Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Robert Scheer On GOP Hypocrites

On Truthdig today, Robert Scheer has a good column about the current Republican squalling over the just-signed stimulus bill and how ridiculous it is for them to criticize and obstruct when, for the most part, they and the Bush administration which they whole-heartedly supported are the ones who got us all into this mess in the first place. (The full column is below; to read the comments or reply to it yourself, go here.) He also points out that, just a few months ago, they had no problem throwing dumpsters full of cash to Wall Street financiers and other fat cats with no demand of accountability, but now object mightily to Congress trying to do something for poor and middle class Americans who really need help.

My question here is, as it has been for a few weeks now, why are the Republicans given any credibility in this matter whatsoever? Our current financial problems are demonstrably a direct result of policies put in place by Ronald Reagan and Bush I, triangulated and unfortunately co-opted and continued in many cases by Bill Clinton (The Best Republican President of the Late 20th Century, imho) and then pumped up on steroids and human growth hormone and jet fuel during the Bush II Reign of Error. In other words, it's mainly their fault that the economy has tanked, and it's as a direct result of their policies of deregulation and tax cuts. And yet what do they advocate in an attempt to make things better for the country (and by extension, the world)? More of the same. Tax cuts for the wealthy. Tax cuts for corporations. Less government regulation (because that policy has worked so very well these past 30 years). No relief for people who are losing their homes, their jobs, their health care, their chance to get an education. Just more efforts to line the pockets of the wealthiest among us, as if they need more write-offs and loopholes. The GOP has gotten it astoundingly, embarrassingly and dangerously wrong ever since Reagan took office, and yet their spokesmen are quoted and listened to as if they had something of value to contribute to the conversation. They don't. Every time John Boehner or Mitch McConnell or Eric Cantor or Newt Gingrich or John McCain or any of their compatriots starts pissing and moaning about the stimulus bill (or pretty much anything else these days), they should be handed a big steaming cup of Shut The Fuck Up and laughed out of the room. They have zero credibility on this issue, and no one with even the tiniest whisper of intelligence should pay them any mind. Their predictions and pronouncements should be regarded as no more than the wind whistling through an abandoned building, hollow background noise bereft of any substance or worth.

Honestly, I do not understand how anyone can take these people seriously.

Oh, and here's Mr. Scheer's column (emphases mine):

Good Money After Bad

Posted on Feb 18, 2009

By Robert Scheer

The Republican-engineered controversy around the stimulus is a phony.

The stimulus package that President Obama signed into law Tuesday is a modest effort, actually too modest, at arresting the free fall of the American economy. It’s just not that expensive in light of the dimensions of the economic crisis, most of it is quite conservatively aimed at tax cuts for a suffering public and bailouts for beleaguered state programs, and it pales in comparison with the trillions wasted on the bloated military budget during the Bush years.

Furthermore, it is obscene that the Republicans who created this mess dare question the cost of a stimulus package directed at meeting a crisis that their radical deregulation of the financial markets created. While it is true that too many Democrats went along with the Republican deregulatory zealots, it is the prime legacy of the GOP going back to the Reagan Revolution that has been called into question.

The decisive deregulation that opened the door for the Wall Street swindlers was pushed through Congress by then-Sen. Phil Gramm, a Texas Republican. He was rabidly backed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., whose support of deregulation dates back to his interventions on behalf of the savings and loan hustlers whose shenanigans foreshadowed the current Wall Street scandals. Yet McCain now faults Obama for acting boldly to deal with a similar but far larger mess. It is a tribute to Obama’s leadership that he was able to get a much-needed bill passed in record time, thereby giving the millions of Americans now hurting a shot at recovery.

Key Republican governors, from Florida to California, know this, which is why they and many other governors who actually must address the needs of constituents have rallied to the president’s side. “It really is a matter of perspective,” Florida’s Republican Gov. Charlie Crist noted recently after appearing with Obama in support of the stimulus plan, because it “helps us meet the needs of the people in a very difficult economic time.”

Congressional Republicans, with the exception of that embarrassingly shrunken contingent of three moderates, will rue their legacy of deep indifference at a time of true national emergency, one that makes George W. Bush’s far more costly war on terror now seem an absurdly irrelevant exercise. The financial impact on Wall Street from al-Qaida’s 9/11 attacks is small compared with the damage done by the bankers whom the Bush administration coddled and who laid waste to the entire financial system.

The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy combined with the trillions wasted on unnecessary military spending dwarf the costs of the Obama stimulus package. The money wasted in Iraq, a misguided nation-building effort that had nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was supported uncritically by the same Republicans who now heap such scorn on efforts to rebuild our own nation.

They draw the line at a stimulus bill that funnels $135 billion directly to the bankrupted state governments to help pay for Medicaid, education and infrastructure. Yet they cannot account for the far larger sums wasted in their support of the terminally corrupt governments of Iraq and Afghanistan. It was just peachy to run up immense deficits pursuing irrational foreign adventures, but efforts to create jobs at home are viewed through a lens of criticism.

Bill Clinton said in a CNN interview: “I find it amazing that the Republicans, who doubled the debt of the country in eight years and produced no new jobs doing it, [and] gave us an economic record that was totally bereft of any productive result, are now criticizing him [Obama] for spending money.”

The irony is that the congressional Republicans, who at the end of the Bush presidency authored the much more expensive banking bailout that eventually will throw trillions at Wall Street, oppose a much smaller stimulus package that comes to the assistance of ordinary Americans. While approving of $125 billion in payouts to AIG and tens of billions more to each of the top banks, they question spending far smaller amounts to aid the victims of bankers’ greed; $2 billion to redevelop abandoned and foreclosed homes, $2.1 billion for Head Start programs for poor kids, $1.2 billion to construct and repair veterans hospitals and cemeteries and a miserly $555 million to help defense employees sell their homes.

The only valid criticism to be made of the stimulus bill that Obama signed Tuesday with deserved pride of authorship is that it is too small for the enormous problem at hand. But if it had been up to the Republicans, we wouldn’t be doing anything at all.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Republicans Have All The Answers

Do you have a problem? Boss hates you, girlfriend wants to break up, truck needs new tires and a carburetor, dog died? You find yourself making less money and doing more work? Getting tortured regularly at Gitmo?

Here's your answer, courtesy of the GOP.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Present To Myself

So I was in line at the supermarket this evening when something caught my eye among the tabloids and the soap opera magazines there at the check-out stand. Had I been drinking milk, it probably would have shot out my nose. Good thing I never drink milk. It was half-hidden on one of the small racks generally reserved for Soap Opera Digest or some other lowbrow publication, and the title of it had me laughing to myself like a crazy person hearing clever voices on a city sidewalk in the summer.

I decided that it was worth an impulse birthday purchase, if only to share the joke with a few of my friends. What is it that tickled my fancy so much? Nothing much. It's just a slim volume titled "The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Bible."

No, seriously. What a great birthday present.

Republican Origins

From RJ Matson in the St. Louis Dispatch (h/t to Truthdig).

Sheriff John's Birthday Cake Polka

Monday, February 09, 2009

They Like Me! They Really Like Me!

The folks over at SFist saw some of my Chinese New Year parade pictures from this past Saturday and liked them so much they posted 17 of them on their site.

Excuse me while I take a pin to this inflated ego of mine...

Here are a few; you can see more in the set on my Flickr site.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bale vs. Bill-O

Some clever person has made a mix video using the Christian Bale on-set blow up tape combined with Bill O'Reilly's on-air meltdown from when he was with Inside Edition, and the result is quite amusing:

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Brief Quiz

Here's a question that I've had for a few weeks now, and I would really like an answer, because honestly, I don't know. I will, however, admit to just a smidgen of schandenfreude in asking, but in all seriousness, if anyone out there can enlighten me, I'd very much appreciate it.

Who is the real leader of the Republican Party today?

* John McCain
* John Boehner
* Mitch McConnell
* Michael Steele
* Rush Limbaugh
* Sarah Palin
* Karl Rove
* Somebody else not mentioned

Anyone? Anyone...? Bueller?

Monday, February 02, 2009

A Very Cool Thing

So here's something very cool -- at least *I* think it is -- some of my photographs are printed up in large format and are on display (and for sale!) at a copy shop in Boston. Here's the scoop: As many of you already know, I've been participating in a group photoblog, called Pixels at an Exhibition, for the past couple months with my pals Tom Hilton and ahab (Michael Daley). A woman named Donna who follows that site enjoys our photographs very much. She works at a place called Copy Cop in Copley Square, a high-traffic area near the Old First Church, and when they got some new large-scale printers, she thought it might be fun to print up some of the pictures she had enjoyed on our site. We, of course, were flattered and excited to have our work printed up and displayed, so we agreed. Her manager and the store owner liked the idea as well, and suggested that these large prints be put up for a period of approximately three months, with proper accreditation and a link back to our site. And a price tag! I have no idea if anyone in Boston will decide that one of our pictures is worth spending some of their hard-earned cash on, but even if none of them sell, I'm not out anything, and I still have the satisfaction of knowing that a lot more people have seen my work than would have otherwise. And if one or more gets sold... bonus!

Major props and thanks to the lovely and talented Donna!

Here's what it looks like at Copy Cop; if any of you reading this find yourselves in the Boston area in the next few months and are able to swing by and take a look, I'd love to hear from you about your impression of the photos in person.

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