Birthers: The New Republican Party

August 11, 2009

I heard a statistic the other day that 48% of Republicans either are not sure or deny that President Obama was born in the USA. This pretty much confirms my suspicion that half of the Republican Party consists of closet bigots who refuse to see anyone of color as a true American. This is not to say that they are among the lunatic fringe called “birthers”, whose real agenda is to foment a violent right wing coup. They are tacitly creating hysteria designed to encourage some nut with a gun to save America. Sarah Palin was flirting with the same dynamic when she accused Obama of “paling-around” with terrorists and allowing her audience to shout out “traitor” and “kill him”.

Most Republicans are vulnerable to the idea that Obama was not born in the USA because he is an African-American, and to them, anything but a white face is suspect. Republicans are already an almost exclusively white political party – one starkly divided economically and educationally. One wing of the Republican Party is the country club elitists – the white guys who own about 90% of all wealth in the U.S. They are college-educated and most of them inherited or married into their wealth. The other Republican Party is white middle-class or poorer, not well educated, and bitter about having to compete with “foreigners” who they blame for their lack of economic success. They want to be like the country club Republicans, but the closest they will ever come is to be culturally alike. Republicans cling to a sort of moral and racial certainty that makes them vulnerable to xenophobic or racist movements like the birthers.

Even more revealing than the wink and a nod that the Republican leadership gives to birthers, is their rejection of Judge Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. While all Republican Senators thus far have said that she was qualified (the only Constitutional requirement), nearly all of them will vote against her because they just don’t like her. They may try to hide behind complaints about her “judicial activism”, but with a record of supporting judicial precedents far better than conservatives currently on the Supreme Court, they really have no rationale. The curious thing about the lack of Republican support for the Sotomayor nomination is that, not only is it the right thing to, do but it also makes political sense – if you don’t want to offend Hispanic-Americans. Republican Senators boxed themselves in early by portraying her as “anti-white male”. Clearly, the Republican Party encouragement of the “birthers” and their senseless objection to Judge Sotomayor means that the Republican Party is being reborn as the old Republican Party of “whites only”.

Something Happening Here…

August 10, 2009

Could it be that the game is still the same and only the players have switched uniforms?
I’ve written a lot in the past about my concern that President Obama’s economic team was composed of the same people who helped build the corrupt system on Wall St. that collapsed last year, instead of progressive economists who were not part of the “trickle-down country club”. I am only becoming more and more suspicious as we learn more his economic policies.
There are three legs to the Obama “plan” as I understand it: tax money to stabilize the financial institutions, tax money to stimulate the economy to create jobs and increased regulation to safeguard the economy and consumers. Six months into the program, it seems clear that the warnings of progressive economists, such as Nobel Prize winners Krugman and Stiglitz have come true: Wall St. is more powerful and profitable than ever before, and blue collar families are worse off. In other words, the Administration has changed, but the results are the same.
The bailout money has resulted in more powerful and profitable Wall St. firms with less competition (the Goldman-Sachs alumni in the Obama Administration allowed competitors like Bear-Stearns and Lehman Brothers to go bankrupt while Sachs was bailed out). If these Wall St. firms were too big to fail before, then the situation has only gotten worse. Most of the tax payer monies were transferred between the remaining firms and are unaccounted for except for executive bonuses which have continued at the same rates as before the bailouts. For example, AIG used their bailout money to pay out large bonuses and to pay back loans from Goldman-Sachs (who had already been given money for those same loans with their bailout money – they got paid twice!).
Banks used our money to buy other banks instead of bailing out foreclosed homes or lending to small businesses. Tens of billions of dollars went to stabilize foreign banks. Once again, tax payer monies are unaccounted for. Homeowners in foreclosure who couldn’t get their bank to lower their mortgage 2%, were forced to lend the same banks their tax dollars. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is selling back the tax payer ownership stocks to the banks at a fraction of their true value. Banks got essentially free loans from the same people who they were denying loans and have to pay only a fraction of the money back.
Finally the “regulatory reforms” announced to protect American consumers are being weakened to the point of irrelevance. For example, the law designed to set up an agency to protect consumers from credit card company abuses is being designed as “advisory only” with no enforcement ability. In other words, they can tell a credit card company that raising interest rates or imposing new fees are wrong, but can’t do anything to stop them.

Progressive economists warn that the bailout program would only result in less competition and money disappearing; the stimulus package was too small and so poorly designed that most of the money would not go to create jobs and that the regulations need to be enforceable by an agency in the Fed (i.e. not having the same coworkers enforcing the regulations). They were right, but President Obama is ignoring his own mistakes.
5% of Americans control the 90% of the wealth in America and the same 5% control the government – Republican or Democrat. How do we change this equation?