Saturday, February 13, 2010


If we go by dates, today is three months since the brain surgery (Nov. 13th). And I still have no inclination to write lists. But I did come up with a way to sort of force myself into one, which I did the first half of yesterday, summing up one aspect of the last decade. Here's the other half:

16. in 2006, with Republicans controlling all three branches of the U. S. government for six years, the results are almost universally bad. The prestige of the U.S. around the world is at an alltime low. The enormous surplus (largest in history) left by the Clinton/Gore administration is being turned into what will become the largest deficit in history. Many bad statistics that had been going down (crime, teenage pregnancies, etc.) during the Clinton years, start going back up. Etc.

17. The economy is riding on a housing bubble, and though there are beginning to be warnings about that and the necessity for regulating financial institutions and their new and almost impossible to understand ways of making enormous profits that don't benefit anyone but the rich, the Republicans in charge ignore it all and refuse to pass any bills that will help with growing healthcare costs, corporate control of the government (for the first time in history, an administration and its minions in the Republican controlled Congress allow corporations to actually write the laws they pass favoring their industries, like banking, oil, etc.), or that will help the military/veterans, etc. (not to mention, which I didn't yesterday the Republican Jack Abramoff influence peddling scandal).

18. In 2006 U.S. military deaths in Iraq pass 3,000.

19. In November of '06 Republicans lose their majority in Congress and as a result Rumsfeld is replaced as Secretary of Defense and finally Congress in the next two years under the Democrats pass bills to help our veterans and troops in the field (it's Democrats who finally get military vehicles, in particular Humvees, the armor they went to war without, and get vets the benefits they and the Dems have been fighting for and deserve, but the rightwing Republicans use their mastery of spinning the media to convince uneducated or uninterested or ideologically frozen citizens to continue to mistake the Republicans as caring about our troops or our national security beyond defense contracts etc.).

20. In 2007 the global financial crash begins.

21. The U. S. is hit hard by the worldwide financial crash in part because of the Bush/Cheney Republican machine cutting taxes for the rich and waging two extremely costly wars—much of that cost going to graft and unaccountable "private" contractors—and the continuing rise in the price of oil (benefiting the Bush family business as well as Cheney's), etc.

22. By 2008 the U.S. death toll in Iraq alone exceeds 4,000 (again, not counting mercenaries or "private" contractors—"private" meaning taxpayers pay for somebody else to make a profit on these wars).

23. I forgot to mention in yesterday's list for 2001 the fact that Osama Bin Laden was trapped in a cave and allowed to go free for reasons that still remain highly questionable if not mysterious. By 2008 he has not only regrouped and extended his influence, but the Al Queda networking system for increasing terrorist attacks has expanded into other areas besides Afghanistan and Pakistan, i.e. Somalia and Yemen etc. So actual terrorism and the number of terrorists pursuing it has grown exponentially since the Bush/Cheney machine invaded Iraq.

24. Also in 2008, Lehman Brothers collapses and so does the stock market, down close to 31% for the year, the worst since The Great Depression. Most economists and CEOs of major "financial institutions" predict and/or fear a depression worse than that of the 1930s.

25. And the Bush administration through Hank Paulson creates a giant bailout package for banks and financial institutions "too big to fail" etc.

26. Oh, and Barack Obama is elected president.

27. In 2009 he takes office under the worst circumstances any president has faced since FDR (two wars and the biggest deficit in history plus a collapsed economy worlwide etc.) according to many historians, a few even suggest the worst conditions since Lincoln took office!

28. Three days into his tenure, rightwing commentators and leaders are already attacking Obama, some calling him, (already!), "the worst president in history"! (You can look them up, this is a blog not a history book, but one prominent example is the Bush Jr. speechwriter Marc Theissen.)

29. In his first weeks, before he even has a chance to change anything (and with Republicans already trying to block every attempt Obama makes to change the previous administration's policies) rightwingers blame the continuing decline in the stock market on Obama, but refuse to credit him when that decline stops after he institutes some major measures including a stimulus package that has many more restraints on it than the earlier Bush/Cheney bailout.

30. As he heads toward the end of his first year in office, Obama is beset on every side by criticism and a poll shows that only 12% of the population even realizes Obama cut taxes for "the middle class" already, as well as stopped wasting money and federal agents and resources on closing down medical marijuana centers in California and other states where they are legal (another instance of rightwing Republicans picking and choosing their constitutional defenses, i.e. states rights when states want to oppress a minority or thwart a change that might benefit someone other than their corporate pals, but no states rights when it comes to deciding that doctors should be the ones who determine whether a patient can use marijuana for medical reasons etc.), or that Obama's administration increased the number of children and others who can get healthcare etc. Though in many ways, just by addressing the many mistakes of the Bush/Cheney regime, Obama has already, before his first year is even up, turned many things around, like the reputation of the U.S. around the world, the precipitous decline in the stock market and the economy in general, avoided another Great Depression, changed the topic for many from burning flags and hostility to gays and abortion and etc. to helping people who are unemployed without healthcare and ending the two wars that have become the longest in our history. (And he caught a fly in his bare hand without missing a beat while being interviewed on TV expressing himself eloquently, with humility and good humor. Something the previous president couldn't even do well with a a microphone hidden in his jacket telling him what to say).

That's just a brief and perhaps oversimplified perspective on the past decade, but you know it's true.


JIm said...

George W. took over in the midst of a recession. Being a student of history he looked at FDR, JFK and Reagan. FDR greatly expanded the government control of the economy and increased taxes and tariffs. The Depression took a double dip as a result. George W. looked to JFK and Reagan who decreased taxes. Unfortunately he did not cut spending or even make a half hearted effort to limit it. George W. is not a Tea Party hero on spending. However, the economy quickly rallied until the mortgage and real estate collapse. There are many villains in the collapse. Carter initiated it with a government program encouraging home ownership amongst folks who could not afford to buy. It was expanded under Clinton. George W. and Allen Greenspan tried to rein in the 100 to one leverage of the GSE's but was defeated by Democrats(Dodd,Frank and Obama)and some Republicans(Most notably Bennet of Utah who is facing a Tea Party primary challenge).
The world loved the idea of Obama as president. But since his election countries that he extended a hand of friendship to(Iran Korea and Russia) have told him to pound sand. Our allies(France and Israel) either mock him or distrust him or both. The British Prime Minister, a liberal, attempted to play up to Obama and is likely to be voted out of office in May. In his first year in office Obama/Pelosi/Reid have carried out a war against American business and jobs. He has threatened increased taxes, rules and regulations. Employers do not know what government will do to them so they do not hire or expand. We have a real unemployment of about 16%. Idiology prevents Obama from become economically friendly which means it is unlikely the employment picture will improve before the 2010 election. Thus, our prospects are actually looking up. Within in a year we may have a congress controlled by conservatives which might limit the damage that this liberal/socialist/Marxist president can do.

オテモヤン said...
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Robert G. Zuckerman said...


Going tit for tat with Michael is not going to change his thinking, nor is his writing likely to change yours. But there comes a time, if we're lucky, when we have to face the truth in ourselves. Often this occurs if we are lucky enough to experience in life our own mortality and survive. In the early '90s on one of the morning talk shows a middle aged woman was being interviewed. She came from an old-money, blue-blood aristocratic WASP background and had spent her whole life looking down with disdain on anyone who wasn't a member of her set. Then in the '80s she had been in the hospital for a blood transfusion and became HIV positive as a result. Now, her entire perspective had changed - she was now a gay activist, an advocate for the underprivileged and more.

It's interesting, don't you think, how some of the most vocal opponents and detractors of our President's economic stimulus package so ardently embraced and reveled once the funds came their way.

I can't stand hypocrites, my pet peeve, like Henry Hyde and his 'youthful indescretion', or morons who have American flags or PBA decals on their cars but toss lit cigarette butts and litter out their windows when they drive.

You ongoing commentary here reminds me of my Father, of blessed memory -- he was an Orthodox Jew, and a hardcore Republican who subscribed to and read the New York Times everyday for the sole reason that it pissed him off. He believed literally in the story of the Old Testament, yet, at the same time, he also belived that the mothership landed way back when in the Himalayan Mountains and populated the planet. He also taught me to respect those I don't agree with, and to always stop at stop signs.

Peace and security in the world will only come when hate stops and hate will stop, or at least decrease, when exploitation, greed and self-righeousness give way to an understanding of the bigger, deeper picture, and when people realize the it's not "us and them" but all "us".

JIm said...

You have a wisdom about you. I believe this is a critical year for America. We are having a national debate on what course our democratic republic will follow. We have history of strength and economic growth through individual freedon and equal opportunity. There have been bumps along the way, but there is no country in history that has offered as much equal opportunity to immigrant and natural born citizens. I and many others believe that has been put at risk by the expansion of big government to the detriment of free enterprise. The expansion of the national debt and the annual deficit puts our debt rating and whole system at risk. In fact we are increasingly influenced and dominated by our creditors, the most dangerous of which are China and mid east regimes. Socialists and free marketeers can disagree on the best economic system, but if we are bankrupt both will fail. The upcoming election will hopefully go a long way to sorting things out. We live in perilous times but also incredably interesting times.

Anonymous said...

Dear M:
Great post. But what's really frustrating about your lucid, persuasive, reality- and fact-based summation of the often criminal & anti-American republican-corporatist conspiracy is the inability of the Democrats to frame the political debates accordingly. Maybe Obama will fire Rahm & hire Howard Dean.

Lally said...

Yeah, the Dems have a ways to go in the learning how to win the propaganda wars. For one thing the rightwing Republicans are totally at ease with "the big lie" tactics of the Communists and Nazis etc. As in "death panels" "Obama is a socialist/communist/facist" "Republicans support the troops and Dems don't" (that's the one that bugs me the most being a veteran) et-endlessly-cetera.