Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Twilight of the GOP on the Eve of Great Depression II

I have blogged for years, much of it spent blasting the endemically crooked GOP to the best of my ability. Now --when even the GOP ponders its own imminent demise --I suspect that the sharpest critiques of gop-ism are coming from the GOP.
This generation of political leaders is confronting a similar situation, and, so far, they have failed utterly and catastrophically to project any sense of authority, to give the world any reason to believe that this country is being governed. Instead, by rejecting the rescue package on Monday, they have made the psychological climate much worse.

George W. Bush is completely out of juice, having squandered his influence with Republicans as well as Democrats. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is a smart moneyman, but an inept legislator. He was told time and time again that House Republicans would not support his bill, and his response was to get down on bended knee before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

...

Now they [the GOP] have once again confused talk radio with reality. If this economy slides, they will go down in history as the Smoot-Hawleys of the 21st century. With this vote, they’ve taken responsibility for this economy, and they will be held accountable. The short-term blows will fall on John McCain, the long-term stress on the existence of the G.O.P. as we know it.

--David Brooks, Revolt of the Nihilists, New York Times
These are the words of a party on the eve of eclipse and the Great Depression II that they will have helped bring about. Brooks misses the point, however, when it comes to 'free market principles'. The 'bailout' ought to have been rejected. It's probably the only thing the GOP has done right in years.

As for 'market principles', Brooks errs again. He still believes in them as many still believed in them on the eve of the Great Depression. He was willing to 'interfere' with the 'free market', however, when it was thought the bailout would save the fat cats' ass on Wall Street.

I wonder if Brooks' recent chagrin may be due to the fact that Brooks cannot resolve his hypocrisy, that he knows but will not admit that he has been betrayed by the 'free market' ideology. Pssst, David. There is NO 'invisible hand' but the the thinly disguised jerk off we got from the GOP leadership for as long as I've been able to read a newspaper. There were, I am sure, many like David Brooks on the eve of Great Depression I.

Brooks may be right in the sense that the GOP, as a monolith, an institution, as the primary opposition to Democrats, may go the way of T-Rex. The nation might benefit, however, if the GOP were to break up into its natural factions, one of which is correctly described as being to the right of Genghis Khan. The term 'moderate Republican' has been an oxymoron at least since the party tried to pin on Bill Clinton an act that was not even a crime. There are rumors that there were--at one time in the dimming mists of history --'liberal Republicans'! Your chances of finding one are probably less than your chances of finding a beached mermaid or a tamed Chupacabra. There was, of course, a 'libertarian' streak and under the 'leadership' of Ron Paul, it already shows signs of bolting a party that has shown little interest in them.

The upside is this: as Bush runs out of juice, as the GOP limps off to licks its wounds, some sanity might be restored to our relations with the rest of the world. An Obama Presidency must be influenced to roll back Bush's assaults upon the Constitution. In the longer term, it would be hoped that Scalia will retire. GOP dominance since 1980 has resulted in an extremist court typified by Antonin Scalia who hardly bothers to conceal his contempt for the rule of law and the Constitution. He claims to be 'too smart' for the court. That being the case, he should be 'urged' to quit and find a another job more in keeping with his talents, perhaps, 'mafioso'.

In broader terms, there may very well be a window of opportunity in which we may
  • restore the separation of powers
  • restore the supremacy of the Constitution as the source of US law
  • restore Due Process of Law, indeed, the Bill of Rights
  • restore habeas corpus
  • restore US treaty commitments --Kyoto, Geneva, the Nuremberg Principles
  • restore the principle that the 'President' is answerable directly to the people of the United States.

Obama may find himself, like FDR, in the position of having to save America from itself. As was true in Roosevelt's first term, a 'counter-revolution' may be on the agenda.
Government, under Franklin Roosevelt, got serious about regulating financial markets after the first cycle of financial bubble and economic ruin in the 1920s. Then, as now, the abuses were complex in their detail but very simple in their essence. They included the sale of complex securities packaged in deceptive and misleading ways; far too much borrowing to finance speculative investments; and gross conflicts of interest on the part of insiders who stood to profit from flim-flams. When the speculative bubble burst in 1929, sellers overwhelmed buyers, many investors were wiped out, and the system of credit contracted, choking the rest of the economy.

In the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration acted to prevent a repetition of the ruinous 1920s. Commercial banks were separated from investment banks, so that bankers could not prosper by underwriting bogus securities and foisting them on retail customers. Leverage was limited in order to rein in speculation with borrowed money. Investment banks, stock exchanges, and companies that publicly traded stocks were required to disclose more information to investors. Pyramid schemes and conflicts of interest were limited. The system worked very nicely until the 1970s -- when financial innovators devised end-runs around the regulated system, and regulators stopped keeping up with them.

--Only a Roosevelt-Scale Counterrevolution Can Prevent Great Depression II
If FDR had not restored confidence in the White House, there might very well have been a revolution in the US in the 30s. The threat of FEMA camps notwithstanding, millions of people robbed of homes, hope and jobs will find a way to speak. Enriched and compromised power would do well to learn the lessons of history.
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it.

--Georges Santayana, American Philosopher
And there is likewise a warning.
People must see clearly the futility of maintaining the fight for social goals within the framework of civil debate. When the forces of oppression come to maintain themselves in power against established law; peace is considered already broken.

--Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Guerilla Warfare


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