Sunday, September 28, 2008

Behold, the populists!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, the drinks have all been downed or spilled, the music has long since been quited, and the lights have been turned on just in time to capture the post-celebration men and women of the Republican party exiting stage right into a walk of the shameless.

The last week or so has been an interesting period for many a Republican. Once-hardened public defenders of deregulated free markets have been reduced to either willing participants in a great socialist giveaway or fire-breathing populists looking out for the economic interests of the common man.

As you have likely seen for yourself, the actual transformation from free market caterpillar to populist butterfly has been about as beautiful as what goes on inside a cocoon.

Take Orrin Hatch, for example. Orrin has always been a friend of the common man. Here he is protecting the everyday American tax payer from the dastardly deeds of devilish dandies:
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said he is also far from impressed with the current plan.

"I am not interested in putting present and future taxpayers' money at risk for the sake of bailing out those who have made greedy or foolish decisions," he said.
Here, here good man.

This Orrin Hatch is far, far removed from the ugly pre-transformational slug that slimed its way through the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Act of 2005. Here he is talking about his opposition to an amendment that would have capped homestead provisions on individual bankruptcy filings:
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) opposed Kohl's amendment. "The states have the right to set the homestead cap rather than the federal government." He favored the House-passed homestead provision, which, he argued, more fairly targeted bankruptcy abuse, by focusing on activity that suggests the abuse Kohl decries.
This seems simple enough, but what Mr. Hatch was really arguing against was an assault on the millionaire homestead laws in Florida and Texas (which the amendment would have killed) that allow for millionaire bankrupts to keep their mansions (up to an unlimited value). And yes, this is exactly why OJ Simpson lives in Florida.

Hatch showed no such enthusiasm to defend the residents of states with caps that opened up their modest homes to Chapter 7 filings. Note to the executives of Wall Street: move to Florida or Texas as soon as possible and pump as much money as you can into your house. Note to middle and lower America: f-off.

Of course, "states' rights" are as much about states' rights now as they were way back during the days of slavery. In the case of the newly transformed (and completely lovely) butterfly, Mr. Hatch, "states' rights" are only as valuable as their utility towards wealthy people that want to abuse the system. And no, looking away from fraud isn't a state-based experiment in the grand laboratory of democracy.

The problem Republicans are having now (as evidenced by Mr. Hatch) is that they have built up a hybrid electoral/ideological philosophy that rests on the twin pillars of cultural populism and ensuring that the most fantastically wealthy Americans get more, and more, and more money.

Functionally, since Reagan, Republicans have combined their never-to-be-completely-politically-realized cultural populism and overt upper-class handouts with the wonderful little habit of staffing federal, state, county, and municipal government with people who are either openly hostile to the premise of the office/position which they hold or horse-breeders who do a heckuva job.

The plan was never to drown government in a bathtub, but to let it fall apart with mold and neglect....while giving away as much of America's bank account as possible to those who need it the least.

What could possibly go wrong with a fool-proof plan such as this?

The cynicism of the Republican party's governing philosophy has been a sight to behold during the past 2+ decades. With an approach that is 100% geared towards behind-the-wheel tom-foolery, it's hard to imagine that at any point during their reign that things like Katrina, 2 blotched wars, a grand economic failure, and widespread government corruption could have been viewed as anything other than cold, hard inevitabilities--bankable securities, if you will. This is exactly how their system of governance works. This is exactly the type of result that is implicit in their approach to all things Uncle Sam.

There is nothing wrong with wanting conservative principles in government. However, since the Reagan Revolution, conservatives have taken their principles out of government and put them in an electoral setting that frames things as belonging to either your bedroom or the boardroom. As for the day-to-day operation of government, instead of realizing that "reduced size" (which is a joke for another post) requires greater ingenuity, effort, and thought to maintain the aspects of the beast that the American people actually like, want, or require, Republicans have filled the sinking ship with a crew full of boobs who do little more than hand public money and assets away to private interests (or, when it comes to things like risk and massive financial losses, vice versa). It's cynicism at its very finest and now that the fun looks to be over for the vast, vast, vast majority of Americans, the people who willingly and/or recklessly rammed the damn thing into the iceberg are trying to convince the people on board that they should be in charge of the rescue attempt.

No thank you.

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