A few decades ago if you ask American citizens who were the top three presidents, they would answer, “Washington, Lincoln, and FDR “. Now, if you ask the same question, you would get Washington, Lincoln and either Reagan or Obama. How is it that the most accomplished president of the 20th of century has faded from popular memory. The president that: recovered from the greatest Economic depression ever, assembled a team that won the second world war, established the most popular government program (social security ), all while suffering ther ravages of polio. The alphabet soup of agencies: CCC, WPA, FAA, FDIC, FHA, FCA, PWA, SEC, TVA and the NRA (not the evil corporate gun lobby), revolutionized the relationship between government and the public. Those moneyed interests that created the Great Depression, as well as, their latter day ilk who crashed the economy in this century, bought all the influence billions can buy to erase the public gains under FDR and thereby the admiration the public felt for FDR. Those who had stood in long soup kitchen lines were placed in jobs that not only boosted their self esteem and fed their families, but built major infrastructure projects, dams, parks and bridges, and family homes that we still see and enjoy today. The fading of those accomplishments from the public mind was not strictly due to the passing of the Greatest Generation, but intentionally debased by those spawn of the Gilded Age who built vast fortunes on the backs of workers and farmers. These despicable tyrants never want government to take their foot off the necks of the poor and vulnerable. The man who singlehandedly turned the country from a socialist revolution to a social democracy has been stabbed in the back by the descendants of those may have been spared the gallows.  

GOP Pipe Dream

April 10, 2015

     After Reagan’s landslide in 84 the GOP thought they had finally recovered from FDR era. The traditional legs of the GOP, the 1% and the military-industrial complex, had been joined by the conservative “Reagan Democrats”. Since the 70’s those blue collar jobs in the Midwest had been under pressure and anxiety was rising. The new coalition was able to hang together enough to get Bush I elected despite the extreme right-wing doubts about him. The corporate media said it was the end of the Democratic Party forever. When Clinton won in 92 the shock was extreme. How could a Governor from a small state with marital issues win despite an emerging extreme media collaboration? While there was gnashing of teeth on the national level Karl Rove was working on the fix, bring the fundamentalist believers from their spiritual isolation to the secular political world. By bringing a blank slate Texas Governor with a famous last name to national attention Rove showed the way forward for a decade. Despite watching 911 occur on his watch and the Iraq war fiasco the Rove coalition used fear to get Bush II re-elected.
    But while all this mixture stewed, a much deeper problem for the GOP was emerging. By wining 41% of the Hispanic vote Rove realized the coming problem, demographics. The rising birthrate of minorities coupled with the passing of older white conservatives was growing a progressive majority and surpassing the GOP three-legged stool. Despite vicious voter suppression acts in the states , data driven gerrymandering and increased extreme social media the unthinkable happened, Obama won. The GOP refused to believe it and stalled everyday to thwart Obama’s agenda  and 60 vote Senate as long as possible. By delaying and filibustering his economic recovery they were able to blame him and convince frustrated voters to take back the House in the off year. When he was reelected by a greater margin they knew it was absolutely time to reach out to enough Hispanic voters to offset the loss of white conservatives. By photo-shopping a few brown faces in the group scenes  and repeating the Family values message to Catholic Hispanics the GOP hopes they have a new coalition.
    The fallacy of this tactic is that unlike the white Union voters of the 70s and 80s, who forgot that the Democrat policies has brought their prosperity , minorities have fresh experiences with GOP/TEA  policies. e.g. racial profiling, payday lenders, privatizing Social Security, voter photo ID, food deserts,  ripping the social safety net, border militias, maximum sentencing, crushing student loans, defense contractor payoffs, predatory home lending, gutted public education, public displays of intimidation by open carry advocates, executions of the mentally ill, routine murder of unarmed civilians by local cops and vigilantes, mass incarceration, outsourcing to China, etc. So unless the geniuses of Madison Avenue can package the purveyors of these practices as healthy for new voters, the GOP will fade like the Whigs. I can’t wait.

Strange Encounter

January 23, 2015

I attended the 2015 swearing-in of the Texas legislature. While waiting the office of a Rep. I saw a band of TEA partiers activists (TPA) return from the floor after the vote for house speaker. After the Turner Massacre (Scott not Nate) they were consoling themselves by plotting revenge on the defectors and promising to march to the offices of the Naughty Nineteen to express undying gratitude.  While they were waiting a Lyndon LaRouche activist (LLA) came calling in the long stream of lobbyists of all sorts. A TEA Party activist  (TPA) seated by the door asked who LL was. The LLA instantly lit up , after a long morning of rejections, I suppose. He said LL worked on the Strategic Defense Initiative under Pres. Reagan (hoping to ingratiate himself by invoking St. Ronnie). But the TPA interjected, “Star Wars” (which really surprised me since I thought in the TPA world only DC Liberals called it Star Wars). Undeterred The LLA proceeded to say that LL had been railroaded by Pres. G. H. W. Bush to jail for five years .The TPA added she disliked the Bushes too and asked what LL had been up since. This question really invigorated the LLA. He reached in his bag and pulled out a glossy brochure. He flipped open to the International Development Bank article. The TPA asked,  “wasn’t that like the IMF or the Federal Reserve “,which she really didn’t like either. The LLA reassured her the IDB was the opposite of those.   She said she only liked her local bank. At this point the LLA decided he had done all he could and excused himself. Another TPA ambled  over and asked what that was all about. The first TPA recounted the conversation but when she got to the part where LL was “railroaded” by GHWB, the seconded TPA responded that no one was railroaded to jail for five years without cause. I hung my head and feared for the fate of the nation.

I will not stand

May 31, 2013

A long time ago I chose to no longer join in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. My reasoning was not centered on the “under God” addition, but rather I felt I, as some religious groups do,  that I could not pledge an oath to an inanimate object. I have, however, stood silently with a group while they recited the pledge. This choice was to demonstrate respect for the group and their attempt to show their patriotism. Then recently I heard a mother relate the story of her 15 year old daughter. She will not say the pledge until this nation lives up to the words of “Liberty and Justice for ALL” and I now fully support that choice. When undocumented aliens, Native Americans, Gays, the poor, those wrongly convicted and the powerless are all are free to  exercise LIfe, Liberty and shown Justice I will reconsider the pledge. Until then I will no longer stand.

Sequestration Rope-a-dope

February 26, 2013

The GOP is counting on the short game by letting sequestration go into effect. Claiming that they compromised by letting the tax giveaways to those with incomes over $450k the GOP believes they have boxed Obama in to accept only deep spending cuts. The effects of austerity will not be distributed evenly. Obama will now be able to state that spending cuts have matched the pain of lapsed tax cuts. It is time for those who have benefitted from the recovery to share and build the economy.

Out on a limb.

December 13, 2011

OK, I am going out a limb and predict Obama will win a second term. The question is then,  “what will he do in a second term”,  assuming approximately  the same Congressional split ( a little more Democratic House and a little more Republican Senate). Also assuming the economy has improved just enough to get him back in. Will the GOP just stall and obstruct knowing he’s now a lame duck? Will Harry Reid then take the gloves off, go nuclear, and let a majority move legislation and nominations in the Senate?  Will Obama hold steady (Rope a Dope) for more two years and hope an even better economy and demographics will give him a “mandate” in 2014? Will the ChiComms put a Technocrat in power to satisfy domestic demand for the benefits of the consumer society to take the internal pressure off?  Will there be a worldwide movement to prize the people over the bond market? Will the moneyed interest accept sharing the benefits of technology with displaced workers?  I don’t recall there being a mention of the unemployed on Star Trek, despite replicators and warp drives. While many of my generation wax nostalgic for the 1950’s, I can’t wait for the 2050’s and beyond.


Currently Reading: Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome by Anthony Everitt, Jazz  a History of American Music by Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns.

The Story

August 8, 2011

On a recent weekend I flipped the channel by one of my old favorites, CSPAN-2, or BookTV as it is known  on the weekends. I have drifted away from the channel over the last year or so as it devolved into a right-wing corporate mouthpiece, kinda like Faux, but without commercials or the blondes. Now it is mostly a roosting place for the conservative think-tanks (Heritage Foundation, Manhattan Institute, Hudson Institute, Hoover Institute, AEI, etc.) to pimp their corporate-funded propaganda. I did linger long enough to hear the speaker relate the story of a teenage girl who had gotten pregnant by her boyfriend. Heeding her family and friends advice she went to the clinic. There she was accosted by the self-assured anti-choice zealot intent upon making her change her mind. The teenager went in but had a change of heart and left. The speaker crowed, “End of story.” Now the point of the speaker was for the right-wing leaders to switch from a statistical arguments to  narrative arguments in order to make a deeper connection with the targeted audience. There was an air of envy that the creative types in the past tended to promote a liberal narrative in the arts and on to the mass media. I would posit that the corporate masters long ago learned that creativity can be bought and has gladly served the interests of the powerful to mislead the public. But my central point is that while the right-wing is glad to see a simplistic world of black and white, good and evil, and right vs. wrong, the messy details of reality are to be ignored. In the story of the pregnant girl who will pay the medical costs of carrying the fetus to term and for delivery? What if there are complications? More messy. Who will pay for the infant’s living costs? Who will provide daycare, transportation and education expenses so the girl will be able to gain employment and support her family? More messy. Will the tax exempt religious institutions provide adequate care for those millions?  They didn’t do it before FDR. Do the ends justify the means? Accosting women about a personal matter in the public sphere with screaming condemnation would seem to violate the liberty and the right to be left alone the right-wing propagandists espouse. Maybe they would approve if she resorted to a second amendment solution to being attacked. Just more messy details that spoil “the story”.


currently reading The Years of Talking Dangerously by Geoffrey Nunberg, Jazz a history of American Music by Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns, and Justice Brennan Liberal Champion by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel.