Author: oscar the Observer

Oscar Observes: Origin of the Species-Republicanus Rejectus

We need to re-investigate the Origin of The Species – the species of today’s Republicans.

Why are Republicans against whatever Democrats or Independents are for?  Michael Bérubé, a literature professor at Penn State observes “It is very difficult to get a man to understand something when his tribal identity depends on his not understanding it.” Man, that hits the nail on the head, in one sentence.

The Democrats have Centrists, ultra liberals, and the Blue Dogs who are simply trying to court favor with enough Republicans in their districts to have a chance for re-election. But the Republican leadership, through threats and intimidation, have kept their party voting as a bloc, and they’ve made it clear that the failure of the Democrats as a party for the past 2 years is diversity of opinion and voting independence.

The Origin of the Republican Species is policies that favor the interests of very few and distrusting anything that smells of populism.  Republicans and Tea Partiers decrying “elitism” is self-condemnation uttered by the deaf and blind.

Republicans with brains won’t vote their consciences because they don’t want to be branded in campaigns as the persons responsible for Obama’s re-election or re-election of Democrats.

“Big government”is a false issue, subscribed to because of American provincialism and ignorance of history and civics. Who’s opposed to effective rules to prevent Wall Street’s excesses and conniving that precipitated this economic retrogression? Or really opposed to expansion of the middle class and contraction of the super rich that widens the gulf between Americans each year? Is the fear of government “control” of our lives more realistic than “control” of our lives by mega corporations, by Wall Street traders and bankers who don’t care about the consequences of their effort to maximize their incomes at the expense of everyone else’s?

We should counter the false alarm of “big government” with“intelligent government for you and me.” Americans are sacrificial lambs when politicians comport themselves only to thwart social and economic progress so that “the other party” will not be able to claim any accomplishments in the next election campaign.  And we have to combat the falsehood that the Democrats are more dedicated to improving the lot of the poor than improving the social and economic conditions of all Americans.  In that respect, we should adopt the term “Obamacare” proudly, as a force for accomplishment and improvement for all Americans and be ready to improve the program as necessary.If the economy improves without Republicans proposing concrete steps to improve it, will the GOP  claim the improvement came from Republican budget-cutting initiatives? Yes, they will. Will Americans be dumb enough to believe it?  I hope not, but I won’t bet on it.

Are we now going to let American tribal identity imitate Libyan, Pakastani, Afghan and Iraqi tribal allegiances? Welcome to the 16th century, Boehner and McConnell.

Oscar Says: Econ 101 For Congress, Pronto

editors note: Oscar the Observer is astounded at the great void of economic knowledge that fills the halls of Congress.  Considering the state the budget’s in, how can anyone dispute Oscar’s Observation?

I majored in Economics in college.  Didn’t learn much, but I did learn some key things.  (Even passed my Economics Concentration exam With Distinction —– boy, I wonder which relative of mine marked my exam paper!)

I listen to these Representatives, Senators and Wannabe’s (like Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, etc.) pontificate about cutting the budget, getting the deficits under control NOW, using the rubric that we are mortgaging the future of our children  —– all of this during a near-depression, and certainly a devastating, crippling recession fueled by massive unemployment.  Have any of these people ever taken any meaningful courses in Economics?  Do they know anything about Keynes, Galbraith, Samuelson?  Have they ever heard of the concept and effect of the circular flow of money?  Do they know that historically the building cycle was independent of the general economic cycles?

I suggest that anyone speaking about the economy, opposed to government expenditures as unavailing to stimulate the economy and affect employment, and those in support of such expenditures to pull out of a recession and increase employment, must present his/her educational credentials as to whether or not, and where, they were educated in Economics, for how many courses, AND WHAT MARKS THEY GOT.  They should all sign waivers, permitting accredited news services, to receive and publish copies of their transcripts, to verify these facts, and to determine what bona fides they have concerning American history and the Depression of the 30’s.

They won’t, of course, but President Obama and others supporting deficit spending programs that they profess will combat the recession and effectively increase employment, should challenge these “mouths” who mainly scare themselves by claiming our children will be “mortgaged” and say “What education do you have in Economic theory?  You don’t know enough about Economics to be espousing cuts that will reverse the spending programs designed to pull us out of this recession and stimulate employment.  Do you have any appreciation that a healthy economy and full employment will provide the tax revenue necessary to pay down accumulated debt?  Oh, you say you only want to have tax reductions in healthy economy periods?   Were you one of the Congressmen who supported the Iraq and Afghanistan wars without being willing to adopt programs to fund them?  What economic benefit have you conceived that results from the financial support the USA oil industry receives from the U.S. government?  When you wake up, will you know you don’t know what you’re talking about?  No?  You might as well go back to sleep.”

Oscar Sounds Off

LK here.  A few days ago I received a missive from “Oscar the Observer”, once an employer of mine, who I’m now honored to call a mentor.  The man is no liberal Mr. Softee; he believes in a hard day’s work for a good day’s pay, but he also believes that every citizen should be given the tools to be able to compete for that hard day’s work.

I don’t agree with every last word in his piece, although we disagree more on how to get where we’re going than the destination itself.  And his final paragraph re Afghanistan and our inability to change a culture, and particularly its abhorrent attitude towards women, is something I’m resigned to as well.

Other than that, his innate optimism is in full regalia, as is his belief in the “can do” spirit of America, a belief nurtured as a child of the depression and WWII.  Killjoy that I can be, I wrote back that he continually frustrates me by retaining the belief that ethical, objective, even-handed thought is worth anything more than a rat’s ass in today’s irrevocably corrupt world, and that additionally, cynicism is the new reality.

Here’s his response:

Yes, to an extent, cynicism is the new reality ——- but my view is that distortion is more the new reality.

It amazes me, as cynical as I am about American intellect, that Republicans have succeeded so emphatically by their self-serving ignorance that has resulted in such gullibility by Americans, and especially the “independents” and blue dog Dems.  Everything the Republicans have promoted and pontificated about is completely wrong and adverse to pulling out of this recession.  And their ignorance has resonated as “moderation” with too many Americans.

I majored in Economics in college.  In the 1950’s, I was studying Economics in the midst of the “Eisenhower Recession” and consequently a lot of attention was given to the parallels of the Depression (the 1930’s) and the fits and starts of Roosevelt’s administration to overcome the worldwide recession and depression, which finally ended by deficit financing without limits to finance our and our allies’ armies and navies for World War II.  A large part of that financing came in the form of War Bonds that Americans bought to aid the war effort, and those debt instruments were paid off after the war in an economy that was on the upswing.  The Republican morons in Congress, who control and influence their party as if it were Stalin’s Russia, seem to me to be completely ignorant of Economics, and blind to the factors such as  the “circular flow of money,” confusing “pump priming” (Keynes and Galbraith) as being antithetical to reducing “waste.”  Congress threw a crimp into Roosevelt’s programs in 1938 by cutting off a lot of money (out of panic that our national debt was out of control), and that resulted in a double dip to the recession until we started to get ready for war, in 1940, and began manufacturing for the Lend-Lease program.

I am in favor of the broad aspects of the Simpson-Bowles plan.  We need to try it to see if it works and see if it can hold down long-term debt without crippling current economic policy to overcome the recession.  (We also need to energize American corporations and industry to begin manufacturing things here that are unnecessarily manufactured in China —– the same “patriotic” mindset that resulted in buying War Bonds instead of just putting money in the bank is needed to be brought to bear in a constant and emphatic ”Make It In America” campaign.  Why the hell is almost every tool in Sears made in China?  We must reduce our tendency to manufacture in China and bring our balance of payments back to realistic levels.  We have to eliminate our knee-jerk reaction to have everything manufactured in China that neuters our industrial ability and idles our labor force; American workers earning salaries in factories and in vertically integrated businesses that result from increased industrial productivity enables more workers here to buy products and keep the circular flow of money chugging along.)

I point out that Paul Krugman, the first day that the Obama Administration proposed the $700,000,000,000 stimulus package, went on record forcefully, writing that it would be insufficient, that at least $1,200,000,000,ooo or $1,300,000,000,000 was necessary to stimulate the economy enough.  He said $700,000,000,000 was only a start, and should not be regarded as the limit.  He was right.  Here’s the evidence:  Bernanke will throw $600,000,000,000 more into the economy over a short period of time.

And before we let the Congressional morons who are devoid of understanding economics and history pull the wool over Americas eyes further until we are completely blind, let’s remember that Bernanke, as a Princeton professor, came to prominence through his study and analysis of the Great Depression; he knows that constricting the economy and abandoning deficit financing prolongs the economic malaise and paralysis.

The Republicans resisted and tried to prevent the stimulus package.  They were stupid, still stuck in Herbert Hooverville.  At the core of their interference with support for programs and legislation that will get more money into the economy that will drive the circular flow of money is their plan to reduce the stimulus package by making Obama use the unspent stimulus money for continuation of unemployment benefits, etc.  Okay.  So, instead of selling out on the Bush tax breaks, Obama should spend the money from the stimulus package for the unemployment extension —— and Bernanke can just increase his, in effect, “additional stimulus package” by the amount deducted from the $700,000,000,000, if need be.

One last thing:  Until we get out of Afghanistan, there will continue to be a pervasive, crippling drain on our economy and weakening of America politically and in world affairs .  It’s time to say “Sayonara” to Karzai and let him be executed by the Taliban.  I believe we can preserve our safety and deal with Afghanistan as a haven for Al Qaeda by bombing Afghanistan whenever necessary.  They’ll get the message that it’s safer just to terrorize Afghanis than to establish Al Qaeda training camps.  It seems clear to me that we will never, never be able to overcome the culture of corruption in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.  No matter what we do we cannot protect women from domination by Islamic mores in those countries.  It’s unfortunate, but if we can’t deal with reality we are condemning ourselves to constant failure.

Commenting on Cynicism

LK here.  The following comment, received shortly after I posted my “Cynicism” piece earlier today, warrants better placement than hidden beneath my own post.  It fleshes out the Corker situation and goes on to provide legislative suggestions to plug a leak in the anti-corruption dam.

Even though I made it clear that I believe it’s a national change of attitude, not individual pieces of legislation, that can put us back on track, this piece demands reading and as such, belongs on the front page.

It’s author, who goes by the pen name “Oscar the Observer”,  is a brilliant attorney, but despite that, he’s also a brilliant thinker and a wonderful man who cares about our nation’s future.

The contributions to his campaign were negligible, but it was clear (from the article) that his very, very close friend owns 1100 payday lenders. There is a culture of corruption in Congress, for sure. It’s evidenced every day. Corker at first denied that he was trying to negotiate (with Dodd) an exclusion for payday lenders from the bill. And there’s a Congressional culture of falsely (or at least inaccurately or incompletely) characterizing support or resistance to legislation, from the electorate, as empirical facts.

The NY Times also reported, earlier this month, or at the end of February, that the GOP leaders went to Wall Street to get campaign contributions to the party, and were somewhat rebuffed. Then Mitch McConnell and Boehner visited Wall Street, and received commitments for GOP campaign contributions. Want to speculate on what they traded for the dollars? Watch whether ANY Republican will vote for the bill reported out of Dodd’s committee. And the Democrats who heavily rely on Wall Street contributions will also vote against it. Cynicism? It’s too mild a term. “Disgust” is much closer to the truth.

We can reduce the disgust by passing legislation that forbids any Representative or Senator from being a lobbyist, directly or indirectly, for 10 years after he/she leaves office and legislation that prevents votes or appointments by one legislator (the Bunning/Shelby ploy) or by less than a majority of the Senate; and a constitutional amendment that: (i) increases the terms of Representatives to 4 years, (ii) caps Senators’ terms at 12 or 18 years, (iii) creates an independent panel to establish congressional districts, so that Democrats are not always re-elected to the House from Democrat-gerrymandered districts and Republicans from Republican-gerrymandered districts or the same legislators automatically winning their primaries and elections in their districts, and (iv) makes the McCain-Feingold provisions constitutional.

But the legislators creating the cynicism and disgust are not interested in any of the above, because the mantra of Congress is “Don’t vote against your own self-interest; just tell the public that they don’t want it and don’t support those changes, because if you say that long enough and loud enough it brainwashes a majority of voters.”