Posts Tagged With: tea party

THE STUPID BOWL

I was wondering how many people paid thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to buy a ticket to attend what was probably the worst super bowl game in history. I realize that most everyone is comp’d when obtaining super bowl tickets; either as a bonus or reward by companies they work for, or by other organizations they may be associated with. And for movie stars in attendance such as Michael Douglas or Alec Baldwin, shelling out a few thousand is no big deal. But among the tens of thousands in attendance, I’m sure there are some that actually bought tickets they could ill afford; only to watch Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos humiliate themselves beyond credulity. The irony of watching Manning, who was awarded the National Football League’s MVP trophy the day before the game, along with his Denver teammates, so thoroughly embarrass themselves before a world-wide audience of billions, was certainly not lost on most football fans. You knew the game was going south in a hurry for Denver when 12 seconds after kick-off they incurred a safety, an occurrence that rarely happens in any football game. In any event, I feel that the several hours out of my life that I spent watching the game on TV will be time that I, unfortunately, will never be able to recoup.

I did notice that, in all the pre-game festivities, there was suddenly a political discussion injected into all the forced giddiness. It seemed so out-of-place, especially to all those multitudes that were trying so hard to convince themselves about what a swell time they were having during all the pre-game hoopla. But there it suddenly was, an interview that Bill O’Reilly from Fox News was having with President Obama. While the interview was contentious, a certain decorum was maintained. Since Fox News is certainly the biggest Obama basher and vilifier on TV, the interview primarily consisted of O’Reilly attacking the Obama Administration for all its supposed screw-ups and misdeeds; and Obama defending himself with the usual politician’s doublespeak and vagueness. One of O’Reilly’s main contentions was that Obama has been a divisive president who has failed to  accommodate Republicans in trying to push through major legislation. Obama didn’t defend himself all that well against this accusation so I thought I would do it for him. Here’s what he should have said in that interview.

Soon after Obama was elected President in 2008, but weeks before he was sworn into office, Rush Limbaugh, who claims a listenership in the millions, bellowed forth on his radio program that: “I WANT HIM TO FAIL.” I’m sure Rush was merely expressing the sentiments held by his fellow hard-core, right-wing lunatics.

Right after Obama took office, while he was still adjusting his chair behind his desk in the Oval Office for its comfort level, Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate Republicans, publicly stated that the GOP’s number one priority was to defeat Barack Obama for re-election in 2012. Not to work for the American people who were facing the most serious economic crises this country had seen since the Great Depression, but to defeat Barack Obama’s re-election bid. Not to help the millions of workers that were suddenly thrown out of their jobs, or to assist the millions of home-owners whose mortgages went under-water, or who were having their homes foreclosed by the banks. Oh no, this was just incidental stuff. Defeating Obama the next time around was far more important. Of course, as we all know, that didn’t quite work out so well.

Shortly after finding his way to the Oval Office, President Obama invited Republican leaders to the White House and laid out his agenda for them. He told them that they could join with him in trying to resolve the dismal economic conditions that he had inherited, or they could become the party of Rush Limbaugh and oppose just about every one of his key initiatives. Sadly, as we know, the GOP chose the latter, and continues to do so to this day.

Again, right after Obama took office in 2009, the Tea Party movement was formed to oppose every single Obama initiative. If he was for it, they were against it. It was comprised primarily of extreme right-wing anarchists, racists, or those that were delusional enough to believe that Government spending could be slashed back to the levels that existed when Calvin Coolidge was president. (Read my piece on “Returning To The Days Of Silent Cal” for further info.) The Tea Party became a potent enough force of obstructionism, however, to give Republicans control of the House; but its mind-numbing political blindness did cost the GOP several Senate seats. Now the GOP is rather fractured in trying to appease Tea Party extremists while also trying to appear as a rational political entity. An oxymoron if there ever was one.

As a result of such crude and obvious Obama hatred and obstructionism, the President has understandably shied away from trying to engage Republicans in any form of compromise or togetherness on major issues. This has naturally led to a divided Government of gridlock, hyper-partisanship, dysfunction, and polarization. In short, a situation where nothing meaningful can be accomplished. Aren’t you happy to be living in such joyous times? Are we having fun yet?

Not that I’m saying that Obama has been any great shakes as President. He pretty well screwed up the health-care initiative, his foreign policy is beyond weakness, the economy is still limping along, and the employment picture, while improving, is still in the doldrums. If you want legitimate criticism, those are the areas that should be up for discussion. But its more fun for the GOP and Tea Party to engage in mindless Obama bashing and demonization.

One last item about the Super Bowl. We all saw former quarterback great Joe Namath flub something as simple as the coin toss. There’s a fascinating story about Broadway Joe as he was known in his heyday, and perhaps, next time around I’ll write about him.

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DIVIDING LINES

“We have met the enemy and he is us,” said Pogo, a cartoon critter located, with his pals, in the Okefenokee swamps in Louisiana. While this quote appeared in Walt Kelly’s cartoon strip during the 1970s, it was never more true than in today’s on-going political and social events. The country has never been more divided in the nearly 150 years since the Civil War ended. As a result, consequences adversely affecting our economy and and society as a whole are multiplying on a daily basis due to our highly polarized and dysfunctional government. And this polarized government merely reflects the deep divisions and fault lines that have developed among the citizenry of this country. Unless some leadership rises to the forefront that has a uniting ability to bring us together, we are becoming the divided states of America.

Let’s take a gander at some of these fault lines. Red states, those that reliably and consistently vote Republican, exist throughout the entire south, except, perhaps, for Northern Virginia and Florida. Red states also exist in parts of the mid-west and west, such as Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Montana. Blue states, those that more often vote Democratic, are situated primarily in the northeast, and west coast, along with several in the mid-west such as  Ohio and Illinois. The problem is that there is a world of difference between the political, social and religious views of majorities in the Red and Blue states. Red state majorities are becoming more religiously fundamentalist, and politically right-wing in their views of American society. The tea party’s primary political clout comes mostly from southern Red states. Their extremism is made obvious in issues that were once thought to be settled policy, but are now up for grabs. For example, a woman’s right to obtain birth control pills, an issue thought to be firmly established by the early 1960s, suddenly became a big deal in the 2012 election. Also, Red states have been establishing more and more stringent abortion rules, to the point where it’s getting almost impossible for women in Mississippi or Texas or other Red states to obtain legal abortion services. The quest to overturn Roe V. Wade is a driving force among and Red state partisans.

Red states are also circumventing the Voting Rights Act of 1964 by enacting new barriers for the poor and minorities to cast their ballots. Knowing that these groups usually vote Democratic, Red states are now requiring that potential voters obtain photo IDs before being registered. Since many poor can’t afford cars, and thus don’t have a driver’s license, (the only photo ID I have in my wallet) the effort to cast one’s vote can become exceedingly difficult. But, a primary tactic, if you belong to the tea party, in keeping the “riff-raff” out of the voting booth, and assuring that Red states remain solidly red. The culture wars are also a casualty of the Red state-Blue state divide. While many, if not most Blue states have legalized gay marriage, almost all Red states are fighting gay rights and marriage, tooth-and-nail. In Red state country, homosexuality is still among the deepest of sins and an abomination. This past summer, the CEO of Chick-Fil-A, a fried chicken chain located mostly in the south and mid-west, likened approval of gay rights to punching God in the face. If we don’t change our ways, he warned, God will wreck his vengeance on this country. To show solidarity with that kind of thinking, this past summer, hundreds, if not thousands, of like-minded customers, lined up for hours in front of Chick-Fil-A outlets to gobble down some greasy fried chicken.

The worsening of the political, social, religious, and cultural chasms afflicting our country came to a boiling point in the latest government shutdown we all experienced. Led by Red state tea-partiers in the Senate, and, especially, in the House, Republicans were quite willing to have the government cease functioning unless the President agreed to defund his signature health care legislation. This political suicide mission was led by Senator Ted Cruz, the recently elected tea-party favorite from, of course, Texas. The son of Rafael Cruz, who fought with Fidel Castro to overthrow the Batista regime in Cuba; but who, subsequently fell out of favor with Castro and fled to the U.S. To atone for supporting Castro in the first place, Rafael established a large fundamentalist, evangelical church in Texas which he runs to this day. He also imbued son Ted with a deep hatred of secular, all-powerful government, to the point where Senator Ted equates the Obama administration to the regime run by Castro in Cuba. Thus, Senator Cruz’s kamikaze mission to defund and destroy Obamacare.

Of course, this tea party effort has been greatly abetted by unbelievable Democratic ineptitude. An overly clumsy piece of legislation to begin with, but with 3 years to prepare, the rollout of Obamacare on-line has been a mind-bogling nightmare. Administration sloppiness in implementing this Act is, in effect, the Democrats doing the Republicans dirty work for them. Perhaps the Democrats will finally get their act together, and create a reasonable, glitch-free on-line site, where, in the near future, people that are uninsured, can actually obtain reasonably priced health insurance. Don’t hold your breath, however.

Of course, tea-party Republicans, (most are now, especially in the House) will keep coming like the charge of the light brigade, that I wrote about previously, to destroy Obamacare and the rest of the President’s political agenda. Even if it’s a similar suicide mission. The agreement to re-open the government has an expiration date come January, when Washington, once again gets to put its fiscal follies on stage. Meanwhile the political, social, religious, and cultural values dividing this country, grow deeper and more entrenched. Nothing good can ever come of that.

 

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THE DIEHARDS

In 1854, British poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote his classic poem, “The Charge of The Light Brigade,” which was based on actual events that occurred during the Crimean War (1854-1856.) The war united Britain, France and Turkey in a very bloody confrontation with Russian expansionist goals in Europe. As you may well know, the history of Europe is replete with centuries of constant warfare. There were often shifting alliances among countries fighting each other. For example, Britain and France engaged in numerous bloody wars over many centuries. But in the Crimean War, Britain and France were united, along with Turkey, in battling Russia. Lord Tennyson’s poem covers a specific event that resulted from a General’s incredibly incompetent and blundering orders to have a British light brigade (which was comprised of about 600 calvary men) charge Russian fortifications over an unprotected, flat terrain.

There was no way this mission could have succeeded and every one of the 637 in the light brigade knew they were being sent on a suicide mission. Yet they were bound by their honor to obey orders. As Tennyson wrote: “Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death, Rode the six hundred.” Other famous lines from the poem are: “Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die.” Needless to say, the men in the light brigade were slaughtered like cattle, an obvious outcome from the beginning. But representative of a diehard mentality that will bear any price, no matter how hopeless the outcome, in order to achieve its goals. Which brings us to the Government shutdown we all just endured for a couple of weeks. It was the same diehard tea party mentality, that the only way they would allow the Government to stay open and function, was to defund Obamacare. A political suicide mission that failed to accomplish its goal and whose only achievement was giving about 800 thousand federal employees a free, two-week paid vacation. And since the Government was only allowed to re-open on a temporary basis, we get to experience this all over again in January.

So I began wondering who exactly are these tea-party diehards and extremists, that now seem to control most of the Republican Party, especially in the House of Representatives. From what I’ve gleaned, the common thread that runs through tea-party mentality is a virulent hatred of Government. Nothing delights them more than actually seeing the Government being closed for business. So I’ve put together a list of common denominators that one is likely to possess to be in the tea-party movement. Sort like that comedy routine some years back about being a redneck. For example, you know you’re a redneck if you pee against the same tree trunk that your dog does, when out for a walk. So here goes in identification of who is in the tea-party.

You’re likely to be a tea-partier if you’re a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian. Although the New Testament focuses heavily on helping the poor and the sick, evangelicals go bonkers at thought of the Federal Government providing such assistance. I believe this goes back to when the Government sanctioned stuff like legalized abortion, widespread availability of birth-control, gay rights and marriage, removal of religion from public schools, availability of pornography, etc. Nothing good could ever come from any Government that allows such satanic occurrences. So in the evangelical mindset, the Government is the devil’s playground, bent on destroying organized religion. The Government is to be fought tooth and nail in order to preserve their religious freedoms and beliefs.

You’re likely to be a tea-partier if you believe that the poor, the sick and the elderly that receive Government assistance are nothing but slackers. They’re either lazy, indolent, dumb, or inept, or a combination of all of these. They’re the 47% that receive Government handouts, that Mitt Romney talked about when he thought all the cameras had been shut off. I wonder if he still ascribes his election loss to those “on the dole” as they used to say. In these tea-party minds, the income taxes they pay are all going into the pockets of those too lazy to work. Their taxes are never spent on the military or counter-intelligence efforts, but go strictly to those with their hands out. Therefore, the tea-partier hates the Government in general and the IRS in particular, and bitterly resents forking over the tax money he’s forced to pay.

You’re likely a tea-partier if you’re paranoia has reached through the stratosphere, and you feel the Government is out to destroy your life or kill you altogether. Or perhaps throw you into one of those large concentration camps the Government is building somewhere in Indiana to house political dissidents. You know the Government is reading all your emails and tweets, so if you erred in emailing your recipe to Grandma for chicken-pot-pie your life is as good as over. And where does all this paranoia come from? Try listening to the Rush Limbaughs or Glen Becks of so-called “talk radio.” They claim to have millions of listeners all tuning in for their daily dose of paranoia or Barack Obama vitriol. The same is true if you watch Fox News on TV.

Your likely to be a tea-partier if believe that America should become a shrinking violet in foreign affairs instead of leader of the free world. Of course, in that regard, right-wing wackos have teamed up with left-wing looney-tuners to bring about this current state of affairs. It’s one of the reasons that the mid-east is crumbling into chaos before our very eyes. One of the reasons that a terrorist state like Iran is about to cross the finish line in building nuclear weaponry.

I could go on but I believe you get the picture. I haven’t even talked about Ted Cruz, the unofficial tea-party leader and crusader in Congress. Or his evangelical father who runs a fundamentalist church. But my endurance is waning, so I guess I’ll save all that for another posting. It’s that senior thing again.

 

 

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TEA PARTY GOVERNANCE

Four high-profile Republican senators that were elected in 2010, and who are solid tea party favorites because of their extreme right-wing political views, are already running for president in 2016. Yes, I know that’s over 3 years away, but it takes a long time to put together the organization, the large amounts of necessary cash,  and the name recognition, to make a serious bid. You just don’t run for president on a lark, if one is serious about winning. These 4 senators consist of Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah. (Of the 4, Mike Lee is probably the longest of long-shots.) The 4 of them are putting together campaign organizations, appearing with increasing frequency on Fox News and other far right radio and TV outlets, and increasingly undertaking campaign trips to early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.

Rand Paul is, of course, the son of Ron Paul, a long-time Libertarian congressman from Texas, who recently retired. Ron Paul ran for president in Republican primaries in at least the last 3-4 presidential races. His platform was essentially to cut Government spending to the bone, and bring home all U.S. troops stationed  overseas. He would have also sharply curtailed intelligence operations such as the latest kerfuffle going on about the NSA eavesdropping operations. I guess his theory was that those meanies overseas that we call terrorists, are really just swell guys at heart. If we would just withdraw from all foreign operations, bring all U.S. troops home, and return to a policy of isolationism, (that worked so well prior to WWII and the bombing of Pearl Harbor), those mis-understood ruffians would be more than happy to leave us alone.  Although from Texas, Ron Paul had his largest number of supporters here in Nevada. People here felt that if he slashed income taxes as he promised, it would free up that much more money to throw away in the slot machines or at the craps tables.

In any event, son Rand Paul has taken over his father’s political inheritance by advocating the same far-right policies. A short time back, he launched a 13 hour filibuster on the Senate floor, because he felt that something President Obama said indicated that the President had the right to launch a drone strike on a domestic target. But I can see his point. Nothing will get the day off to a worse start than having a drone come crashing into the cafe where you’re having your morning coffee and reading the newspaper. The 13 hour filibuster and other similar stunts have, nevertheless, raised Rand Paul’s profile and have given him gobs of free publicity and name recognition.

Not to be outdone, Marco Rubio is slogging ahead to become the GOP’s standard bearer in 2016. He was instrumental in getting the Senate to pass a cockamamie immigration bill, that would theoretically create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But the bill contains so many looney-tunes features that it turned out to be a really bad joke. It would mandate that a cement wall, about 1500 miles long, about a hundred feet tall, and 20 feet deep, ( you wouldn’t want those illegals to tunnel their way in), with electrified barbed wire on top, be built along the U.S.-Mexican border.  Plus, there  would be all kinds of motion detectors, infra-red cameras, and other devices along the wall. Plus, border-control agents would be posted about 50 apart. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but you get the picture. But as bad as this bill is, it’s still too moderate for the Republican-controlled House. Republican representatives have already stated that no legislation that gives undocumented people legal status, will pass the House.

The third member of the four horsemen of the government apocalypse, Ted Cruz, maybe the biggest tea-party favorite of all. He makes Marco Rubio seem moderate. He failed to support Rubio’s immigration bill, although Cruz, himself, is Hispanic. He calls for the abolition of the Federal Reserve banking system, a favorite plank in Ron Paul’s libertarian agenda. He too would slash Government spending to the levels that existed in Calvin Coolidge’s time, as well as create tax cuts for the rich. In any event, I thought it might be of some fun to picture what life in the U.S. might look like should one of these senators become president, and  both houses of congress come under republican control.

Let’s start with Social Security and Medicare. Where in the Constitution does it say that the Government is responsible for providing for senior’s pensions or medical needs. If you’re going to start slashing public spending, you have start with these 2 major budgetary sinkholes. Okay, we will fund those that are already in those two programs, but only on the condition that they don’t live too long thereafter. I mean, everybody knows that those pain-in-the-ass seniors are nothing but a drain on society. Not working and just taking handouts from us productive working-class types. Maybe we will even let those within 5-10 years of SS and Medicare eligibility get into those programs, but again they have to promise to die soon after that. Everyone else is on their own. Create your own savings programs to take care of your own retirement needs and medical treatments. Try not to invest your savings in some fly-by-night stock or other hair brained savings scheme, even though we know most of you will ignore that advice and do just the opposite. Next, we save a bundle by bringing all our overseas troops home, and slashing the Defense budget. As well as eliminating all those unconstitutional counter-intelligence snooping programs. After all, what’s more important- human lives or the purity of the Constitution.

Of course not all Tea Party related programs will be about slashing government spending. Some programs will actually get pumped up. Such as creating the anti-abortion police to make sure that some poor, unfortunate woman isn’t doing away with her baby.  Or hiring thousands more border security guards to make sure that not even one more illegal Mexican is allowed to slip through and contaminate our society. The sky’s the limit when it comes to funding fun-stuff like that.

So this is what we have to look forward to in our short-term future. I can hardly wait for 2016 to come rolling in, when the Republican/Tea Party types take over the reigns of government.

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LIVING OSTENTATIOUSLY

The wife and I went to see “The Great Gatsby” over this past weekend. This is about the fourth iteration Hollywood has produced of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel. Overall, I would rate the movie, maybe a B-. There was lots of glitter and glitz, as the movie tried to capture the flamboyance of the 1920s. Lots of  ostentation, great costuming and hair styling, and great ornate design work in the mansions that housed the over-the-top partying that occurred among the rich and famous of the 1920s. But the movie came up short on substance. Indeed, it seemed to be glorifying the very flamboyant life-style that Scott Fitzgerald was condemning in his novel. Which was the phoniness, boredom, cynicism, and lack of purpose that existed among the upper crust at that time. And likely still does to this day.

The story takes place in one of the great mansions built by one of the ultra rich, (a rather mysterious fellow named Jay Gatsby) in the Hamptons on Long Island. One must have millions piled on top of millions just pay the property taxes levied on one of these properties; and today the Hamptons are still considered one of the top playgrounds of the rich and famous. Back in the 1920s, the rich would throw huge, lavish parties in these mansions to distract themselves from the lack of meaning in their lives. Daisy, who is Gatsby’s love interest, at the outset admits she’s bored and cynical about everything in life. So what better distraction than to throw huge, lavish parties, with bootleg booze flowing like the River Ganges, lots of ear-splitting music, and continually doing the Charleston to wile away the blues. This type of superficiality  and shallowness is the essence of Fitzgerald’s condemnation. New money often made in the in the booming stock market or through selling bootleg liquor, vied with old money ( you know, guys like the Rockefellers, Morgans and Carnegies, etc.) to see who could garner the most attention and publicity for living ostentatiously. Today it’s more the style to keep this type of ostentation under wraps. Too many bad guys around that would like to get in on the action.

Scott Fitzgerald’s life is an interesting story in itself. Like many artists, he enjoyed only the very modest of successes during his short lifetime. Being a heavy drinker with health problems, he died of a heart attack at the tender age of 40. “Gatsby’s” success as a great American novel wouldn’t be realized until well after he was gone. In that, he joined a large list of artists, writers and composers who often died penniless, with the greatness of their works not recognized until well after their deaths. Van Gogh is a prime example. In any event, Fitzgerald’s life was often overshadowed by his flamboyant wife Zelda. She came from Southern money, and gave drinking and partying a whole new dimension. The Fitzgeralds were part of the American expatriate group of artists living in Paris during the 1920s. These included Hemingway, of course, as well as Gertrude Stein, Henry Miller, Salvatore Dali, and several others. Besides trying to become famous for their works, the expatriates were known for their heavy drinking and partying. Not as lavish as those parties in the Hamptons, but quite legendary in their own right. And chief among the heavy drinkers was Zelda Fitzgerald . She and Scott had a tempestuous marriage and eventually separated. Zelda was finally diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and spent many years in and out of mental institutions. She also died at a fairly young age, in her 50s, I believe. If you’re interested in capturing the flavor of what life was like among the expatriates, it’s shown in a movie that came out several years ago- Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.”  A really, really good movie compared to this current version of “Gatsby.”

Compared to life today, the 1920s were almost an era of serenity. It was after the conclusion of WWI and America quickly dis-armed and went back to being an isolationist nation. After all, being surrounded by two large oceans would preclude us from getting into any further foreign entanglements, or so the thinking went. About the biggest worry on people’s minds was wether Babe Ruth would break the home run record by hitting 60 homers in one season, which he did in 1927. Both business and the stock market were booming. Prohibition was in effect which made obtaining and drinking bootleg liquor that much more fun. The roadways began to proliferate with that new-fangled invention, the automobile, which was made famous by Henry Ford’s Model T. There was lots of cash to be made in the stock market since everyone knew that stocks could only go one way, and that was up, right? The Government did virtually nothing, but who cared? Everyone was doing so well. Calvin Coolidge was President for 6 years in that decade, and actually cut the Government budget by  the time he left office. ( I wrote a previous piece about Silent Cal’s tenure as President if you’re interested in more detail.)

And then one day, this great American dream of peace and prosperity evaporated like the morning mist. The stock market crashed in 1929, and people’s lives, by the tens of millions, were virtually destroyed, almost overnight. People were jumping out of buildings to their death, as mind-numbing poverty slowly oozed over the nation, and covered the landscape. They stopped doing the Charleston in the Hamptons. Even in foreign affairs America’s dreams of being an isolationist nation began to disintegrate, as the twin evils of Hitler’s Nazism in Europe, and Japan’s militarism in the Pacific, marched ahead with unstoppable relentlessness.

Today there are those that would like to to return American society and Government back to those simpler days of the 1920s. When one could make a fast buck in the stock market and live flamboyantly with great ostentation. Who wouldn’t want that. But it’s never going to happen. The Tea Party movement which made such a big splash in 2010 has delusional dreams that somehow the clock can be set backwards. But life now has become so much more complex and complicated, that going back to the days of Silent Cal is a monumental pipe dream. The war against terrorism is an example of today’s complexities. Besides we all know how well life turned out the way it was lived in the 1920s.

 

 

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RETURNING TO THE DAYS OF SILENT CAL

With the selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has come full-circle. In the 1990s, Romney, posing as a liberal, ran for the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy in Mass.,  but lost. In the early 2000s he ran as a moderate for the governorship of Mass., and this time he won. His reign as Governor was noted by the success he had in pushing for, and passing a universal health-care law that was the predecessor of Obama-care. To this day, Mass. is the only state in the union that has a rate of 99% health care coverage for its citizens. However, when he decided to run for President, Romney determined that the only way to secure the Republican nomination was to swing over to being a far-right wing conservative. It didn’t work in 2008, when he lost the nomination to John McCain, but it did work this year. Now in selecting Paul Ryan as his Veep, he has truly become what he described himself as-a “severe conservative.”

Paul Ryan is a very earnest, far-right GOP Congressman from a district in Wisconsin that has voted Democratic in presidential elections. This tea-party favorite has demonstrated his political chops by winning 6 straight elections in a normally Democratic district. He is a darling of the tea-party because he believes in sharply cutting government spending, especially on programs for the poor, sick and elderly. Most of his cuts would be in stuff like food-stamps, student-loans, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. You get the picture. Left intact would be tax-cuts for the rich, which the tea-party believes would further enhance “trickle-down” economic theories, whereby the rich, if sufficiently placated, will trickle down enough resources to satisfy the lower classes. What’s lesser known about Ryan is that he has a strong right-wing agenda on social issues as well. As an example, he co-sponsored a bill in Congress that would outlaw all abortions, including those in cases of rape or incest, or to save the mother’s life.

There is an excellent chance that the Romney/Ryan ticket will win in November, and that the Republicans will take control of Congress as well. This would be the tea-party’s dream come true, to roll back much, if not all, of the social welfare and fiscal regulatory legislation and progress of the last 80 years. So let’s see what that world would look-like, by going back into the not-too-distant past. The year is 1920, and after 8 year of Democratic rule under Woodrow Wilson, the Republican ticket of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge wins the presidency. Harding is soon entangled in various corruption scandals, and dies in 1922 under mysterious circumstances. Coolidge, a taciturn New-Englander, becomes President and vows a program of Government fiscal austerity. Coolidge doesn’t possess the usual politician’s propensity for speechifying, and is thus referred to as Silent Cal, although he did have the distinction of being the first president to give a speech on that new-fangled, high-tech contraption known as radio. Coolidge also had the distinction of overseeing the only presidential administration that spent less money when it ended than when it began. At that time the federal government didn’t do much of anything. It had puny military resources, especially compared to today’s military, a few ambassadorships in some foreign countries, an Attorney-General (because there were always crooks in the government since George Washington’s time), and a Department of Agriculture to help out farmers in need, especially during droughts or floods. Outside of that the government did little of anything.

That period was also known as the roaring ’20s, because of a booming economy, that was fueled by rampant speculation on Wall Street. Stock speculators, fast-buck artists, and other scammers were running wild, since there was no Securities and Exchange Commission to reign in their activities. Kind of like the real-estate scammers in the early 2000s. The mantra was that stocks could only go one-way and that was up. It hardly mattered what stock one bought since the market was only going on an upward trajectory. Sound familiar, in regard to real estate in this century? Big money could be made in the stock market because everyone knew stocks could only go up. Until one day they didn’t. Instead they came crashing down. With a vengeance. It was October 1929, and almost overnight, millions of people saw their wealth and life savings melt away. Companies started going out-of-business, and millions suddenly became unemployed. The Great Depression had started. It was not a rarity to see people ending their lives by jumping out-of sky-scrappers as all the money they thought they owned went up in smoke.

Coolidge decided in 1928, when times were still good, not to run for re-election. He had served 6 years as President, and decided that another 4 years, for a total of 10 years, would indeed be cruel and unusual punishment supposedly banned by the 8th Amendment to the Constitution. In that, he certainly had a valid point. So in 1928 the presidency went to Coolidge’s VP, Herbert Hoover. When the Depression started to get a stranglehold on the economy in 1930, Hoover did attempt some New Deal type legislation, but it was too-little, too-late. Of course, as we all know, Hoover was swept out of office in a landslide defeat to Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, and the New Deal began in earnest. While the Depression was an economic catastrophe for millions, it also represented the dissolution of the American dream for a huge chunk of the populace. That dream was based on the assumption that if one went to college and learned a profession, or developed blue-collar construction skills and worked hard, one could lead a comfortable middle-class family life, often in their own private homes. Now all that was gone. Men sat on park benches, penniless, and gazed into space, wondering what had happened.

That is, until the New Deal started to take hold, and people began to finally believe that they had a Government that was on their side. We all know how the tale then unfolded. Roosevelt and the Democrats gave the nation Social Security, the Civilian Conservation Corps which put hundreds of thousands of people back to work, the right to form unions and strike if necessary, created the Securities and Exchange Commission, and many, many more pieces of progressive legislation. Succeeding administrations have built on that record, such as Democrat Lyndon Johnson getting both Medicare and Medicaid passed, and Republicans Richard Nixon who defined a role for the federal government in health, education and welfare, and even George W. Bush who created the Medicare drug benefit.

Now the Romney/Ryan ticket threatens to undo most, if not all, of those accomplishments if elected. If we let them as we likely will. After all, they’re severe conservatives, and the tea partiers, and the Rush Limbaugh types, are already salivating over the prospects of cutting government to the bone. Then we can go back to the days when Silent Cal was President and the government did virtually nothing. After all, we all saw how well that turned out.

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