Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What Is So Enraging About Paying Our Bills?

I can't help it. I am just furious about all the rage that is out there.

All my Republican friends are pissing me off with their anger over how Obama's a socialist and how he wants to take away their freedoms. But what really gets me worked up is all this rage over taxes. Now they're going to teabagging parties and holding rallies on Fox News because they are fit to be tied over how they're being taxed to death.

Maybe you can help me with this. I mean what is it about the whole notion of taxes anyway?

I always thought that taxes were the way we paid our bills. In a democracy we have elected representatives who spend money on our behalf on things like defense, security, wars, bridges, roads, health care benefits--all kinds of stuff. If we don't like the way they're spending it or we think they are spending too much, then we have a chance to replace them at very frequent intervals. But in a democracy, we own the results of our elections and the decisions our elected officials make are our decisions.

Taxes are the bills we have to pay for the stuff our government buys us.

Now the fact of the matter is that for the last eight years, we have been running huge deficits because Mr. Bush and the Republicans who controlled Congress for six of those years decided not to make us pay for all the stuff they were buying for us. Because they didn't tax us enough to pay our bills, they've run up a multi-trillion dollar tab that will be paid either by our kids or by no one some time after we're gone.

If Republicans and other angry people wanted to hold protests over how unfair it is that we are not being made to act like grown-ups and pay our bills, that I could understand.

But that's not what the rage and teabagging are about. At a time when we are being taxed at the lowest rate in our lifetimes and running the biggest deficits in history, these clowns are getting apoplectic because they think taxes are too high! That would actually be funny if it wasn't so outrageous.

But it gets better--or worse.

Most of them are also outraged because there are so many people who are out of work or so poor or underemployed that they pay little or no tax at all. They think these people are "freeloaders" who have it made. Of course I've never heard anyone volunteer to trade places with any of these poor folks. They're too full of rage to even respond to the question.

So all the rage is being directed at poor people and immigrants who really don't have any money to pay the government anyway. At the same time, in addition to paying the lowest tax rates ever, those of us who DO pay taxes have apparently forgotten or refused to cough up an estimated $500 billion that we legally owe our government but simply choose not to pay.

In addition, I see and hear TV and radio ads every day that describe the Internal Revenue Service as the agents of the devil and offer to help good hardworking Americans settle their debts to the government at 5 and 10 cents on the dollar. One ad brags that they were able to get a client who had not even filed a tax return for six years and swindled the government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars off the hook for pennies on the dollar.

Where are the rage and the teabagging parties to protest those criminals? Instead of being vilified (treatment that is apparently reserved for the most unfortunate among us), the Right Wing crazies seem to feel that swindling the government and committing crimes that actually cost us a fortune are perfectly admirable behavior since we are all being taxed to death in the first place and Obama only wants to make it worse.

I have voted for and donated money to many fine Republicans over the years. I believe we desperately need a viable fiscally responsible alternative to the Democrats and the liberals. But Arlen Specter, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, and I have joined millions of thinking Americans in concluding that the Republican Party and the Right Wing have allowed themselves to become a very bad sick joke.

What was a party of responsibility and conservatism has evolved into a mob of religious fundamentalists, bigots, liars, and angry people who seem to have a need to blame everyone but themselves and the elected officials that they supported over the last eight years for the many huge problems that now confront our nation and its leaders--problems that didn't exist eight years ago but which have brought is to our knees over the last year.

Instead of taking a look in the mirror, these self-centered blowhards have blamed everyone but themselves for the colossal mistakes, lies, and fiscal irresponsibility that characterized the period they were in complete control of all federal branches of government.

Instead of figuring out where they went wrong and what to do to fix things, they have just become filled with rage. They have morphed from a responsible political party to a cult of scary and angry people. I'm not talking about all Republicans. I'm just talking about the people who have taken over leadership of the party and seem to be calling all the shots. If they continue on this path, they'll be the only ones left.

If I weren't so furious, I might help them figure out how to deal with their rage. Thankfully, none of them have asked. I might just rip their stupid heads off.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lenin Rules!

I have really been struggling lately to figure out what in the world has happened to my Republican friends who used to make so much sense and to the so-called cable news channels which have become more and more of an oxymoron. But I struggle no more.

I now realize that what appears on the surface to be self-destructive insanity is really just a posthumous victory lap being run by that great champion of the Right--Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

It was Lenin, after all, who almost 100 years ago stated what has become the mantra of the angry Right and the deluded media nearly a century later:

A lie told often enough becomes the truth

It's ironic but appropriate that at a time when Right wing leaders are comparing Obama to Mussolini, Hitler, and Marx that the GOP should get in on the historical bandwagon. And it couldn't come at a better time. With the Republican Party leaderless and falling in popularity, the Right is in desperate need of a philosophical guru with a solid resume and a recognizable name.

Actually, the first sign of the GOP's modeling of Lenin appeared during the 2000 Republican presidential primary campaign in South Carolina when "Bush's Brain" Karl Rove launched a massive phone smear campaign against John McCain during which callers told the locals that McCain had fathered a black baby. In fact, McCain and his wife had adopted a child from Bangladesh.

When caught in the lie, instead of apologizing and stopping the calls, Turd Blossom (as his boss affectionately referred to him) Rove ordered his charges to just keep smilin' and dialin' and repeating the lies with greater conviction than ever. Bush knocked McCain out of the race and thus a movement was born.

Once elected, Bush carried Lenin's formula to new levels. He assured us that Iraq was involved in 9/11 and had tried to procure nuclear fuel from Niger long after he knew that neither statement was true. He talked about Pat Tillman's heroic death at the hands of a hostile enemy for weeks after he was told that Tillman was killed by friendly fire. He assured us that Americans don't torture--even as he insisted we needed to keep doing it. He promised us that no American need worry about abuse of warrantless wiretaps--even as he claimed they were essential. It was Lenin's model--lie, and if you get caught, keep lying. No apologies, no shame, just lies.

That's a mini recap. Everyone but Dick Cheney now knows all that stuff. But it helps explain a lot.

Otherwise one might think that the clowns who now call themselves leaders of the GOP came up with this whole idea about lying and lying some more on their own. It is comforting to know they're just copying their gurus Lenin and Rove.

So when President Obama insists on not bailing out bankrupt banks or car makers without getting rid of bad management or limiting executive pay and Republicans accuse him of nationalizing American business or being a socialist--now I know they're not stupid, they're just lying.

And when they say that Obama is raising all our taxes when he's actually cutting them for all but a handful of the wealthiest Americans, I am comforted that they're not confused. They're just doing what Rove did when he assured Scott McClellan and the American people that old Turd Blossom had nothing to do with the outing of Valerie Plame.

I no longer worry about those who still believe that Obama is a secret Muslim or that he is not an American. They are just angry hateful people who lie to give their screeds a thin patina of respectability--very thin.

And when my Republican friends call for a teabagging party (I'm not even going to go there) and complain that we're being taxed to death at the very time when taxes have never been lower in our lifetimes, I don't even bother trying to straighten them out any more. Because I know they are not misinformed--they are just lying and lying and lying and lying.

Actually, most Americans know they're lying too. That's why while the Right claims that there is a revolution afoot and the common folk are mad as hell, polls continue to show that Obama's popularity is rising toward 70 percent while the popularity of Republicans is at a 30-year low. Those same polls show that three times as many of us believe the country is now on the right track as felt that way six months ago. That doesn't sound or feel much like a revolution to me.

Based on those polls and common sense, it seems that Lenin's mantra might not be working so well in an age of blogging, the Internet, Google, fact-checking, Wikopedia, and YouTube. It's really a shame. Now, after honing the art of lying and denial to a perfect science, my Right wing friends might have to look for another approach.

So much to do and so little time. No one ever said it would be fair.