it we wouldn’t be having this conversation or these deficits.

I wonder when did we changed from a society that provided an opportunity for many to improve their lot through policies that recognized that not only did it make economic sense to have a vibrant middle-class but also because it was the right thing to do into this selfish nation. Today that sense of collective good has been replaced by what’s in it for me. We have become a nation of hoarders. Don’t get me wrong I am not naïve or a revisionist that does not realize throughout our history there have always been greedy people among us, but today it has reached unprecedented levels. We have reached the point where people don’t matter, the environment doesn’t matter, and the future doesn’t matter. Many will say that this is the natural fall-out from a consumption driven and aimless society that despite its outward prostrations is not rooted in any deep and meaningful principles to guide us. While many claim an abiding belief in God just exactly who or what that God is has become a mystery to most.

A country without a memory is a country of madmen. - George Santayana

I understand the logic that deficits matter and there are those who are truly afraid it will ruin us, but there are two things that appears to be lost on this crowd. First, we have history concerning similar events not just in our country but nations around the world. Why is it so difficult for us to analyze those historical events and develop strategies based on what worked and what didn’t in those instances and move forward? The reason I believe that it is so difficult is because what has worked in the past and what will work now is a massive infusion of targeted spending to stimulate growth. You don’t have to be a Harvard educated economist to read a book and realize what is needed. In every case where there was failure the people tried to use austere method of cutting spending during a contraction in the economy. This isn’t debatable or conjecture, it is fact based in history.

The second thing that is lost in this debate is that deficits are caused by two events: spending and lost revenue. You can cut spending all you want but if you don’t maintain or increase revenues you won’t solve the problem. The rich and their middle-managers or the managerial class have for decades sought to reduce their tax burden through government policies and political corruption. A fact that seems lost on the teabaggers, many of whom are adversely affected by the policies they espouse. The troubling aspect about our current debate and election cycle is that easily obtainable facts are now controversial and debatable and many cases just plain ignored. As if to say we don’t know what got us out of the Great Depression. There are those who will argue that our economy today is different from the one back then. The truth is that it is not. We have created these excuses to keep us from acting in a similar way because it worked. Excuses like “structural unemployment”. The reason we have structural unemployment is because we don’t make anything anymore. We have outsourced our ability to produce our way out of this crisis. These policies worked so well that Democrats maintained a majority in Congress for decades following enacting these policies that laid the foundation for the biggest growth spurt in history. But what good are facts in an irrational tirade based on emotions and philosophical drivel.

In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 38.3% of all privately held stock, 60.6% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. The top 10% have 80% to 90% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America. - G. William Domhoff

My question is how many of those teabaggers with their colonial costumes and pointed hats are in this 10%? My guess is not many, if any. Just as the racists of the South turned the debate from slavery and Jim Crow to state’s rights, so the rich in this country have turned equitable distribution of wealth into the false argument of socialism or capitalism. The difficulty comes when so many of the people in this country are getting their information from sources that either confirm or reinforce their already currently held views. We have gone from a nation that read books to a nation that reads bumper stickers. So rather than having an honest and factually based discussion on the real issues we get this ginned up antagonism towards the people who are trying to level the playing field.

It’s strange to hear Rush Limbaugh constantly taking about class warfare and the Obama agenda because warfare would require both sides to be fighting. In America only one side is fighting and winning and that is the rich. If we are going to turn the tide in this country from the rich corporate class that is intent on raping the environment, creating a permanent underclass, and undermining our democratic principles then we will have to wage an insurgency campaign. Unfortunately, we are outgunned and with the collaborators we are out-manned. Those of us who realize where the real problems lie must begin to offset the well financed propaganda campaign which has already caused millions of Americans to vote and to campaign against their own interests. Our future and the future of America are at stake.

“Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.” - Edmund Burke

The Disputed Truth

Requiem for a Clown

Reporting from the streetz—It’s awfully hard out here for an incompetent hustler if Michael Steele’s legion of woes are any reliable indication. The previously promising chairman of the Republican National Committee appeared on the Fox News Channel with Jenna Lee—God, I miss her on “Imus”—once more feeling compelled to let off some salvos at an ever-growing chorus of critics. Why else does he agree to pointless 8-minute cable news interviews that no one will see or remember? He surely knows that once the polite host has given him the opportunity to unload his ridiculous talking points, the conversation will immediately turn to the far more serious stuff: His buffoonery.

In a year when reactionary Republicans, in typical badass fashion, are preparing to storm the Capitol, the single most ironic thing is that the RNC is broke as a joke.

Steele’s is a remarkable fall from grace. I vividly recall being frightened by the talented Mr. Steele and his energetic campaign against the pedestrian then-Rep. Ben Cardin for Paul Sarbanes’ vacated Senate seat. Lt. Gov. Steele was an enthusiastic exemplar of the supposed Year of the Black Republican that was 2006. In an honest appraisal of political gamesmanship, the Steele campaign earned a cool two-finger salute for this.

Ultimately the pale Democrat prevailed because: a) All the hype in the world D.C. media orbit was not sufficient to overcome that year’s Bush-induced Democratic wave; and b) Mike Steele made the very unwise decision to select a reliably blue Maryland as his political home base. It’s the same dynamic that explains the tortured and insincere centrism of bright Democratic politicos in red states. So sad when that happens.

There's more...

Peace Activists Protest DNC Attack on Steele for War Criticism

The following letter was sent yesterday to the Democratic National Committee. As I noted yesterday, a key effect of Woodhouse's attack on Steele is the chilling of Republican dissent on the Afghanistan war - Republican dissent that war critics need in order to end it; and the letter attempts to counteract that effect and to pressure the DNC to not engage in this sort of attack on war critics in the future.

There's more...

Peace Activists Protest DNC Attack on Steele for War Criticism

The following letter was sent yesterday to the Democratic National Committee. As I noted yesterday, a key effect of Woodhouse's attack on Steele is the chilling of Republican dissent on the Afghanistan war - Republican dissent that war critics need in order to end it; and the letter attempts to counteract that effect and to pressure the DNC to not engage in this sort of attack on war critics in the future.

There's more...


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