Monday, October 10, 2005

Republicanism in a nutshell

I seem to get Krugman in my email even though I can no longer go to the New York Times itself for it, and today's column explores the Republican indifference to, and/or incompetence in, rebuilding the Gulf Coast. In so many words Krugman says the wheels can't come off their plan, if it turns out they have no plan at all, and have no intention of doing anything other than posturing and promising. "..if we assume that Mr. Bush remains hostile to domestic spending that might threaten his tax cuts--and there's no reason to assume otherwise--foot-dragging on post-Katrina reconstruction is a natural political strategy."

So, we have one more problem with the Bush Administration. Halliburton takes the money and runs. Add that to cronyism and incompetence in the emergency itself. Actually, let's make a list. I haven't ever made a dirty laundry list of just how badly fucked up the Republican administration is.

Let's see. In no special order:

The Republicans attempted to destroy social security. Not very popular, thank God.
But, nevertheless, even now the Republicans sit on their thumbs while corporate pension plans are increasingly being ditched solely for the benefit of wealthy stockholders. The pensioners, of course, get screwed, getting a far less adequate government consolation prize instead of their promised, and worked for, pension--as long as the government funds hold out, which may not be long if corporate America keeps this up.

The Republicans passed a Byzantine and expensive drug "benefit" that, while it benefits the pharmaceutical industry, is unlikely to benefit even the few who have the energy and accounting skills to make sense of it.

The national debt is out of control--a far greater percentage of the GDP than it ought to be.

Catastrophic trade deficits.

Accelerated outsourcing of America's manufacturing, so that we now have an economy based on Walmart, which sells cheap stuff made in foreign sweatshops, and Krispy Kreme and Burger King, who sell cheap and deadly flavor-enhanced artery glue, and an enormously expensive but imploding health care system, which even before implosion gets less less than one half the bang for the buck than the next most costly health care system in the world.

An inadequate plan, or maybe no plan at all, for dealing with an outbreak of bird flu.

An inadequate plan, as we saw last winter, for protecting the public from _any_ influenza outbreak.

The terrible and immoral war in Iraq, based on arrant lies, that has killed about 2000 Americans and, as of a year ago, somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 Iraqis, plus a good may thousand Iraqis killed since then.

Torture planned and justified from the white house itself, by a man who is now the Attorney General, and (we presume) with the approval of a man whose nose does not get longer every time he lies, but whose mouth increasingly wobbles with a weird tic every time he says more than ten words, prior to his maniacal but, at the same time, astonishingly mechanical smirk.

Increasing poverty--while the rich get richer, and the vastly rich get vastly richer.

Increasing economic insecurity and decreasing health care affordability for the middle class.

Increasing frequency of bankruptcy, and, soon enough, when the housing bubble bursts, a very foreseeable explosion in foreclosures.

Punitive bankruptcy laws, intended to fuck over the poor (and soon, when the housing bubble bursts, the middle class) to further the profits of banks and credit card companies.

Those same banks encouraging people to refinance their houses and then buy SUVs and Las Vegas gambling trips with the money they have borrowed against a home equity that seems remarkably like the equity owned by stockholders in the South Sea Bubble at a time when, as Pope put it, "...corruption, like a general flood, did deluge all, and avarice creeping on, spread, like a low-born mist, and hid the sun." Kinda like now.

An increasingly oil dependent economy which flies in the face of reality itself (well, hey, reality has been superseded in this administration) even as global warming is upon us, even as peak oil is near, if not here already, with no plan _whatsoever_ for dealing for oil scarcity. (Building bridges to uninhabited islands in Alaska to jump-start the uninhabited island economy is not a plan.)

Catastrophic environmental decisions have been, and are being made by this Republican congress, and similar congresses whose purse strings have, de-facto, been controlled by right-wingers since the Reagan administration--whose ongoing financial priorities, for one example, have led to the accelerated destruction of Louisiana wetlands, and, for another example, New Orleans levees that proved to be both inadequate and defective. Meanwhile, giant highway subsidies and pork for Halliburton continue unabated.

Tax refunds for the rich. Tax protection for rich dead people. (Tiny tax-break bribes for the middle class, which have so far worked as expected, since we are not yet asked to pay them back, as we must inevitably be asked to do, with enormous interest, to pay down the national debt to a reasonable amount.)

Cronyism in important appointments, like Bush trying to, and possibly succeeding in, naming a Supreme Court justice whose expertise has hitherto been displayed in fish-camp litigation on behalf of , who else, George Bush. Like "Heckuva Job" Brown. Like Mr. Safavian, whose arrest came shortly after arranging the no-bid Gulf Coast contracts for, who else, Halliburton. Like countless nominal-job Young Republican toilers in the vinyards of ideology; their salaries and benefits, handsome ones, unlike yours and mine, paid by the taxpayer.

K Street finally after two centuries of anarchy put on a strict pay-to-play basis, enforced by Tom The Hammer Delay. Or his designated sucessor, if he follows Mr. Safavian and perhaps the Plame-leak crew, to jail. Laws for sale to the highest bidder. Not strangely, the banks and the drug companies often bid very high.

Vote fraud, which, while not a Republican innovation, has been made by them into a high-tech art form, featuring, for example, lengthy computerized rolls of disinfranchised voters who, legally, it turns out, are entitled to vote. Not to mention the most brazen and bizarre gerrymandering in American history, in my own, and Tom Delay's, state of Texas.

A higher education system that is increasingly either out of the reach of ordinary American families, and which, to the extent that college is presently available to them, requires the student assume a mortgage approximately as burdensome as for the purchase of a modest house. The trend is for the house to get bigger.

Related to that, perhaps, we have a ruling party that panders to gross ignorance, encouraging religious zealotry and bigotry and antiscientific stupidity like creationism and "intelligent" design (which I am sure they privately sneer at) to get votes. Or, and this is an even more fearful thought, perhaps they don't sneer at it.

Finally, I suppose I should mention the general Republican Kulturkampf against every advance in in human compassion in the last hundred years, and many of the advances in human reason.

And the odd thing about my list is that I know there is a lot of stuff I'm forgetting.

No comments: