Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Real Question O'The Day: "How's That Hands-Offey, Non-Regulatory Thing Workin’ For Ya?”

Eags (Timothy Egan) has a fine time knocking Dumbo heads in the grand tradition of Oliver Cromwell "knocking Irish heads" at the Battle of Drogheda (1649). Eags has an equal-opportunity cudgel in smiting a Dumbo adulterer (Congressman Mark Souder — R-IN), a Donkey lying weasel (Attorney General Richard Blumenthal — D-CT), and Dumbo hypocrites (Rand Paul — R-KY and Clint Didier — R-WA). Eags provides a lagniappe with the political question o'the day. If this is (fair & balanced) righteous anger, so be it.

PS: Double-Dog-Dare O' The Day — Look at the image of the TRW (True Republican Woman) warbling the national anthem (below) without shivering (or triggering the gag-reflex).

[x NY Fishwrap]
Real Stuff Referendum
By Timothy Egan

Tag Cloud of the following article

created at

Sex, lies, and hypocrisy: does an election day get any more entertaining? And that was before Republicans in Kentucky voted against the advice of the top Republican in Kentucky, and voters in Pennsylvania sent a Democrat to Congress who vowed to take on Democrats in Congress.

First, let’s share one last moment with the day’s diversions. Nothing playing at the local octoplex can match that video of Representative Mark Souder, the evangelical, family-values Republican from Indiana, giving a lecture on sexual restraint — with his then-secret mistress as the interviewer. He announced his resignation on Tuesday, leaving an homage to high school chastity clubs that should be shown at the Smithsonian, in continuous loop.

At the same time, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, called a news conference to explain how he had “misspoken” in claiming fictional service in Vietnam. Most of us have the same problem. I can swear I played third base for the Red Sox, and hit a dinger over the short fence at Fenway. Or was that whiffle ball with the kids?

If we can make it to November without any more distractions from the pious and the fabulists, it could be a fascinating election. I may be dreaming, but the vote of 2010 might be a mashup for the ages, one of those rare referendums on real stuff.

The Tea Party — that is, the talk-radio-grumpy-old-men wing of the Republican Party — now has some things to answer for, and will have to do more than pose as background for a media narrative on 24-hour cable.

In the Kentucky senate race, those pistol-packin’ partisans who think President Obama was born in Kenya and want government to go away are claiming Rand Paul, who routed the party establishment pick, as one of their own. This is a good development. For who makes up the Tea Party? At their rallies, you see a lot of people on Medicare and Social Security.

Now they have Rand Paul, with his libertarian heritage, to carry the banner. Dr. Paul has promised to fight for “liberty and limited government.”

If we take him at his word, he should move against the biggest obstacles to liberty and limited government in the federal budget: Social Security and Medicare. Since 1966, those two mandatory programs for old people have grown from 16 percent of the federal budget to nearly 40 percent. Medicare now covers about 45 million people. Those deficit-contributing citizens, all those people at Dr. Paul’s rallies with spare time on their hands, would be a logical target.

After all, is it not socialism to force younger taxpayers to pay for the shortfall on behalf of an expanding pool of older Americans? Doesn’t Ayn Rand’s philosophy hold that Wall Street should be free to run wild, that a national health care system for the elderly is tyranny and that the only way for people to live freely is with “full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism,” as Rand said?

We need to have this discussion; it is the fundamental disconnect among people who call themselves Tea Partiers. Rand Paul is the perfect person to force the issue. His father, Ron, was dismissed as a gadfly when he took fellow Republicans to task for putting a trillion dollars worth of wars on the credit card. Let’s see if the son also rises to fight.

In Washington state, many in the Tea Party are backing a former professional football player, Clint Didier, in the Republican race for Senate. He rails against taxpayer bailouts and encroaching socialism. But he doesn’t hate Big Government enough to refuse at least $140,000 in farm subsidies he’s taken since 1995, or the taxpayer-financed irrigation water that keeps his patch of eastern Washington from being barren.

Where is the Tea Party anger at these mostly red-county, fat-cat freeloaders who’ve been given nearly $250 billion in handouts over the last 15 years? I wait for the credible conservative candidate to make the case that taxpayers should not be stuffing nearly a quarter-trillion dollars into the pockets of people who keep high-fructose corn syrup in the American diet. With Clint Didier in the Senate race, at least we now have a poster child for corporate agriculture bailouts.

Too often, campaigns are about surface abstractions: liberty versus government control, real Americans versus Hollywood. But this year, large events of tragic and ongoing impact have occurred, prompting what should be a much bigger discussion of Real Stuff.

Those who argue for continuing the deregulatory trend of the last decade need to look at how well that worked for the families who lost their loved ones in the Massey coal mine, run by a company with a history of bucking government oversight while promoting politicians who do their bidding.

Those who think drill, baby, drill should be the national energy policy must consider the mortal blow to a marine ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico, because a global oil company didn’t want to spend the equivalent of a day’s profit on adequate controls.

And those who think the incomprehensible form of toxic capitalism that evolved in the snake pits of Wall Street should be left unfettered — in keeping with the emerging Rand Paul wing of the Republican Party and lobbyist-rolled representatives of both parties — should consider an astonishing figure from the Treasury Department.

The financial meltdown cost Americans $17 trillion in lost household net worth between 2007 and 2009, according to Alan Krueger, the chief economist for the department.

Copyright © 2010 Stuart Carlson

“How’s that hands-offey, non-regulatory thing workin’ for ya?” was the stinging tag of a recent cartoon by [freelance cartoonist] Stuart Carlson. It was meant as a punchline, but if this election does turn out to be about Real Stuff, it could also serve as a question every candidate will have to answer. Ω

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan is the author of four other books, in addition to The Worst Hard TimeThe Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest, Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West, Breaking Blue, and The Winemaker's Daughter. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]

Copyright © 2010 The New York Times Company

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