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Empire of Debt book
Bonner and Wiggin enumerate a long list of chronic ailments that imperil the American financial system--a massive trade deficit, soaring personal and government debt, a housing bubble, runaway military expenditures. They argue that American imperial delusions are similar to the fantasies that fueled the dot-com market mania. They recommend readers buy gold as insurance in the event of a financial crisis.

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The Stimulus Package Vote
Pubs grandstand themselves into oblivion

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
zeppscommentaries.com
January 28, 2009

Yesterday, someone asked me if I thought Obama's trip to the House to negotiate and press for his stimulus package might dent the stubbornness of the Republicans. I remarked that if the package got five GOP votes, that would be a strong indication that Obama had broken the hammerlock the ideologues had on the party.

In reality, I was expected to see it get about 25 or 30 Republican votes. Most Republicans are from dirt-poor areas, already hit extraordinarily hard by the economic implosion. Some of them, I reasoned, would remember that without some support from their constituents, it didn't matter how much they got from their corporate backers.

But every single one of them voted against it. The GOP just committed suicide.

My own District, California's Second District, is a good example of that. Most of it is given over to farming and ranching, with some ranching, tourism, and logging in the north. Not wealthy to begin with, the economy here has already hit Depression levels. In my town, a third of the businesses have already gone under, and in the City of Mount Shasta, which is larger and has a more variegated economy, dozens of businesses have folded, and many more are teetering.

The local Congressman is Wally Herger, a long-term House slug who achieved the dubious distinction of being the most senior member in the Republican House to not have the chair of a major committee. A Mormon, his biggest contributors include tobacco and liquor interests, none of which have a stake in the region. A corporate whore Congressman, in other words.

And obviously, he voted against the stimulus package. He voted for the GOP version, which featured big cuts in spending and – you guessed it – big tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. He wanted to eliminate highway spending the bill included, despite the fact that local highways are in terrible shape. He wanted to eliminate flood control spending, despite the fact that the southern part of his District is at risk of severe flooding from levee failures.

But in Herger's eyes, letting corporations externalize their costs whilst giving the idle rich a free ride by eliminating the capital gains tax was more important.

Like most of his ilk, he is an overpriviledged whiner with a false sense of entitlement. He deserves wealth because he is wealthy, and lives to protect that wealth. And no, he didn't earn it: he married into it. A whore, in the classic sense of the word.

A whore who cheats his clients in order to increase the profits of his pimp. A typical Republican.

The message the GOP sent today was that their own ideology, the notion that the American people exist to serve the wealthy and subsidize their ride in hopes that the wealthy might share some of it eventually, is far more important than the country itself.

It's nearly impossible to fathom the thinking among the GOP caucus. I know the right is shrill, doctrinaire, and antagonistic to working people. And I've been saying right along that it was pointless to negotiate or make concessions with such people because they are dealing in bad faith every instant.

But I didn't expect the GOP to make that so unutterably clear to everyone. Presumably, they just wanted to bitch-slap Obama (they lost 20 votes voting for their own bill, strangely enough), but the message to the American people is “We just don't care.”

Given that most people understand that it was Republican economic policies that got us in this mess, it was the absolute worst message they could send at this point. People blame them for the mess, and aren't interested in hearing the same old supply-side bullshit that has eroded income for working people, sent the living conditions of the poorest 20% of Americans to third-world levels, and turned the medical system and most public services into expensive, inept, capitalistic parodies of social services.

There was a good example of this trend issued by the Gallup people today, and reported by Nate Silver over at fivethirtyeight.com. Gallup conducted 360,000 in depth interviews during the campaign, and today released the first results: self-identification by party. Only five states leaned strongly Republican, by margins ranging from 23 points (Utah) to 7 points (Nebraska). The five states totaled 15 electoral votes. Only two other states showed any Republican advantage AT ALL, both by less than two points. So out of 50 states, only five are still solidly Republican.

And of course, that was before the actual election, and certainly before today's vote.

I should imagine that the GOP still has four of those states. Most have large Mormon populations, and those people are just plain strange. Even as they wave flags and chant about the Constitution, they very clearly show no commonality of values with the Constitution, and are contemptuous of self-rule by the people, preferring that it lay in the hands of Jesus.

It's an amazing fall for a party that was talking about having a permanent majority just five years ago. But it is self inflicted, and today's vote just cements it.

Part of the problem is that the Republicans have become so insular that they simply cannot see the vast chasm that has opened between themselves and the American people. Their base is a isolated and very tiny, albeit powerful minority, who continue to assure Republicans that the people can be bought off with propaganda, lies, appeals to God and Country, and false assertions of morality and fiscal probity.

In 2004, the American public could be suckered by such tactics, and were. But that was then. This is now. No matter how outrageous Ann Coulter gets, or how much Rush Limbaugh expounds and Bill O'Reilly blusters, it's over for the GOP. The people are fed up with the right, and their vicious, dishonest, bad-faith efforts to lie and cheat Americans out of their birthright.

Today's vote shows clearly that when Rush Limbaugh said “I want Obama to fail,” he wasn't out of step with the GOP, but indeed, represented the heart of it. They really do want to try to throw the country into gridlock in the midst of the deepest crisis it has faced since 1941 just so they can try to cast blame.

And they don't realize that ploy has run its course, and can't help them any more.

It will be interesting to see what happens next week in the Senate. A version of the Stimulus Bill will be debated there, and assuming that it has solid Democratic support, the only way the GOP can stop it is by filibustering it.

I'm not known for my high opinion of Republicans, but even I would have said they aren't that crazy just yesterday. Now I'm not so sure.

They are so busy trying to punish the Democrats for addressing the mess they created that they are committing suicide.

And they don't seem in the least bit aware of it.

Posted: February 2, 2009

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