Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Honest Graft

Ok folks it seems the terms of the game have been set. The republicans left in congress don’t really have too many options left to them as they see things. And the way they see things is purely through the prism of power. Now, considering that they are politicians one shouldn’t begrudge them that perspective since they can’t accomplish anything unless they have power, so in their superficial little mythical republican worlds there’s no reason to support anything at all when it comes to measures proposed by their opposition in the Democrat party.

And by the way, I think I’m gonna start adopting that would-be slanderous usage in much the same way that a gathering mocking movement has begun which sees people adopting Hussein as a universal middle name. Part of the GOP strategy involves taking distinctive labels and using them as slurs against the folks they symbolize; hence “Hussein” as in Barack HUSSEIN Obama, calling the Democratic party the “Democrat” party (probably because it sounds somewhat spittle-like and almost crap), and of course, “liberal”, as if it was a straight-up curse or in the same league as “convicted infant pedophile”.

Today my friend Barry completed the first step in getting his economic stimulus bill in place by passing the House. Not a single republican voted in favor of it. They can take no credit nor receive any of the blame for its success or failure. It’s a mighty gamble considering the stakes. If this thing works even a little bit they can pretty much kiss their jobs (and maybe their party) goodbye because you can bet that any cash that might have flowed their way by participating in the stimulus is more likely to go elsewhere first. The price of purity in principles is going to cost them their jobs just as their constituents’ livelihoods are similarly threatened. And the constituents are to blame just as much as the representatives themselves. They voted ‘em in and clearly didn’t get the message of cooperation out to ‘em while they had the chance. We’re all taking our medicine for the past eight years and some will have to take a stronger dose down the line.

Let’s not be coy about this money business. One man’s pork is another man’s bacon and my friend Barry is trying to pull our collective bacon out of the fire. The business of government is effectively to move money around. When you like where it goes it’s stimulus; when you don’t, it’s pork. When you like the reasoning behind why it gets spent, it’s progressive, when you don’t, it’s socialist. All labels and all marketing and for most of the past near 30 years in power it’s really all the republicans have had. Since Reagan they have succeeded in marketing a series of slogans, slurs, and myths which have made a mockery of the unseemly but necessary business of governing. They have won election after election saying government is the problem and then proving it with utterly ineffective governing. In the process, especially in the past eight years, a small cadre of insiders has stolen almost everything of value in the country and shipped it overseas leaving behind promises of payback that can never be met, all the while telling the rest of us to borrow from them to buy stuff we didn’t used to need, and work harder for them and their profit margin.

If this is starting to sound like class warfare, another phrase they trot out anytime anyone actually analyzes where all the money went, that’s because it has been for all this time. But it’s not warfare against the rich guys, it has been warfare by the rich guys against everyone else who still had stuff they wanted. The republicans became a crowd of Veruca Salts. However much they had, they wanted more, and conned anyone not in their club to pay them to take it. And sorry religious righties, they conned you most of all because they made you think you were part of their club and doing God’s work the whole time. But only your rich reverends are part of the club. You, my Godly friends, are what you have always been, the sheep. And if it hasn’t yet happened, you will soon find that they slaughtered you long ago.

For 30 years everything they said was fake. And when the knock comes on your door and all that you have is taken away, then you may realize too late that this was the case. Or maybe you will self-flagellate yourself for not trying harder, doing better, making better choices. Or maybe you will blame a welfare queen. Who did you vote for?

Look, Democrats are not angels either. They are politicians and I don’t expect or want angelic behavior from a politician. They are humans with all of the usual human frailties only pumped up steroidally by enormous authority, excessive egos, a measure of self-righteousness, and honestly, only a limited ability to know everyone and everything among which to choose to dole out the largesse. But I do expect them to have a sense of proportion and degree. Unfortunately, I expect that out of near a trillion dollars, there will be amounts of fraud and waste that have never been seen before. But there will be much more good to come out of it all. Don’t let the inevitable bad news drown out the good. The media need to be kept somewhat honest too. We must be wary of oversensationalized bad news as compared to what will be much more and therefore mundane good news.

There is a distinction to keep in mind here between honest graft and dishonest graft. Honest graft means that friends of the local representative or senator may get the best shot at the contract for building the new water system for the county. They end up making a lot of money, probably with some delays and cost over runs but when it gets done, the water flows better, is cleaner, and cheaper. That’s good graft. The kind of graft the republicans have done for the past eight years involves destroying an entire country, then paying billions to Halliburton and other friends of the party to fail at rebuilding anything while American soldiers get killed acting as their bodyguards. While they managed to fully destroy Iraq, they didn’t quite complete the job here, and we finally came to our senses before the incapable republican repairmen started digging up the streets.

What we have seen the past eight years from the republicans and are now seeing as if it will continue is a “principled” determination to use the system for nothing even potentially useful if it is not all for them. So they will get nothing. No further opportunity to destroy by incompetence, just by non-involvement. Foolishness. Dereliction of duty. Maybe we need to come up with a word to use as a slur against the name of their party. Republicur? Maybe. But that would be childish and my friend Barry has asked us to leave aside childish things. He was referring in part to false and failed ideologies, specifically those held by the GOP for the past couple of generations. He is a master at the sly and elegant insult by the way. I’m glad he is my friend. And I hope to benefit from our friendship. I hope we all do.


Anonymous said...

Great stuff… I have been attempting to articulate many of these points in conversation to people for a while now. Particularly the point about the Religious Right being the most swindled group in the country when it comes to Republican cons (hey, maybe there’s the slur name you were seeking: Republicons?)

Cultural issues endeared by the religious right only come up during election season rhetoric and have almost nothing to do with governing. If the religious folks think their republican congressmen are spending their precious time on the Hill protecting the world from abortion and gay marriage then they obviously have no clue how business works in Washington. These issues practically never surface.

If the religious right knew Tom Delay was helping to green-light near-slave labor and forced abortions taking place in Saipan under the American flag, they would have stoned the Hammer to death years ago.

The Sotten Libertine said...

The only government that is bad is the government that fails to govern. Once the Bush administration recieved theor cut of the stimulus package he went AWOL on a trip down memory lane kissing the world goodbye rather than tackle the crisis he and his party allowed to fester. The undermining and destruction of our industrial base and the middle class will echo through our economy for a decade if not longer. It is Class Warfer, when the President of the United States of America says, "Some maycall you 'The Elites', I call you My Base".

Pudgy McCabe said...

For a nostalgic view of "Honest Graft," you might enjoy John Ford's film of "The Last Hurrah" (1958) if you've never seen it.

Unfortunately, that sort of thing seemed to be erected on ethnic blocs that went back to the 19th century. The contemporary combination of hyper-immigration from everywhere and media slicing and dicing seems only to lead to The War of All Against All… though maybe we can change that.