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Hell, Grover can't kill ya. He can't burn down your house.
November 10, 2011 6:20 PM   Subscribe

In November 2002, at a meeting in the White House, the president and his top economic advisers packed tightly around a mahogany table in the Roosevelt Room. With the administration's own forecasts showing that the economy had already regained its footing, one after another of Bush's deputies sounded the alarm about the dangers of a new tax cut. "This burns a big hole in the budget," deputy chief of staff Josh Bolten told the president. "The budget hole is getting deeper," added Daniels, "and we are projecting deficits all the way to the end of your second term." O'Neill warned the president that a "tax cut that benefits mostly wealthy investors" could imperil the budding prosperity. "With the economy already improving, this could cause an unnecessary boost," he said. "That's how you get a bubble." Entertaining the chorus of doubters, Bush himself voiced qualms about more cuts for the rich. "Won't the top-rate people benefit the most?" he asked. "Didn't we already give them a break at the top?" But Cheney was having none of it. When O'Neill warned Bush that America was headed for a "fiscal crisis," the vice president, sitting at the Treasury secretary's right elbow, dismissed him midsentence by citing the ultimate champion of Republican tax cuts: "Ronald Reagan proved that deficits don't matter, Paul." Rolling Stone's Tom Dickinson on how the GOP became the party of the rich.
posted by therewolf (69 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Welcome to Dick Cheney's America."
posted by milarepa at 6:26 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Pardon my ignorance of the American system, but what would it take to get the Republican party off the ballot altogether? I'll bet the Nazi party represents more people in the US than the GOP at this point. In Canada, if a party does not win enough seats, they have no representation in parliament. Is there an American equivalent? (I'm guessing 'money talks'...?)
posted by weezy at 6:34 PM on November 10, 2011


Yes. If no Republicans win any seats they also do not have any representation in Congress. But that is not the case, as they win lots of seats.
posted by ifandonlyif at 6:36 PM on November 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


The GOP has the majority of seats in the house right now.
posted by empath at 6:40 PM on November 10, 2011


Godwined in two!

Does the GOP really even represent the wealthy anymore? Because even the most cartoonish conceptualizations of corporate fatcats need a sustainable pillaging plan, and what's going on now isn't sustainable. If there really was a thoughtful strategy behind enriching the wealthy, I'd think they'd be taking the long view.

Or, like with all large organizations, is the purpose of the GOP to win elections, by any means necessary, and sustain itself?
posted by modernserf at 6:45 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or, like with all large organizations, is the purpose of the GOP to win elections, by any means necessary, and sustain itself?

Bingo.
posted by The World Famous at 6:48 PM on November 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Everyone was on to the GOP representing the wealthy years, no decades, ago. Which is why the wealthy have switched to the Dems for the hard moves, leaving the softballs for the nutjobs on the far right. The really great part of the plan is there's no viable part to the left of the Dems, so the country is pretty much sewn up now.
posted by DU at 6:48 PM on November 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Both major parties currently represent the wealthy and both major parties are mostly composed of the wealthy. The major differences between the parties are just social and/or "moral" issues.
posted by 2bucksplus at 6:50 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Surely, this will be the downfall of the Bush Administration!
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:53 PM on November 10, 2011 [18 favorites]


Ronald Reagan is the presonality-cult-brainwashing of an entire American generation. Anyone who leaves it behind and renounces it is probably slightly above average and should be congratulated. (Although it's nowhere near leaving an aggressive salvation or sex cult, in case anyone got too proud of themselves.)
posted by Brian B. at 6:55 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The major differences between the parties are a difference of opinion about which of them is to blame for the decline of the country they run.
posted by flabdablet at 6:55 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Winnebago man was right about Dick Cheney.
posted by blairsyprofane at 7:01 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I said as much on facebook when I saw this posted:

The idea that the Republican party became the party of the rich around 1985 is off by at least a full century. I mean, has the man never heard of Mark Hanna and William McKinley? I mean, fuck, the Republicans were tied to financial and industrial interests when they were still calling themselves Whigs.
posted by absalom at 7:03 PM on November 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


became?
posted by wilful at 7:04 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does the GOP really even represent the wealthy anymore? Because even the most cartoonish conceptualizations of corporate fatcats need a sustainable pillaging plan, and what's going on now isn't sustainable. If there really was a thoughtful strategy behind enriching the wealthy, I'd think they'd be taking the long view.

The wealthy have rigged it so that they don't even need organizations to sustain in order to thrive.

Look at all these asshole bankers who made short-term profit, and tanked the organizations that gave them absurdly enormous severance packages.
posted by entropone at 7:06 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've long wondered what the true power is of that stupid pledge that Norquist gets people to sign. It's reported all the time that all these people have signed it, and they all seem scared to death to break their pledge. Of course, they're not afraid to break any number of much more widely publicized promises they've made during the course of their campaigning or whatever....

It just seems ridiculous that our nation is being held hostage by this unelected figure whose stated objective is to rid the US of government altogether.

My favorite bumpersticker right now is this one, which holds more truth than just about anything I've seen recently.
posted by hippybear at 7:22 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Godwined in two!

Really not.
posted by pompomtom at 7:28 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huh. My favorite bumper sticker is still NUKE AN UNBORN GAY BABY WHALE FOR JESUS.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:41 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I know that it's supposed to be an elephant trunk (and hence a reference to the Republican Party), but I'm always taken aback when illustrators use a guy with a long bent nose to illustrate wealthy exploiters who suck the blood of the people.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:01 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, man, but exactly the same thing would have happened if we'd elected Al Gore. Exactly the same thing. Because the parties are exactly the same.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:10 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


The thing that pisses me off more than anything else every time I read the words "Dick Cheney" is the fact that his daughter, Liz, will be around perpetuating the legacy long after that train wreck of a former VP is six feet under.
posted by imjustsaying at 8:11 PM on November 10, 2011


Look. It's clearly bad taste to dance on someone's grave. So when Dick Cheney passes away - and there is the inevitable MeFi thread announcing the fact - there's going to be all this angst and chiding about not celebrating the man's death, etc.

That's why I'm going to go on the record as dancing, right now, on the verdant, sunny ground where his grave one day will be.

Because seriously.
posted by darkstar at 8:35 PM on November 10, 2011 [41 favorites]


there's going to be all this angst and chiding about not celebrating the man's death, etc.

Something tells me there won't be a whole lot of angst or chiding about it. There might be some MeTa discussion about how that's not really what Metafilter is for. And I can say in advance that I think it'd probably best if the mods just deleted every Dick Cheney obit thread right off the bat, because yeah, that's not what MeFi is for. But angst and chiding? Nah. We'll all feel the same way about it. It just won't be a great thing to have a thread about feeling that way.
posted by The World Famous at 8:56 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the long view for these people is a much broader view than US political parties by now. They have no nationalities, no borders. There is an entire world to be fucked over.
posted by zoinks at 9:04 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Godwined in two!

I think Godwin has jumped the shark.
I think I'm officially now more annoyed by calls of Godwin than references to Hitler.

But Dick Cheney annoys me more. Not that I want him dead. What I want is a series of successful, rational, progressive evolutions in American democracy with good ole Dick stuck on sidelines, powerless to do anything but be likened to Hitler.

I hope he lives well into his 90s and eventually realizes that love is all you need.
posted by philip-random at 9:49 PM on November 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


Years ago, when Bush I was in power, I remember reading this story of a woman who claimed that Dick Cheney held "human safaris", where Dick and friends would hire these poor local kids, then strip em down and xhase them through the woods with non lethal ammo. At the time, everyone assumed she was crazy...but ya know, maybe Cheney and pals arranged all of this just so theyd have poor folks to hunt in the off season.
posted by dejah420 at 10:06 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Does the GOP really even represent the wealthy anymore? Because even the most cartoonish conceptualizations of corporate fatcats need a sustainable pillaging plan, and what's going on now isn't sustainable. If there really was a thoughtful strategy behind enriching the wealthy, I'd think they'd be taking the long view."

As Karl Marx once said "History repeats itself. First as tragedy, second as farce." Bush/Cheney was the tragedy, the current crop of Republicans are the comedy act. Or to put it another way, the professional thieves already stole everything they wanted and got away, and now we're seeing the second generation that wants to make its bones by ripping off the government.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:21 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have no idea where MeFi got the idea that the GOP is somehow a party in trouble that represents absolutely no one, but that seems to be a sticking point lately. Remember the last time the GOP WAS TOTALLY FINISHED LOL and then we got the Tea Party.

Chickens and counting them, etc.
posted by GilloD at 12:33 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think the GOP is at all in danger of fading away. They have metastasized into an institution that is insidiously and nearly perfectly suited to winning elections without actually representing the practical political needs of many of the people that actually vote for them. It's astoundingly effective.

They are an extreme evolutionary success in that regard. They have developed an almost perfect blend of tenets to take advantage of some of human nature's most powerful driving motivations: greed and fear. They are a wonder of speciated fitness, feeding the selfish desire for self-enrichment of the monied class while exploiting ethnocentrism and fear of change among the poor. It's really marvelous, in a way, at how this human institution has fitted so well into its social niche.

The political equivalent of a virus, I think, that does no one any good except the organism itself, while still being extremely effective at surviving and replicating even though it damages or kills its host.

Sadly, our culture has not yet developed a herd immunity to this particular virus. Perhaps in another few thousand years of human social evolution, we might be able to get past the foibles that enable a political party like the GOP to thrive in our midst. But until then, as long as there's greed, fear of change and nativism in the human heart to be exploited, the GOP (or at least it's most virulent strain) is in no danger of fading away any time soon.
posted by darkstar at 2:12 AM on November 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


What I'm waiting for is whatever statute of limitations/freedom of information act restrictions which may be in effect to expire, and for all of Cheney's papers to finally be released into the public. I'm convinced that a lot of what we find will imply that a) Cheney was the real power during the Bush presidency and b) that the man was pathologically paranoid.

It'll be sort of like our William Mackenzie King, only Cheney's eccentricity did a lot more harm.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:01 AM on November 11, 2011


He's not an eccentric; he's a guru of greed, a sultan of sociopathy, and a magnate of misanthropy.

The damage done by this man is incalculable. The world would be a better place if he'd never been.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:22 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's why I'm going to go on the record as dancing, right now, on the verdant, sunny ground where his grave one day will be.

Nothing ever grows on Dick Cheney's grave. It remains as bare and arid as the day the gravediggers first cut their spades into the dry soil. Even the local squirrels give the spot a wide, cautious berth, as if they know that something terrible merely slumbers below, biding its time.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:42 AM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cheney R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
posted by Renoroc at 4:53 AM on November 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Pardon my ignorance of the American system, but what would it take to get the Republican party off the ballot altogether? I'll bet the Nazi party represents more people in the US than the GOP at this point.

I don't I can pardon ignorance as total as that, actually. Not from someone who lives in a country which has one land border and one only, and that's with the United States. I live half way across the world and I'm somehow able to remember that the Republicans control one of the two congressional bodies and a fair number of states, and that they did very well in the 2010 elections. The Nazi party? Not so much.
posted by atrazine at 5:00 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


He's not an eccentric; he's a guru of greed, a sultan of sociopathy, and a magnate of misanthropy.

I only went with "eccentric" as "total fucking nutbar" seemed an insult to other nutbars.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:02 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


At the risk of sound utterly cliche' & whatnot, I'll point out that the greatest trick the GOP ever played was convincing middle America that it represented (all of) their interests.

Let's face it: for much of the now-living U.S. voting population, we've seen probably the absolute WORST presidential administration in history (Nixon) as well as one of the most successful, at least in terms of prosperity and general well-being (Clinton). How the GOP has managed to convince Joe Six-Pack that they've got his interests in mind is truly mind-blowing.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:14 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I always knew that Voldemort Cheney was behind this.
posted by caddis at 6:06 AM on November 11, 2011


Unless you consider Bush2 a continuation of the Nixon Administration (and there is a case to be made for that), Nixon's was not the absolute worst administration in American history. It was really bad, but W's reign was much worse.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:14 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think Godwin has jumped the shark.
I think I'm officially now more annoyed by calls of Godwin than references to Hitler.


I think jumping the shark is so 2003.

I am officially more annoyed by calls for shark jumping than by Godwin, Hitler or even grammar-Nazis.
posted by wobumingbai at 6:15 AM on November 11, 2011


I once heard a perfect description of our ex-Vice President:

"If Dick Cheney were on an ocean liner that sank, he would be promoting cannibalism before anyone boarded the lifeboats."
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:19 AM on November 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Never underestimate the size and motivation of the Fox-News-generated "cult" of Republican/"conservative" voters.

Case in point: I belong to a business-networking group that helps self-employed people broaden their contacts. It attracts all kinds of people, but the majority of them are what I would call business-centric, laissez-faire conservatives.

One member of my group is a very personable kid, about 25 years old, who is college-educated (went to my alma mater, even) and is fulfilling his destiny by assuming the reins of his father's insurance agency.

Politically, he is a business-knows-best-and-liberals-must-die conservative. The problem is the "facts" he bases his decisions on are a litany of lies and conservative talking points. For instance, he thinks that Reagan was a god among men. When I mentioned that the deficit went up under Reagan and that Reagan raised taxes 8 times, he laughed and said I was sadly mistaken. This is a kid who wasn't even alive during Reagan's presidency who's cocksure that he knows more about Saint Reagan than a man who was a working adult during Reagan's presidency.

Sadly, I've met a lot of people like this kid. Facts will never change their viewpoint. They are steeped in a gospel, and anyone who disagrees is heretic. It goes much deeper than politics.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:22 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Let's face it: for much of the now-living U.S. voting population, we've seen probably the absolute WORST presidential administration in history (Nixon)

I would rather have Nixon for 8 terms rather than George W. Bush for 1. Nixon was basically our last liberal president. Bush destroyed our economy and spent the money to make sure nobody could actually fix it.

Clinton, of course, is vying with Eisenhower as the best Republican president since WWII. I've always been convinced that one of the reason the GOP hates him so much is that he did such a better job with the GOP platform than they ever could.
posted by eriko at 6:24 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Remember the last time the GOP WAS TOTALLY FINISHED LOL and then we got the Tea Party.

Oooh, boogity boogity boogity, the Tea Party! Sure, they got some whackos elected during the 2010 midterms, but they also probably cost the GOP the Senate. Republican presidential candidates are losing support in direct proportion to how much they embrace the Tea Party, and the likely nominee is the least tied to the Tea Party. Presidential elections have a broader, more moderate electorate than midterms. I wouldn't be surprised to see two types of backlash against the Tea Party in 2012: from scared moderates and from Teabaggers themselves, since the nutjobs they elected didn't do what they elected them to do.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:44 AM on November 11, 2011


I think jumping the shark is so 2003.
I think we need to do away with this "oh the past is sooo lame" attitude, by logical extension it means that the present does too.
And concerning the OP, I have nothing nice or particularly interesting to say. Sorry. Except perhaps that I hope nobody out of the US of A manages to reverse engineer the GOP recipe for electoral success.
posted by hat_eater at 7:37 AM on November 11, 2011


the present "is too", not "does too".
posted by hat_eater at 7:38 AM on November 11, 2011


And OP means Original Post in some places. Sometimes. To be precise, in my head, for a critical moment. Now please allow me kindly to shut up.
posted by hat_eater at 7:50 AM on November 11, 2011


I look forward to the day when historians list Dick Cheney among the worst villains in history.

That can be his fucking legacy.
posted by quin at 8:24 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Its actually pretty amazing how backed into a corner the GOP is.

I have a buddy who works for an extremely senior Dem congressman. That Friday that Boehner couldn't get his own caucus to vote for his own bill, he said the fellow staffer who worked on that issue came out and started singing "na na na na, na na na na, hey-y goodbye." My friend pointed out that this election will be the first one in living memory where the parties aren't running to the middle--where there is truly a wide gap between the two on the biggest issue facing the country.

What exactly are the Republicans going to say next fall? That the rich need their money? A majority of Republicans disagree with that very position. 65% of the country thinks the rich need to be taxed more. But the GOP has enraged their army of zombies with the anti-tax pledge. Turnout will be depressed for them in an election against the most sophisticated turnout and donation machine ever created.

Say what you will about Obamacare, but it cuts deficits while insuring more and its based on the GOP front-runner's lauded by Dems healthcare law. Currently Romney says it was good for Mass. but not good for the rest of the country. Sorry USA! We got a good system here, but you can't have it because its ok when a state has a mandate but not when the national government does.

And seriously, every one of their tax plans is insanely regressive and will wither under the spotlight of Obama arguing against it in ways the GOP candidates can not.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:41 AM on November 11, 2011


I'm only at page 6, because I have a job etc. But I feel a need to say to everyone: RTFA!! The exerpt above is only a tiny bit of the horrors exposed.
Instead of cute tv-appearances, someone like Buffet needs to finance a counter-Fox, to get this All out to the general public.
posted by mumimor at 8:55 AM on November 11, 2011


I don't know what's sadder.

That the country has come to this eventual conclusion or that Rolling Stone is becoming the bastion of serious political discourse in this country.
posted by Talez at 9:04 AM on November 11, 2011


Allow me to repeat myself repeating myself from a previous thread:

Richard M Nixon was a complex man and a master politician. The fact that some of his policies (from 40+ years back) seem liberal now is far more a reflection of how times (and overall thinking) have changed, not the man's personal politics. He was the definition of machiavellian, a man who made his initial name by riding the coat-tails of Joseph McCarthy, a political animal who would have flourished in any culture ... which probably explains how he managed to connect so well with Mao.

Nixon (probably Oliver Stone's best movie) captures this very well.


In other words, if he found himself in George W's historical/political situation, I suspect his transgressions against humanity in general would have been at least as bad, likely far worse ... and he wouldn't even have needed a Cheney.
posted by philip-random at 9:39 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oooh, boogity boogity boogity, the Tea Party! Sure, they got some whackos elected during the 2010 midterms, but they also probably cost the GOP the Senate

And managed to completely and utterly derail the national dialog on urgent issues for a solid year or so. Even if they never show up again the Tea Party nonsense was a devastating hit and run for progressive politics.
posted by GilloD at 9:49 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll bet the Nazi party represents more people in the US than the GOP at this point.

weezy, I don't know what you're smoking/snorting/shooting/and-or drinking, but for those of us who've actually seen polls... you're better off not betting.

AFAICT, if the Republican party came out with a WE EAT BABIES platform, their popularity would only suffer modestly, and probably gain a small bit in the 50+ demographics. If there are enough childless multimillionaires (or one childless billionaire), it might even increase...
posted by IAmBroom at 9:51 AM on November 11, 2011


I think the GOP's new strategy is to purposefully throw the White House to Democrats, while they take up every legislative and judicial seat in the states and Federal government.

The night Scooter Libby got indicted, I found myself randomly downing beers and going over a printout of the indictment with ABC's White House Correspondent, Terry Moran. Over an hour or so, we ranged over politics. He described himself as a "Lieberman" democrat, when we got to cheney, he described a ten-day plane ride around the middle east with cheney to drum up support for the iraq war. "Cheney is a madman" were his exact words.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:01 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oooh, boogity boogity boogity, the Tea Party! Sure, they got some whackos elected during the 2010 midterms, but they also probably cost the GOP the Senate

They improved their numbers in the Senate. Have you seen the Senate races that are in-play in 2012. A republican takeover of the Senate looks highly possible, if not probable.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:16 AM on November 11, 2011


I found an old Frontline concerning events between 9/11 and the Iraq war quite interesting in terms of figuring Cheney out.

It didn't really paint him as malevolent; more as a guy who would do anything to protect his country, even destroy its reasons to be (not that he'd be conscious of this). For instance, his response to 9/11 was NEVER AGAIN, NOT ON MY WATCH, FORTRESS AMERICA WILL NOT BE BREACHED BY ITS ENEMIES EVER AGAIN. In fact, you got the impression that he felt he hadn't had enough power leading up to 9/11, that if he had it never would have happened. So in the aftermath, he made damn sure he had that power, making all the necessary machiavellian moves. But in his mind (and his soul if he had one) he was doing the right thing.

The hard work of freedom.
posted by philip-random at 10:18 AM on November 11, 2011






In fact, you got the impression that he felt he hadn't had enough power leading up to 9/11, that if he had it never would have happened.

I guess he didn't realize that all he had to do to prevent it was pay attention in a meeting and make a couple of calls to the FBI.
posted by The World Famous at 11:19 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wall Street Traders Have Profited More Under Obama Than In Eight Years Under Bush

Obviously the solution is to support G W Bush over Obama.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:52 AM on November 11, 2011


Not to mention the fact that the titanic decline at the end of Bush's reign is the reason for that.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:54 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


For instance, his response to 9/11 was NEVER AGAIN, NOT ON MY WATCH, FORTRESS AMERICA WILL NOT BE BREACHED BY ITS ENEMIES EVER AGAIN.

If only the Bush Administration had been competent enough not to require the "again"s.
posted by Gelatin at 1:16 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


NEVER AGAIN, NOT ON MY WATCH, FORTRESS AMERICA WILL NOT BE BREACHED BY ITS ENEMIES EVER AGAIN

Oops.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:47 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just so everyone knows: the people who were behind the global financial crisis and then benefited the most from it now form the core of Obama's economic team. So, GW and Dick may have done irreperable harm to the US and the world, but Obama is continuing the legacy. After all, he is also in the 1%.
posted by Vindaloo at 6:29 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wall Street Traders Have Profited More Under Obama Than In Eight Years Under Bush

Enough with this frickin' angsty, Wall-Street-bashing, populist crap already. Somebody needs to tell OWS that if they want to make a difference, it's Capitol Hill they need to occupy, until these mind-bogglingly inequitable, economy-raping, job-killing tax cuts for the wealthy are repealed. Also, this article should be required reading.
posted by GIFtheory at 8:49 PM on November 11, 2011


Vindaloo: "Just so everyone knows: the people who were behind the global financial crisis and then benefited the most from it now form the core of Obama's economic team."

You know, I mentioned that a few days after Pres Obama announced who his economic team was, and said that if I had wanted a Republican running the White House, I would have voted for one. I felt very "bait-and-switched" by the economic and cabinet decisions of the newly elected Changer. I was shouted down then on the blue by people who practically demanded loyalty oaths.

I say again, Obama and crew are *better* than Dick's White House...but the people in there defining policy for this White House...are all still Dicks.
posted by dejah420 at 8:55 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm only at page 6, because I have a job etc. But I feel a need to say to everyone: RTFA!! The exerpt above is only a tiny bit of the horrors exposed.

True. It's in the small hours of the morning, so maybe this is just fatigue, but I feel gutted by this piece. It's the most soul-crushing political reportage I've seen since the New Yorker article last year on how profoundly broken the Senate has become in the last few years, how many desperately-needed actions were crippled by unprecedented cynicism and deceit.

It feels like the antithesis of the founding of the country. Americans were unbelievably lucky to have the leadership we had after the Revolution -- noble statesmen and political philosophers who, for all their flaws, fought for something worthwhile. After that we had a string of leaders who rose to the various challenges we faced: Lincoln for the Civil War, both Roosevelts for trustbusting, the Great Depression, and WWII, Kennedy and Johnson and Eisenhower for the space age and the flourishing of the vast and prosperous middle class.

But for decades now we've been on a losing streak: Nixon's corruption, Carter's decency overtaken by events, the disaster of Reagan temporarily held back by the pragmatism of Bush I and Clinton only to be unleashed by Cheney and W. By all rights Obama's election should have been the pendulum swing back to inspiring leadership and sweeping, energizing reform, but whether you believe he's a stooge or merely outmaneuvered you can't help but feel like the familiar rhythm of American history is being interrupted.

I hope Ironmouth's right and that Republicans have overreached, but this article paints a frightening picture of a singularity of wealth so concentrated that it's warping the normal rules of politics. A relative pittance allocated by Armey and the Kochs in the form of the "grassroots" Tea Party hamstrung the overwhelming mandate of 2008, and now there's a critical mass of politicians, pundits, propagandists, and the public surreally arguing for deregulation and taxing the poor and reversing reforms at this of all times. And these forces control the House, the Supreme Court, and, aided by a flood of anonymous, unreguated cash, are even money to take the White House and Senate next year.

It's grotesque and horrible and contrary to anything that makes sense, but here we are. These political forces have done incalculable damage in the last few decades, grew more radical in response, and are poised to gain even more power right when we desperately need to slam on the brakes and reverse course. And I'm surrounded by people, friends and family who cheer that movement on even as it's dismantling everything that made the United States a strong, safe, and prosperous society. It makes me despair for the kids in my extended family, because I can't honestly believe any more that they'll be able to live lives largely free of want, fear, instability, and danger. And the people architecting that social collapse will doubtless escape all consequences. It's sickening.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:32 AM on November 14, 2011


a singularity of wealth so concentrated that it's warping the normal rules of politics

Warping? Not really. The normal rules of politics always and everywhere operate to consolidate and entrench the power of the already powerful.

The much-vaunted "checks and balances" built into the US constitution are there to keep the masses and their representatives squabbling amongst themselves, lest they become uppity and troublesome.

It's grotesque and horrible

Quite.

and contrary to anything that makes sense

No, it makes perfect sense.

the people architecting that social collapse will doubtless escape all consequences

That's why it makes perfect sense.

It's sickening.

But normal.
posted by flabdablet at 6:28 AM on November 16, 2011


Warping? Not really. The normal rules of politics always and everywhere operate to consolidate and entrench the power of the already powerful.

Well yes, but as the wealth gap gets larger and larger, the power gap also does. I'm relatively okay with people being able to use money to get favors, access, etc. It's shitty, but there's no real way to get around it perfectly. Until recently, it's been the case that the middle class had enough wealth that they could balance out the power of wealthy to an extent. Something tipped in the 80s and power and money have been steadily getting siphoned away from the middle class into the hands of the extremely wealthy and now democracy is broken because of it.

Part of the solution is to 'reduce the role of money in politics', but part of the solution is going to also have to be wealth redistribution through taxes on the wealthy and government spending -- which would have a nice side benefit of jumpstarting the economy.
posted by empath at 7:42 AM on November 16, 2011


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