politics & government

Hope and Chains

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U.S. News — Joan Walsh, editor-at-large of Salon.com, says Vice President Joe Biden had a point when he told an audience including black voters in Danville, Va., Tuesday that Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains.”

“I don’t think he was referring just to slavery,” she said. “Most people came to this country as indentured servants. We have all been in shackles at some point—except maybe the wealthy.”

Okay, let me get this straight – Joe Biden had a point (which means he had a fairly accurate and enlightening assessment) that the banking industry and the Republican presidential ticket would indeed put us all in chains if given the Whitehouse? And he was referring to all of us – not just his predominantly black audience – because most people came to this country as indentured servants?

Let’s just pretend for now that he was not indulging on racial emotions by using this inflammatory imagery. Let’s pretend he really was talking to all of us indentured servants (I’m pissing my pants laughing just writing that). Is he still not guilty of at least fear mongering or hyperbole? If Romney and Ryan are elected will they really ease regulations on banks so much that all but a few of us will be left in corporate chains? Shouldn’t he have said something like, “Our opponents believe that deregulating the banks will help businesses investing again, but we know that there’s a more effective and less precarious way to do this.” I would totally respect that argument.

Nevertheless, this “chains” talk is the type of language and imagery Obama’s minions are using. And the President sits back and lets it happen. He refuses to renounce a super PAC ad that indirectly blames Mitt Romney for some poor woman’s death. It is the paltriest campaign I have ever seen. He even has a Truth Team that urges people to contest dissenting opinion! I’m not making this up. It’s right out of 1984.

Here is the reality of the situation. You have a guy in Obama who took over for a very unpopular president during an economic crisis. His challenges were many, but his expectations were modest and his room for improvement was much. He could have sat on his hands and let the cycle of the economy run its course without increasing the deficit a single dime and had better unemployment numbers than this. But instead he threw money at the problem, and after 4 years and an additional $5 trillion in debt things are virtually the same. But instead of admitting it is not working and proposing a new strategy (much like Bush did with Iraq and the surge) he vilifies the wealthy and blames his predecessors.

The scariest thing about it is that it works! Most of us aren’t rich. And for some reason, we resent those who are. We forget that these people pay most of the taxes already. We refuse to believe that most of them have made their money fairly and diligently. And we fail to understand that even if we raised taxes on these people to 100% of their income it would barely put a dent in our deficit.

It’s also easy to blame the Republican Party for the poor economy, because the former President was Republican. But he had 46 straight months of job growth, record low unemployment, and record GDP growth until the bottom fell out in 2008 under the watch of a newly elected Democratic congress. Now I am not blaming the Democratic congress for what happened in 2008, or even Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. But the current President shouldn’t be blaming his predecessor or Wall Street just the same. Especially not 4 years after the fact. Any fair minded person would concede that it was a perfect storm with many contributing factors.

This is why I have gone from a moderate democrat, to independent, to just plain ant-liberal in the last 12 years. Ever since the Iraq war became unpopular in 2004, liberal conspiracy theory has dominated the national dialogue. Everyone in power is corrupt, everyone in society is a victim, and if you don’t sympathize with this plight you’re a devil. It controls the internet, the news, pop-culture, and mass consciousness because it is so much easier to be cynical than realistic in the light of long wars and a poor economy. And since Obama it has only gotten worse. In the 1990’s, it used to be that the political and ideological fringe in this country was on the right. Today it is further on the left than ever before.

Just read about the arguments Joan Walsh alludes to in her book. She asserts that half of all Americans believe that we spend too much money on the poor, and that the other half believes we give too many advantages to the rich. I am sure that’s not true at all. I would bet that many Americans think we do neither, and many more think we do both. Regardless of what Americans think, what is she really trying to say by this?

She says that the white middle class needs to realize decisions made by the government have benefited them. Why do they need to realize this? Is this even true? What has the U.S. government done specifically in the last 30 years to benefit solely the white middle class? What is she implying here? And I have no idea what she’s talking about with her reference to slackers and moochers.

The thing is, is that she doesn’t know what she’s saying. She’s using inflammatory language and outrageous claims to reinvigorate American cynicism, console liberal white guilt, and demonize the wealthy along with others who might disagree with her. Nothing she said, at least in the U.S. News piece, gives any credibility or insight to what Joe Biden said. And that is assuming what he said wasn’t racial pandering (which it obviously was). That is assuming that Biden was talking to all of us indentured servants out there. I know. Indentured servants. She really said that!


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