20 February 2009

Stimulate this!

I never seem to learn. Optimism is my fatal flaw. Back in 2001, when we watched with open mouths as images of passenger jets slamming into the twin towers were endlessly replayed on our computer and television screens, I couldn't help but have the thought creep into the back of my mind, "well, now at least they'll finally be forced to give up on this stupid idea that they can protect people through airport screening." I really believed that the success of those attacks would convince the government to give up on the whole retarded screening idea, and within weeks we'd be back to the way things were when I first started flying, when you just left the check in counter and walked to your gate and boarded your plane without stopping for anything except a newspaper and shoe shine (Also, they didn't have 'flight attendants' in those days, they had 'stewardesses,' who had a mandatory retirement age of 30, you could smoke on board, they gave you a hot meal on a plate with metal cutlery, and no one had ever heard of 'air rage.'). Of course, instead we got Michael Chertoff, Kip Hawley and the TSA.

Similarly, when the metaphorical aircraft of reality and underlying value slammed into the twin towers of the housing bubble and Republican tax cuts, exposing what appeared to be solid economic structures as houses of cards that came dramatically crashing down in clouds of dust and flame, I honestly expected the entire conservative establishment – from Congress to the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute and Fox News – to meekly present themselves to American people and to admit, humbly and publicly, that apparently they had completely misjudged just about everything and would be dedicating the rest of their lives to the advancement of Socialism.

Instead, Rush Limbaugh (yes, he's apparently still on the air) voiced his hopes that Obama's economic stimulus plan would fail so that the Republicans could re-take control of Congress in 2010. William Kristol, in contrast, decided to pretend that the past eight years had never happened, and wrote an opinion piece in his new role as opinion page columnist for the New York Times entitled "Will Obama Save Liberalism?," as if it was the politics of the left, rather than his own, whose future survival is looking dubious. Amongst numerous other ridiculous suggestions was the assertion that "[c]onservatives have been right more often than not — and more often than liberals — about most of the important issues of the day," as if the Great Depression, Viet Nam, the hunt for Saddam's WMDs, the 'war on drugs,' Anastazio Somoza, Jacobo Arbenz, Mohammad Mossadegh, Fulgencia Batista, global warming, Watergate, Contragate, and the current economic meltdown had never happened.

But even Kristol's deranged rantings appear reasonable and reflective in comparison with the fantastic diatribe written by former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen entitled "2688 days", named for the period of time over which "our" country has been spared a terror attack. In Thiessen's view (apparently based on understandings of the nature of terrorism he's developed through years of experience watching the Fox series '24'), there hasn't been an attack "on American soil" since 9/11, thanks to Bush administration's readiness to equate the Constitution with toilet roll. Apparently, Thiessen is unconcerned about the fact that during this 2688-day period, thousands died in terror attacks in Baghdad, Fallujah, Madrid, Bali, London, Tunis, Damman, Beslan, Amman, Istanbul, Beirut, Moscow and numerous other places. In the overwhelming majority of these attacks, Americans and their allies were the targets and the mis-guided policies promulgated by Bush and supported by people like Thiessen were the cause of these attacks.

Similarly, Dick Cheney has been making the rounds of conservative radio shows criticising Obama and his supporters for being more concerned with "reading the rights to an al-Qaeda terrorist" than with protecting Americans (note Cheney's implicit belief that anyone he says is a terrorist must in fact be a terrorist). Thiessen and Cheney claim their violent methods have "prevented attacks". But this is like some third-rate, violent drug dealer, who has enslaved the young men of the neighbourhood through drug addiction into stealing from the rest of the community in order to support their drug habits. One day they catch one of these addicts breaking into their own house (the only nice house in the neighbourhood) and violently beat him to death. Then they brag to their neighbours about their contribution to 'crime prevention.' Yes, Cheney's waterboarding may have "stopped" some attacks, but only ones which would not have happened in the first place were it not for the abusive policies he has promoted.

So given the Republicans complete disconnection from reality, it should not surprise us to see that their reaction to the disastrous consequences of the series of tax cuts they have promoted over the past 30 years – which obviously have no purpose beyond accelerating the transfer of wealth from poor to rich – is to suggest that what is needed are more and deeper tax cuts. That's the nice thing about being a Republican – you never need to think or analyse, no matter what the problem is, the 'solution' is always the same – more tax cuts.

20 February 2009

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