Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Prize Package or Trojan Horse?

Well, it passed the Senate, and of course, it's not to everyone's liking. My faux Conservative friend from Virginia e-mailed me today whingeing about the fact that his son and all his as yet unborn grandchildren were going to be the inheritors of a 'massive debt' due t0 our rapid descent into socialism. My heart bleeds for him ... not. I've lived under semi-socialism and it's not that bad. Honestly.

From what I can glean from the bill the Senate cut, pared and finally passed is that they're proposing a system by which the government 'buys' all the bad banks and sort of cleans them up and re-positions them. This is similar to what was done not too long ago in Norway; only there the bigger banks absorbed a lot of the smaller, less solvent ones under the bigger banks' aegis. I suppose our plan is semi-socialistic. I don't know. I can't pretend to understand economy as I've never been quite the one for maths, science and the lot, especially maths.

I know the Republicans are moaning about there not being enough tax cuts, but I can't see what that would accomplish. In an economically hard time, if you hand people more money in the form of tax cuts, middle- and working-class people are going to put this money aside in savings. Hand a tax cut to a wealthy person or a wealthy business establishment and they might spend; but we all know that trickle down simply didn't ... er, trickle down. The Republicans' behaviour has simply astounded me during the past week or so, especially in the Senate.

Talk about sour grapes. They're dangerously echoing the stated sentiment of their real leader, Rush Limbaugh, in wanting, willing Obama to fail. And I must admit, I've been more than a bit perplexed and critical of Obama in the past seven days, for his repeated attempt at 'peace, love and understanding' the Republican party in the name of bi-partisanship.

Mr President, these are not nice people. You've made your point. You've tried. They just aren't that into you as a President. They're bitter, twisted, angry, jealous, old and white. They tried. They failed. They're not going to get over it, so you and the Democratic party better develop some backbone and fast. Charlie Crist might be an exception; but Charlie Crist isn't sitting in Congress or the Senate with that disapproving old maiden-faced Mitch McConnell breathing down his neck or Lindsey Graham throwing hissy fits.

Mr President, kick ASS. Start by respectfully retiring that Mormon gentleman, Harry Reid. (A Mormon and a Democrat? That's an oxymoron, if ever there was one - or should I say oxyMormon?) I suggest making Jim Webb Senate majority leader. He's a man who takes no quarter and doesn't suffer fools gladly. (The fact that he's also a Virginian and from my native state, is an added bonus).

And listening to Tim Geithner's explanation of the bailout package .... well, hmmmmmmmmm, is all I can say. Part of it sounds suspiciously like stuff Bush propounded: like not holding the banks who got themselves up shit creek responsible for the dodgy mortgages and cruddy loans made to people who, unfortunately, didn't have repayment means.

Finally, I'm amused and dismayed and more than a bit peeved at the reaction of Mike Huckabee to the Stimulus Package. Governor Huckabee is one of the more likeable Republicans. He seems a nice man, in a Christian sort of way - and there's the rub. The very aspect that makes him likeable, also makes him 'unlikeable' as well. He reared the ugly head of Christianity when he slammed the fact that the Stimulus Package prohibited higher education funds from being allotted to Schools of Divinity. Quite bloody right. Someone's FINALLY thinking along Constitutional lines now in the Senate, especially after Obama's less-than-subtle wink in the direction of those people in the US who define themselves as secular. Federal money shouldn't be given to divinity schools. We have no established church nor do we have an established religion, and in no way should the government fund the education of clergymen or men of faith. It's a private matter. I see also, he went on to slam some of the agencies to which federal money had been allotted - like those evil women socialists who front Emily's List.

You know, they say the Republicans won the first round of the PR war last week with all their posturing and pirouetting about how bad the proposed Stimulus Package was; they did this with their usual 'fear tactics', with smear and appealing to the base, yet again. I was worried that some people, people who would normally have endorsed a Republican candidate, might have reverted to type in this first crisis of the new Administration. Therefore, I was glad the President moved swiftly, both in his Press Conference and in his visits to communities in Indiana and Florida. Obama is a great communicator. You have only to listen to him speak and then listen to some jumbled garbage propagated by Bush to understand the difference. The former speaks the people in the audience. He speaks directly to them. Take 49 people out of an audience of 50 and Obama would still sound the same way, as if he's speaking directly to the people. And he is. Maybe I'm naive, maybe I've been out of the country too long, maybe I'm just stupid and starstruck that after 8 years we have a President who can string a subject and a predicate together and come up with a coherent thought; but I trust Obama. I trust him in a way I've never really trusted any government leader in my voting lifetime. He seems sincere. I believe he's sincere, although I might be wrong. Listening to his predecessor was a painful exercise in anger management. I cannot believe the stupidity levels of American voters to have elected a cretin like George Bush, and to give him a second term and free reign to rape and pillage the Constitution. That single act by the American people gave credence to the addage that people get the government they deserve.

Well, we finally got one right, it seems - at least for the moment. I think Obama did the right thing in making those two trips and playing them out before the public. I hope he does more of that. Why? Because it will galvinise the people to contact their representatives and hold their feet to the fire in supporting a President who wants to work for his people - and not just the people who elected him, but those who didn't either. Maybe I'm wrong about Obama, but I hope not. A week after the Inauguration, I was speaking with one of my aunts in Virginia. She'll turn 80 this year. I asked how she liked the new President.

'Just fine,' she said. 'I've lived long enough to see a People's President.'

I have as well.

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