Friday, January 18, 2008

McCain states to South Carolina supporters: 'Federal spending is out of control,' misses the irony

"We're all Keynesians now."
--President Richard M. Nixon, 1971.

Florence, South Carolina
--That we are. Senator John McCain is a man who has truly lost what was left of his PTSD-addled mind. The Hanoi Hilton won. Having just authorized his most recent 'OK' vote for more-and-more spending for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan just wasn't enough for shell-shocked John McCain, that other Vietnam War hero who isn't named 'Randall Cunningham.' And he went as far as to allude to Randy in his comments to prospective South Carolina voters. Wasn't that nice? According to John McCain, Cunningham's kind of corruption won't happen 'when [he's] president.' Sure. Fine words, but does he mean it and is he even capable of achieving such lofty goals without disbanding the GOP as a national party? Face it America: it's in the DNA of the Republican Party to collude with corrupt Big Business and dirty banking, and they have no intentions of changing (and neither do many of you).

But what about his comments on federal spending? We all know that Senator McCain has been an avid supporter of the war--especially when it's going well--and has continued to vote for appropriations to continue it, alongside all his fellow incumbents currently occupying Congress (Democrats and Republicans). Back in July, there was the publicized 'Graham-McCain amendment'
to the July appropriations (H.R. 1585) for the war. Since then, it seems the president keeps asking mom for more allowance, and mom is real enabler--even when she's out of money.

The proposed amendment for longer military leaves went nowhere, which is what it was designed to do. Yet, it did give McCain that hint of possibly being on-the-side of the American public (he's not) who are still majorally against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who have even greater numbers when it comes to a possible war with Iran. We don't want one (McCain does, as well as a decades-long occupation of Iraq). The public has spoken about its disenchantment with the war, and Congress has done its best throughout 2007 and recent days in 2008 to avoid hearing it. The problem is, eventually they have to listen. The laws of physics aren't going to be suspended anytime soon.

Graham-McCain and other legislative and speech-making gambits have had another purpose, a subtext-of-sorts: to give John McCain the appearance of being against the war while he has been voting for every appropriations bill to keep it going. That makes his own politics and attempts at a mixed-message congruent with the president's wishes and agenda. This is also true of the voting records of Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, and the majority of the incumbents in Congress at this writing. Somehow, the senator came down with a case of amnesia today, forgetting he helped authorize most of the aforementioned 'overspending' he's acting so upset over:
McCain blamed overspending in part for the nation's economic troubles. "As a Republican, I stand before you embarrassed. Embarrassed that we let that spending get out of control, and it led to corruption. Now we have former members of Congress residing in prison," McCain told a town-hall style meeting at the Carolina Hospital East Campus in Florence. "If I'm president, it's going to stop." "I'm not too astonished," by the bleak news, McCain added. "We let spending get totally out of control, and it continues today, and I'm sorry to tell you this."(AP, 01.18.2007)
The honorable thing would be to resign and not run for president. The average citizen should also understand that Senator McCain has either voted for more appropriations, or been absent from voting on Iraq and several other issues. He has a 56% truancy, he doesn't show up for over half of the votes he's supposed to. A significant number of them are hot-button issues, but the most important have been plans for withdrawal from Iraq--he just doesn't want to be pinned-down on it in the public mind when the war is unpopular. I'd be embarrassed too if I were a Republican, but who's that stupid these days?

Millions, naturally, it's just they're very embarrassed to admit it in public or at parties. Of course, they should feel this way irregardless of the state of the economy at any given point in our history. In any political era, simply being a Republican is adequate criteria for self-embarrassment. But some people insist on it and revel in parading it around. McCain is just a symptom of this sense of denial among so-called conservatives, it being a clutching-at-straws of a dying ideology.

Few strident supporters of the GOP are going to get that light-bulb moment of epiphany where they finally understand that what they believe in has little objective basis in reality and that the frontier mentality might work for some, but not for the many. This is what makes the Bush administration's stimulus plan so amusing. He's arguing for what some Democrats in Congress have prodded him to do all along. Belatedly, he's only halfway getting the picture, somehow thinking that tax cuts are the panacea for everything. The world doesn't resemble the world in the minds of GOP, it requires state intervention, and not the kind that benefits the major shareholders of Lockheed or Halliburton and the rest of America's elites.

What's truly interesting in all of this is George W. Bush's momentary turning away from military Keynesianism ('barracks Keynesianism,' otherwise known as our bloated defense budget, which is similar to what the Soviets had) to a standard Keynesianism that's typified by social spending to stimulate the economy. Also interesting were Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's veiled-barbs on the 17th of January against the 2000 tax cuts for America's wealthiest, noted by the Wall Street Journal in an online op-ed:
Appearing before Congress, Mr. Bernanke told Democrats what he thought they wanted to hear. The former academic economist blessed a "fiscal stimulus package," as long as it is "explicitly temporary." How new federal spending can be "temporary," he didn't say, as if a dollar collected in taxes or borrowed and then spent can be recalled. The "temporary" line was thus a dagger aimed directly at the heart of Mr. Bush's desire to make his tax cuts permanent. The Fed chief did aver that, "Again, I'm not taking a view one way or the other on the desirability of those long-term tax cuts being made permanent." But of course refusing to endorse something is itself a point of view -- a point Democrats were already joyfully repeating yesterday. (Wall Street Journal, online edition, 01.18.2007)
The current administration confirms this--cut taxes, and give-out a $145 billion (by 6:00 PM EST it was upped to '$150 billion') rebate to American taxpayers, while retaining the 2000 tax cuts into progressive taxation that provided economic stability for the nation for more than 50 years. During those 50 years, the GOP was in the dog house, confined to being a collared opposition party that had little more than red-baiting for a political tool (and no vision, funny how things don't change--even when they change). For the Republicans, it's just more of the same 'let the working-class pay for everything' MO, and less paid by the ultra-rich. Great, what happens after everyone's spent their checks? Bernanke seems to be saying, 'I don't stand behind your 2000 tax cuts, either in principle or in reality.' Neither does most of America if you ask the right questions, but pollsters have mortgages to pay (sorry, I didn't want to mention that uncomfortable fact).

It all begs-the-question that most die-hard conservatives ask whenever one suggests social spending of almost any sort: 'Yeah, but where's it going to come from?' Coupled with the 2000 tax cuts for the rich, it's hard to imagine where any of the money for all of this is coming from. McCain was smart enough to state the obvious fact that it will only be a 'temporary fix,' but he wants to be president (he still will after January 21st, 2009). Isn't the temporary fix what the GOP is all about? It's funny how it doesn't matter with war and defense spending, it's never an issue for either party overall. Yes, where is it all going to come from?

One thing's certain: the president must be in very big trouble indeed to start throwing money he doesn't have at the public again. He's officially back to what he was before September 11th, 2001, an embattled and ineffectual joke without a plan, Dick Cheney's monkey. George W. Bush and his administration have been an unfortunate and extremist phenomena that clawed its way into office, ensuring the demise of an ideology whose time had come to die. Be careful what you wish for (too late). You have to say one thing about the president: no vision, but he can change without changing. That's quite a trick, and you'll never hear of the president calling the vice president by any nicknames.


Dueling banjos--Bernanke VS. George W. Cheney (Wall Street Journal, January 18th, 2007): http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120062129547799439.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

US Politics on 'Graham-McCain,' July 2007:
http://uspolitics.about.com/od/wariniraq/a/sen_2078_amend.htm

The AP on Senator McCain's Bloviating all over himself (and South Carolina), January, 18th, 2008:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080118/ap_on_el_pr/republicans_economy

When Johnny came marching home, he called for more defense spending (Hurrah! Huraah! McCain's defense spending record in the Senate):
http://votesmart.org/voting_category.php?can_id=53270&type=category&category=22&go.x=7&go.y=6