October 21, 2010 9:22:00 AM
Something very strange has happened to the Republican Party I called home for 32 years.
The intellectual core of the party has transformed from lucid conservative thinkers such as William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater, into simplistic slogan shouters who allow no dissent within their ranks when voting in Congress, and who have fielded candidates who must flee reporters to avoid having to defend their out-of-bounds positions.
Republicans have also somehow mis-identified the economic truck that ran over us in 2008; that truck had "crony capitalism" written on the side of it, not "socialism." Yet the term socialism carries Pavlovian resonance with the far right Republican base, so I suppose it doesn''t matter what actually happened if pretending it was something more politically potent proves expedient.
Republicans also speak of out-of-control spending, huge deficits, dastardly tax increases, and mortgaging our grandchildren''s future. Let''s review these fears.
President Bush''s TARP program spent $800 billion to save the banks and financial system, but that has been paid back and even earned a profit. The auto company bailouts will cost about $33 billion. President Obama''s stimulus program was about the same initial amount, but this federal government spending has been largely offset by huge spending cutbacks by state governments, resulting in a nearly neutral amount of government stimulus.
The economic meltdown removed $15 to 20 trillion from the American economy, so $1 trillion in spending to avoid a second Great Depression seems prudent. Such a savage drop in economic activity might demand that several trillion dollars be pumped into the economy to revive American markets, put Americans back to work, and provide new tax revenues to reduce the deficit.
Even before the $20 trillion was lost to the recession, inflation was not a threat. A few trillion dollars in stimulus should not alter that equation since, even then, far fewer dollars would be in circulation than in 2007.
But the Tea Party Republicans will have none of it. They demand budget stringency with huge spending reductions, deficit busting tax cuts, and the privatizing of the social safety net. They decry government stimulus spending, done by both parties, as a budgetary abomination.
Let us be clear. If the Tea Partiers had been in charge in 2008 we would now be in the second Great Depression, deflation would be intractable and ruinous, and unemployment might exceed the 25 percent of the early 1930s. The banking and auto industries, along with the myriad of related enterprises, would have failed, the housing industry would be in total collapse, 401Ks and most pension systems would worth 10-cents on the dollar, and the Tea Partiers would be leaving town tarred, feathered and on a rail.
But the Tea Partiers, incredibly, may yet have their day if the polls are correct.
Inconceivably, they have a large cohort that subscribes to their depression creating plan for the American economy. These followers think, incorrectly, that socialism did-in the economy, that demanding a balanced budget while tittering on the edge of the economic abyss is wise, and that letting the economy free-fall into perfect "balance" is a laudable idea even if it mires us in a decade long depression.
In the 1930s we indulged in such depression creating madness. That debacle required a World War (with deficits that utterly dwarf the current one) to extricate us.
The additional astounding feature of this nightmare is the utter vapidity of nearly every politician of either party. They are so busy cowering at the Tea Partier''s feet that they have become delusional in their pronouncements. Candidates of both parties promise more economically suicidal spending cuts than their opponent, and apparently think that putting a gun to the head of the American economy is a wise idea. It seems there are no leaders running in current elections, only pandering trend followers.
Tea Partier Rand Paul, Republican Senate candidate from Kentucky, claims the economy can only be revived with "lower taxes and less government regulation." Mr. Paul, and those who applaud him, ignore that those two specific imperatives were in full force prior to the 2008 economic collapse.
The economic implosion is largely blamed on lax banking regulation while the worst-ever ecological disaster in the Gulf is blamed on lax government oversight. Yet the Tea Party demands even less regulation as their solution? The Republican corporate memory can apparently be measured in weeks, not in decades.
The 2008 deficit came significantly from tax cuts and two wars funded off budget, yet the Tea Partiers seem intent on draconian spending reductions, that will decimate the American economy and eviscerate our social safety net, instead of curtailing the wars.
Republicans offer billions to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, and to keep 150,000 troops in the theater indefinitely, but offer little to rebuild American infrastructure or to pay extended unemployment benefits to millions of American workers laid off as a direct result of the Wall Street meltdown. Why are we rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan instead of America?
There must be some explanation for this self-destructive economic impulse, but darn if I can see it. I hope we all enjoy the Tea Party economic depression that may be on the way.
Lacklen is a retired Air Force Reserve pilot, who flew missions in Vietnam and Iraq. Presently he is simulator instructor at CAFB and is writing a book about his experiences in the Air Force. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Jay Lacklen is a retired Air Force Reserve pilot, who flew missions in Vietnam and Iraq. Presently he is simulator instructor at CAFB and is writing a book about his experiences in the Air Force.
hope commented at 10/21/2010 11:54:00 AM:
I would like to be rich enough to have this article printed in every newspaper, broadcast on every TV network and radio starting as of right now.
kj commented at 10/21/2010 3:40:00 PM:
It baffles me that so many are enamored of the exact policies that put us into this recession. But then I remember that our state government is balancing it's budget with federal handouts and education cuts instead of just raising taxes to a level at which we can fund both a well-maintained infrastructure and an effective education system.
frank commented at 10/21/2010 4:13:00 PM:
This guy is so heavy on the left side that he walks and talks in circles. I nominate this article for the 2010 booby prize. Lacklen? He is lacking more than that...
melody commented at 10/21/2010 9:03:00 PM:
pretty good observation, framk, and I say aman to every word. being a lefty is pre-wreckrisit to qualify for a job on the dispatch staff.
kj commented at 10/22/2010 12:01:00 PM:
@melody: a pre-what?
hope commented at 10/22/2010 3:52:00 PM:
@frank------Why are we rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan, and not America?
hope commented at 10/22/2010 7:14:00 PM:
The debt explosion has occurred not from big spending by the Democrats, but from the Republican Party's sly doctrine that deficits don't matter if they result from tax cuts.
raider commented at 10/22/2010 8:46:00 PM:
Mr. Lacklen I am a Democrat and I would like to commend you on a well written and thoughtful opinion. The times you speak of...where democrats amd republicans came together and sincerly tried to find ways to solve america's problems is long gone. I don't know if we will ever return to those times. I believe the parties positions on abortion was the beginning of the great divide. Anybody who sticks thier neck out now for bipartisanship is begging for thier head to be cut off. Unfortunately, I believe the next time our economy has a down turn, stimulus spending will be so toxic, no congressman or president will dare suggest spending a dime to stimulate the economy. We will end up in a full blown depression before the country learn that we need to listen to economist for economic properity and not politicians.
Thank you for the post. I can see by the post here that you are no longer welcomed in your party. Hang in there. One day, the radicals will be forced to listen to the few rational folks that are left.
hope commented at 10/23/2010 8:58:00 AM:
If the Republican Tea Party wins, the people lose. "GUARANTEED!"
frank commented at 10/23/2010 9:37:00 AM:
"Why are we rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan, and not America?"
Hopeless that is a good question for Obama, Reid, and Pelosi. Last time I checked, they had the control.
frank commented at 10/23/2010 10:06:00 AM:
The root of this financial crisis lies in the repeal of the Glass Steagall act. The repeal was engineered by Republicans and signed by Democrat Bill Clinton. There is plenty of blame to go around for both political parties but as usual each side wants to lay it all off on the other.
In a nutshell, a R congress with a D President repealed the law and a D congress with a R President oversaw the collapse it caused. The Tea Party's mission is to throw all the irresponsible bastards out and get some people in office who are responsible to the people. Everybody who fears doing that needs to just reelect the incumbent dogs and live with the same old crap results for the years to come.
Now that's the truth. If you like the end-around rhetoric trying to shift blame and obscure the facts, then you loved this article. If you are tired of the BS, vote the bums out. We the people are ultimately responsible for the government we receive. It is time WE take that responsibility seriously.
mr. jordan commented at 10/23/2010 11:02:00 AM:
You are correct about Glass Steagall, which ought to be brought back.
However, it was a Republican Congress with a Republican president from 2000 to 2006 that oversaw the collapse.
Throwing the bums out is a laudable position, but please view who the proffered replacements are:
Carl Paladino who emailed his cronies a doctored picture of the Obama's as a pimp and prostitute as well as a woman having sex with a horse.
Kristine O'Donnell who thinks the Chinese have a secret plan to take over America, thinks human brains have been trasplanted into mice, and who thinks people out to get her are hiding in her bushes out front.
Rand Paul who disagrees with the Civil Rights act, wants to privatize Social Security (that would have worked well in economic collapse of 2008, right?) and to let the economy collapse and start over.
Sharron Angle who thinks millions of people who lost their jobs due to the Wall Street meltdown are lazy bums who won't take a menial job and should have their benefits cut off, and is considering "2nd Amendment solutions" (armed revolution) if things don't go her way politically.
Throw the bums out, perhaps, but at least demand some minimal level of replacement bums to take their place.
hope commented at 10/23/2010 11:08:00 AM:
The financial overhaul that President Obama and the Democrats crafted without the help of the Republicans is stronger than the GSA. The Republican Tea Party wants to repeal it. In this case the bums are right and I will vote to keep the bums in.
frank commented at 10/23/2010 12:01:00 PM:
And so it goes. Jordan scoffs and Hopeless is still, well, hopeless.
We the people have a chance to vote for OUR leaders on Tuesday Nov. 2nd. Go out and do it. Like I said, WE are responsible for the government we receive. I don't like what WE have had for the last 20 years from either party. Do you?
kj commented at 10/23/2010 3:40:00 PM:
Frank, when you don't even know the truth, you can't speak to it.
GWB inherited a Republican congress and they promptly declared that deficits didn't matter, jettisoned the rest of the Reagan-era conservative baggage, and spent spent spent spent spent. Granted, they didn't do as poor a job as the management of Cadence Bank, but it was still abysmal.
frank commented at 10/24/2010 1:24:00 AM:
Hey KJ, as I said there is plenty of blame to go around for both parties. As to knowing the truth, I have lived it and seen it. You people want to harp on one side or the other with closed minds and twist the facts to suit your own point of view. Frankly I am sick of that crap. BOTH parties have controlled all aspects of the government at different times during the last 20 years and neither one has been effective. It is time to get some fresh faces in Congress, no matter the party. We have control of our own district. That is a good place to start.
I am not a Democrat or Republican but I am no doubt a conservative and a capitalist. I actually liked Clinton better than Bush but consider neither a very good leader. I hope the future holds better men and women to get this country back on track. We are bankrupt and fast fading as a world power. Until the BS stops, the nation will flounder. The Tea Party is far from perfect but at least it has put some spark back into the political process...
hope commented at 10/24/2010 9:25:00 AM:
@frank------Are you for the Republican Tea Party repealing financial overhaul bill that's in place now? If they do repeal it, things will be like when Bush was at the throttle. Is that what you want?
frank commented at 10/24/2010 9:52:00 AM:
Hopeless FinReg puts 8 layers of bureaucracy in place with the specific functions of the different Federal agencies involved currently undefined. On top of that confusion, it duplicates many laws already on the books and potentially renders others useless. Glass Steagall worked for 60 years to accomplish the same objective. FinReg, much like the 6000 page health care bill is what is commonly known as a cluster----. It is typical of the legislation we have seen out of Congress by both parties in recent years.
I am on the Democratic party mailing list and read their party line each week. Then I look at the comment section of the CD and read it again in your attempts to paraphrase it. Some independent thought and research on your part would be refreshing, but hey then you wouldn't be Hopeless would you?
hope commented at 10/24/2010 11:33:00 AM:
@frank-----Nobody can have their way all the time, so guess you will have to be content with what we have now. You can be assured that the Republican Tea Party won't re-instate the GSA.
frank commented at 10/24/2010 2:00:00 PM:
No, I don't "have to be content with what we have now". I have a vote I intend to cast on November 2nd and so do the majority of people reading this. We can change what we have now.
kj commented at 10/24/2010 3:32:00 PM:
Yes, we can change what we have now and vote back into power the people who bent us over from 2001 to 2009.
OK Frank, you know the truth. Then I can only question why you deliberately distort it in your post above: "and a D congress with a R President oversaw the collapse it caused."
Is that inaccurate or are you not aware of the makeup of congress for the first 6 years of the GWb presidency?
frank commented at 10/24/2010 3:41:00 PM:
No distortion there. The collapse occurred between 2007 and 2009 KJ. All you need to do is check your historical economic figures to confirm that. 'W' was President with a D congress during that period.
mr. jordan commented at 10/24/2010 5:09:00 PM:
Now Frank, the Democratically controlled Congress took over in January 2007 when the economy was already rolling down the cliff. Everything before the collapse had Republicans in control, although, at many junctures, the Democrats were right there with them.
frank commented at 10/25/2010 12:19:00 AM:
Jordan wrote; "Everything before the collapse had Republicans in control"
The key word you used is "before". Which validates exactly what I said. Go read it again if you must.
Why all the attempts to twist what I said? It is in plain English. Geez.
frank commented at 10/25/2010 12:43:00 AM:
Just a little trivia:
In 2006 and 2007 the US unemployment rate was 4.6% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped out at 14,164.53 in October, 2007. I sure hope you folks who keep warning me that we are headed back to those days if Congress changes hands are right! It is scary but what the heck, Halloween is coming. Let's shake em up and see what flies out!
walter commented at 10/25/2010 10:41:00 AM:
Lacklen speaks for the few, but very enlighten Mississipians, who refuse to be brain-washed by the same old reactionary elements in the state and region, who have successfully held the majority of the people back. When more people like him began to speak their minds, the South, with all of its' great resources, will finally assume it's position of leadership, not only within the nation, but the world. The area is already famous for producing some of the most unique and accomplished individuals the world has ever known, across a wide spectrum in fields as diverse as science, music, sports, and on and on. Mississippi, alone, produced an Elvis, an Oprah, a Freeman (Morgan, that is), Tennessee Williams, B.B. King, Walter Payton, Mannings (2 of them), Brett, a Rice, Eudora Welty, and the list continues almost infinitum. Not even included in the preceding list are individuals so reknown and whose achievements are so noteworthy, they are household names.
Surely, with so many creative and talented individuals having been born in or whose roots are traceable to Mississippi, the state as a whole, cannot be so dumb as to be deceived by a group of people calling themselves Tea Party and who are as dishonest or ignorant as the day is long! Lacklen speaks for the real people of Mississippi and what he wrote captures the essence, or lack thereof, of the so-called Tea Party. They distort facts and re-write history in an effort to achieve their agenda. The do that best by attacking anyone intelligent, honest and decent enough to state the facts and nothing but the facts, despite the criticism and personal assault that they know will certainly follow.
frank commented at 10/25/2010 11:24:00 AM:
Them thar old Bible thumpin', gun totin', hicks, are ah holdin' us back agin. We could be "enlightened" progressives like Ms. Pelosi's San Francisco district if it wern't for them dang folks.
walter commented at 10/25/2010 1:07:00 PM:
The "Bible thumpin' gun totin', hicks..." aren't the problem. The problem is the suave, smooth-talking, manipulative, sap-suckers who have exploited them before and after the Civil War to secure their own vested interests. Vested interests, in the earlier years, such as owning slaves and controling poor whites; in later years, interests such as maintaining poor educational systems and maintaining division between the dominant races.
We could be enlightened and progressive like the real decent Mississippians who strive each day to move the state from the bottom and on to the top, in things for which a state should want to be recognized for being at the top. We need not look to California or Speaker Pelosi. Although their numbers are small, but growing, natives prepared and willing to move the state forward can already be found in Columbus, West Point and Jackson, too. You'll see. In time, they're going to make their voices heard, much louder, clearer and more persistently.
Incidentally, they won't speak in broken english, either. But, if they do, pay attention to what they say, moreso than how they say it.
hope commented at 10/25/2010 7:36:00 PM:
@frank------your trivia bit makes sense, but something went terribly wrong for the Republicans to get so soundly defeated in the election of 2008. I wonder if the economy was a fake like Bush and his cronies were.
frank commented at 10/25/2010 10:20:00 PM:
You're a pretty smooth talker yourself there Wally. Reminds me of Obama.
frank commented at 10/25/2010 10:35:00 PM:
Hopeless the Republicans ran a liberal and an unknown trying to follow a President that started an unpopular war. Anybody could have beat them, and did. It reminded me of so much of the Dukakis fiasco years earlier. All that was missing was the tank.
raider commented at 10/25/2010 11:50:00 PM:
Mississippi, alone, produced an Elvis, an Oprah, a Freeman (Morgan, that is), Tennessee Williams, B.B. King, Walter Payton, Mannings (2 of them), Brett, a Rice, Eudora Welty, and the list continues almost infinitum.
You know what's interesting about this list? Pretty much all of them was smart enough to leave Mississippi!!
"Them thar old Bible thumpin', gun totin', hicks, are ah holdin' us back agin. We could be "enlightened" progressives like Ms. Pelosi's San Francisco district if it wern't for them dang folks." Yep, we sure as hell don't wont to be like them San Francisco LIBERALS. I mean they got a better education system and a higher standard of living and stuff but We sure as hell don't wont that here in Mississippi. We need to keep doing what we are doing. We are just as happy as we can be to be last in education. And we are damn grateful that employers keep letting us fight for $8 per hour jobs. We don't need no stinking Unions in here trying get us higher wages. As long as I got my gun and my bible and they let me fly my flag, I'm happy. We been living like this forever and I don't see no need to change things now.
frank commented at 10/26/2010 11:36:00 AM:
Yep Raider you are being "exploited" by smooth talkers here. Head on out to Kalyfornia where the state is being run so well by those smart liberals. Then again you might like the gun toters in Texas who seem to be weathering the storm rather well. I just don't know for sure where you would fit in best after you "leave Mississippi" but we all wish you luck.
walter commented at 10/26/2010 12:41:00 PM:
Yes. Far too many of Mississippi's creative, courageous, concerned, conscious and compassionate sons and daughters have left the state. Of course, many, unnamed ones, were driven out because they wouldn't conform or kiss the Guvnor's hand or the hands of the real power-brokers in he state.
Morgan Freeman remained and so did Ms. Eudora Welty. Others moved away, but remained engaged in as direct a way as possible. Some cannot return because less than $5 worth of drug residue was more than enough to land them in prison for years, while simultaneously getting an opportunistic prosecutor or two elected (actually appointed, despite a bogus election process) to judgships.
Mississippi is where it is because sons and daughters with integrity and opportuity to leave, simply find it emotionally unbearable to remain and witness the sadness, the foolishness, the cruelty. Many who stay have some how or the other become immune to such; or, their religious convictions (God is in control) have prepared them to accept (or not see) the injustices around them and the exploitation of their fellows.
To change Mississippi, more Mississippians need to stay put, as Toby instructed Kissee to do. But, how can you do that when you're arrested for ridiculous reasons and prosecuted by persons whose criminal acts are more serious than the one for which they're convicting you? How can you, if you're denied capital to start your own business or epand an existing one and if you're denied employment opportunity, becaue you smoked a joint when you were 15? How can you stay when the hypocrits are running the show and when a multi-millionaire is scared to speak to a recovered ex-friend for fear that he will also be accused?
Still, if Mississippi is going to rise to the level where it rightfully belongs, Mississippians of intergrity and honesty must stay put and challenge those who have profitted from exploiting the ignorance and decency of a good, kind-hearted people. If not there, physically, they must engage hemselves in the dialogue concerning the state, regardless of where they currently reside. Progressive ideas/ideals must refute the reactionary ones being flung like cow manure all over the air waves and in the press.
wpmedic1 commented at 11/2/2010 10:31:00 PM:
Mr. Lacklen you are as far from being a conservative as any left-wing nut on MSNBC. At least have the guts to say you are a liberal before going on your rant. I am glad Americans saw through this liberal nonsense and went to the polls today to stop Obama's socialist agenda.
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