Friday, October 03, 2008

The Company You Keep

My brother called me yesterday. We don’t talk often. And we aren’t very good at small talk. Some of you know that we’re identical twins. Knowing that, it may surprise you to find out he’s pretty much a Republican. He’s in business. His business deals with a lot of military and ex-military people. Both groups are mostly pro-Republican.

Anyway, while trying to make small talk, we got started on politics. He gave me the same Republican talking points that I’ve been getting from all my Republican friends -- Barney Frank and Bill Clinton sealed our fate in 1999, mark-to-market, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac making bad loans, etc., etc. I mentioned “Starve the Beast”. I was surprised he hadn’t heard of the phrase.

That is when it hit me that I really am retired. I actually have time to look some of this stuff up. Most people that are working for a living don’t. They’re simply too busy. They depend on others -- the media for instance -- to do a good job and supply them with information necessary to make rational decisions.

The same thought hit me again when I saw where someone was rationalizing their candidate’s lack of experience by pointing out that Presidents are surrounded by expert advisors. That made me curious and I decided to dig into it a little. I’ll provide the links to the information I found but don’t feel compelled to click on them if you’re one of the ones that are just too busy. If you have the time, please have a look. I’d much rather you read the truth for yourself.

First, I found a press release from the McCain campaign in USA Today.

For Immediate Release

Thursday, July 12, 2007

ARLINGTON, VA - U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign today announced an impressive collection of economists, professors, and prominent conservative policy leaders who will advise the Arizona Senator as he seeks the White House.

As I read it, I kept seeing the same organizations over and over again. The American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation. Both are conservative think tanks. Let me provide you with some selected quotes from Wikipedia, highlighting what I consider to be important facts. Again, feel free to read the entire entries at Wikipedia if you have the time.

The American Enterprise Institute

”AEI (American Enterprise Institute) has emerged as one of the leading architects of the second Bush administration's public policy. More than twenty AEI alumni and current visiting scholars and fellows have served either in a Bush administration policy post or on one of the government's many panels and commissions. Former United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is a visiting scholar, and Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a senior fellow. “

(Emphasis added)

All of those names are linked on Wikipedia and I encourage you to follow as many of the links as your limited time will allow. Some names listed in various roles at AEI that are worth checking into are; Newt Gingrich, Robert Bork, John Yoo, Richard Perle and Irving Kristol.

The Heritage Foundation.

”Since the end of the Cold War, Heritage has continued to be an active voice in foreign affairs and has been generally supportive of President George W. Bush's foreign policies. “

(Emphasis added)

If you somehow think that the McCain/Palin ticket stands for change, I humbly submit that you are mistaken. The fundamental philosophy is the same. In essence, McCain has chosen the same groups to advise him that President Bush chose. He didn’t inherit them -- as Sarah Palin might -- he chose them. If you liked the last eight years -- two wars and a looming economic disaster -- you should probably vote for McCain.

You may not see the link between Blackwater and contracting out the FAA’s training. I do. As wildly different as those two subjects are they are linked by a fundamental philosophy used to make public policy -- limited government. It is that same philosophy-turned-into-policy that failed to provide the oversight at Southwest Airlines and Wall Street. And if you click on that last link, you’ll see that the policy of “ Starve the Beast” isn’t something I read just yesterday.

"Starving the beast" is a fiscal-political strategy of some American conservatives to use budget deficits via tax cuts to force future reductions in the size of government. The term "beast" refers to government and the programs it funds, particularly social programs such as welfare, Social Security, and Medicare.

The tax cuts of current US President George W. Bush's administration are a current example. He said "so we have the tax relief plan [...] that now provides a new kind -- a fiscal straightjacket for Congress. And that's good for the taxpayers, and it's incredibly positive news if you're worried about a federal government that has been growing at a dramatic pace over the past eight years and it has been."

Prior to being elected as the President, then-candidate Ronald Reagan foreshadowed the strategy during the 1980 US Presidential debates,... "

Let me sum it up for you. Since Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party strategy has been to cut funds available to the Federal Government so as to limit the size of government and limit its spending on any social programs -- programs designed to help our poorer citizens.

As I am writing this, the vote on the bailout bill is clearing the House of Representatives. With the signing of the Bill, the Federal Government will borrow over $700 billion dollars. That is $700 billion dollars to undo the damage Wall Street has done while your government was busy “limiting government” oversight of the financial industry (and everybody else.) While the hedge fund managers were busy earning billion-dollar bonuses and ruining the nation's economy, the same Federal Government -- under George W. Bush -- was giving tax cuts to the wealthy, even as the median yearly income for U.S. workers fell by $1,200. The rich got richer, you got poorer and now your government has $700 billion less to help you and your fellow citizens out in the recession ahead.

”A well-known proponent of the strategy is activist Grover Norquist who famously said “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”“

In the next thirty days, when you get your bank statement, when you get a good look at the gaping hole in your 401K, when you see the newly homeless on the street -- I hope you’ll remember the words that I’ve written. I hope you realize that it is your fellow citizens that they are starving and it is you that they are trying to drown in the bathtub.

When you go to vote on November 4th, remember who brought you this mess. If the name has an “R” next to it, think REJECT.

Don Brown
October 3, 2008

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