Nota Bene</I>: The following column contains irony. Proceed with caution.
Democratic and Republican politicians, pundits both conservative and liberal, and voters from both parties want this columnist to believe that both sides in the fiscal cliff negotiations are participating in a difficult and nerve-wracking process of finding a suitable compromise that will avoid the dreaded denouement of: “what we have here is failure to communicate.” A nagging doubt that the Republicans are negotiating in good faith continues to plague any attempt by the World’s Laziest Journalist to handicap this struggle and when we take a look at what the Republicans have been trying to do since the day the Social Security law was signed by FDR, we come up with a bleak evaluation of the prospects for any Happy New Year celebrations in the homes of the poor and middle class this year.
If the January first deadline passes without a compromise solution the 113 Congress which will be sworn in on January 3, 2013, will be busy performing necessary preliminary Parliamentary procedures and will be very pleased to let any public dissatisfaction with the results be linked to their predecessors and President Obama.
If the January first deadline passes without a compromise, how will the American Journalism community (with Fox News as point man?) react? If Fox Television advocates a non-stop rush to hysteria as the only possible reaction to a post financial cliff crisis, will a handful of liberal radio personalities be able to stem the tide?
Haven’t the Republicans racked up a track record that indicates they might secretly want to let see President Obama take the USA over the fiscal cliff?
When St. Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President, a part of his program was to start union busting with the Air Controllers Union being the first group to suffer the consequences. Didn’t Michigan just pass a “right to work” law? Doesn’t the San Francisco radio station that carries progressive talk shows just start airing commercials from the National Right to Work (<a href =www.nrtw.org>www.nrtw.org</a>) organization?
Later in the eighties the Los Angeles Times ran one or two stories advancing not only the possibility that computers would bring time saving and unquestioned results to the task of counting election ballots but that some (publicity seeking?) science based college teachers (them again?) were making the wild baseless assertion that such an innovation in the democratic process would include an inherent risk in the form of possibilities that the final results could be subject to tampering by some unscrupulous fiends.
Such completely unrealistic prognostications were quickly dismissed as the work of demented professors who had lost touch with reality and quietly slipped into the twilight zone now known as Conspiracy Theory.
Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and when the voting counting in Florida in the Presidential election of 2000 got a tad gnarly, electronic voting machines and the laws mandating the use of that method of letting the accountants furnish the final results were conveniently written and waiting for the chance to get an “up or down” vote from previously elected Senators and Congressmen.
Liberals who don’t see how eliminating “likely” Democratic voters from the registration rolls prevents voter fraud are the same ones who don’t realize that outsourcing jobs to other countries increases the profit margin and that more profits are, by definition, the essential ingredient in the strategy for economic recovery.
The farsighted Republicans had (in a 1996 PNAC white paper) foreseen the possibility of the country facing the challenge of “another Pearl Harbor,” and quickly implemented several variations of the “double standard” concept after 9/11 occurred.
Democrats would be held to a very strict level of accountability while any Republican (it was well understood) would get an automatic exemption from confining ideology such as the precepts of war established by the lead council for America at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, which held that any invasion was a crime against peace.
Increases in the debt ceiling were automatic when George W. Bush was in the Oval Office and the cost of the military adventures in Iran and Afghanistan were exempt from concerns about the deficit. Now that President Obama is the commander-in-chief, the main concern of Republicans is deficit reduction.
Meanwhile, the Republicans when they were in the majority in Congress had initiated a policy for the filibuster rule which would put the Democrats in a straight jacket if and when the loyal opposition leadership cadre ever became obstreperous.
The Liberals who see a conspiracy hiding behind every Bush would have Patriotic red-blooded Americans believe that the rules change which helped one particular media mogul acquire more outlets than the law previously permitted was some kind of ominous “plot.” Now instead of a diverse group of Republican conservative publishers owning newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations, one fellow from “down under” does. Do they think that it makes a difference if the media is owned by one man rather than a group of like minded fellows? (These doubters probably take the concepts in Jonathan Kwitny’s book, “The Crimes of Patriots: A True tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA,” as “gospel.”) These narrow minded liberals would have everyone believe that Plato was predicting Fox’s high ratings when he said: “Everything that deceives may be said to enchant.”
The Republicans have forced the Post Office to provide pre-paid funding for employee retirement programs thus forcing that government agency to contend with almost certain bankruptcy and subsequently the need to become privatized to continue to provide their services to the public.
Can the battle pitting the Republican majority Congress against President Obama be compared to the Alamo?
In his novel “Texas,” James Michener (who is noted for the quality of the factual background for his stories) stated that when the state of Texas agreed to join the United States, it specifically had as part of the deal, an option of separating into five individual states. Wouldn’t rambunctious Republicans be more anxious to invoke that option and get ten Senators rather than succeed from the union and have none?
The beginning of the Great Depression is pinpointed as being Black Friday in October of 1929 and exuberant Republicans, who enthusiastically make the assertion that the country could have been better served by Republican leadership during the Depression, conveniently forget that the low point of the era was reached later in President Hoover’s term in office and that the recovery began with FDR’s inauguration.
During St. Ronald Reagan’s two terms in the oval office, some extremists voiced the opinion that what America needed was another Depression with the implication being that bad times would be better with a Republican in the White House.
Obviously Liberals who believes that any Republican would seriously consider the “advantages” of a Great Depression 2.0 won’t have any need to use a laxative during the duration of the fiscal cliff stare down.
Speaking of the Thirties, why doesn’t the Jon Stewart Show feature a W. C. Fields impersonator and a replica of the Charlie McCarthy dummy (now in the Smithsonian Institute) having a modern political debate? Didn’t Fields provide the Republican Party with their unofficial motto when he said: “If a thing is worth having; it’s worth cheating to get it!”?
To some cynical Liberals, the fact that the implication of austerity budgets, which demand cutting many social programs as part of coping with hard times, will be a chance for Conservatives to break out the Champaign and caviar might seem to be an oxymoron but for connoisseurs of schadenfreude this year’s Christmas celebrations will ring with rich people singing about the rich getting rich being part of God’s divine plan for humanity and the cry of “please, sir, may I have some more porridge” being mimicked throughout the one particular home (out of many, of course!) where they have gone to celebrate the holiday.
Are Republicans postulating a Santa with a Jekyll and Hyde personality? Could there be one Santa to bring joy, tax cuts, and happiness to the rich and another one who deals out tax increase and social service cuts to the middle class and poor? Do the Republicans believe in a two Santa world?
Some folks prone towards manufacturing new and improved conspiracy theories have asked us if Berkeley City Mayor Tom Bates deliberately postpones contentious items until well past mid-night when many concerned citizens have gone home. To which we respond: Not bloody well likely, mate!”
Some of Berkeley’s famous panhandlers are asserting that the new Berkeley Public Library policy of turning away visitors carrying a large back pack is part of a concerted and coordinated policy of harassing them and is a new facet of the sit-lie controversy.
After Pearl Harbor was bombed (seventy one years ago on the day this column will be posted), the Republicans quickly proposed that the newly instituted laws mandating overtime pay be revoked so that workers could not be tainted by the suspicion of being war profiteers. There were some very lucrative contracts going to come their way but in the country’s darkest hour, they still found time to be concerned about protecting their workers from the possibility of having their reputations tarnished by allegations of war profiteering. The FDR administration (which had been suspected of being pro socialist when the Social Security Act was signed into law) thought that everyone including workers should share in the bounty that WWII was sure to bestow.
The Democrats seem very reluctant to admit that the Republicans have been relentless in the defense of Veterans benefits and programs.
When we look at all these separate examples of Republican political philosophy in action together, we can not conceive of a sudden “Christmas Carol” moment that puts a “God bless us one and all” sentiment in the mouths of the Republicans who see their mission as making a goal line defense to keep the Bush tax cuts in place.
[Photo Editor’s note: Statues of newspaper owners (Rupert Murdoch?) such as this one of the publisher who founded Culver City CA (where about four decades ago we learned the fundamentals of covering city council meetings) are more likely to be erected than ones to well informed voters or Fox viewers and so we used a shot of the statue of Harry Culver in downtown Culver City, CA as this week’s column illustration.]
United States Senator Joe McCarthy is quoted online as having said: “McCarthyism is Americanism with sleeves rolled.”
The disk jockey will now (for obvious reasons) play Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five, the Beach Boys song “Heroes and Villains,” and the theme music from “Cool Hand Luke.” Now we have to go replay our VHS tape of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” because we may soon do a reassessment review for the 50th anniversary of its release in 1963. Have a “can you spare a peso for a fellow American” (from Treasure of the Sierra Madre”) type week.