Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The More Things Change

I was disheartened by the time I finished reading The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank.  It is an amazing history of the political right-wing, going way back, but especially since the Reagan years.  Apparently, the crazy, incoherent philosophies of people like John Boehner have all been choreographed by movement ideologues for decades.  It is no accident that the goal of the last Congress was to say no, and halt the movement of the Congress.  And it worked.

A party united is what the corporations that own our politicians paid for, and Frank documents the intricate relationship that has developed among corporations, lobbyists and members of Congress.  The Gingrich House exists today, Boehner's contract on America an echo of that penned by Gingrich.

If it seems strange that the Boehner promises, from transparency to jobs, have fallen by the wayside, and after the symbolic death of Obama's Affordable Health Care Act our House is now tackling issues like abortion, that is also a part of the plan.  While their social base is getting fired up about issues like abortion and gun rights, the fact that jobs are not being created is left for the upcoming election, when Obama and the Democrats will be blamed for the failure.

We all laughed when, after the 2008 landslide, the republicans, as united as ever, insisted that it was their agenda demanded by the American people.  But it worked.  Tossing out the words "socialist" and "nazi" can still get you mileage when the voters are too scared and exhausted to know better.

After I finished reading The Wrecking Crew, I decided to go back to Molly Ivins' collected essays on the Clinton years, You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You.

What I most remember from my first reading of this collection at the end of the 90's, is that it wasn't funny.  Molly Ivins, who made us laugh with the riotous stories of the Texas lege, wasn't laughing.  That Bill Clinton caved and compromised on so many issues critical to the welfare of the American people, I believe it broke her heart.

Making deals to benefit the corporations while cutting benefits to the poorest and youngest Americans.  Paving the way for those corporations to take jobs and dollars overseas, while slashing salaries and benefits for their workers back home.  Downsizing.  Increased productivity.  Record salaries for CEO's.  Record profits for Wall Street.

I supposed it's fitting reading for January, when our President has just allowed cuts to the payroll tax that funds Social Security and Medicare while continuing the huge tax cuts for the top one percent of American earners.  Talking about extending social security retirement age being on the table, while the very wealthy (top 1/2 of one percent) maintain the right to pass millions of dollars, untaxed, to their heirs.

What would Molly say if she were still with us?  Maybe she would just shake her head and again say, "You got to dance with them what brung you."

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