Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It’s Not About the Money.

What do the Wisconsin labor protests, the assault on Public Broadcasting and the recent criticism of Barack Obama’s decision to join the U.N. no-fly zone in Libya all have in common? All three have become part of a bold and grand strategy by Republicans to develop a new narrative of fiscal austerity and frugality. Yes, as strange as it may seem, the party that brought you record deficits, could’ve cared less about tightening their belts, and never met a war it didn’t love, is now shouting down from the highest mountain tops about how we – the country – can’t afford to waste precious taxpayer money on teachers, Big Bird and senseless killing. You are now free to roam around your bathroom and gag.

Really now, that’s the story? Seriously? Scott Walker effectively ends collective bargaining in his state; the House passes resolutions defunding PBS, and Obama gets ripped a new one for shelling Libya, and we’re suppose to believe that it’s all for our common welfare? Tough love!

Pardon me while my bile backs up. If you believe that yarn, I not only have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you but I’ve got a steal of a deal on some fresh vegetables from northern Japan.

Let me put this as directly and succinctly as possible. Claims by Republican leaders of a new-found concern over deficit spending and a love for their fellow man are sheer rubbish. The common denominator in all three of the examples listed above and others just like them all boils down to good old-fashioned ideology. Period! Money has nothing to do with it.

In Wisconsin, newly elected Scott Walker won virtually every economic concession from the unions he needed to help him balance the state budget. Ending collective bargaining did not put one single dollar back into the state’s coffers, but it did effectively put an end to a major political contributor to the 2012 Presidential election. It is well established that Labor has long been joined at the hip of the Democratic Party. Knocking them out of the picture would mean a huge gift for a Republican Party that only two years earlier was on the verge of political oblivion. Funny how things can turn on a dime. Payback is a bitch, especially in politics.

Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who, in an interview with Fox News, said the following: “If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.”

Oops! Straight from the horse’s mouth or whatever orifice he might’ve been spewing from. I guess it’s true that loose lips do sink ships, or at least give away their positions.

With respect to PBS, the amount the average taxpayer would save by defunding it would barely buy a happy meal at McDonald’s, and the GOP knows it. Cutting off funding for it means eliminating a media source that is viewed by many on the Right as left-leaning and decidedly anti-business. This despite the fact that the majority of the funding Public Broadcasting gets comes from corporate sponsors and private donations from viewers and listeners.

No matter. A narrative is a narrative, regardless of how inaccurate it is. And if your target audience – the uneducated, disenfranchised and frustrated middle class – buys into it, then all the more power to you. Facts are almost always irrelevant when it comes to these things. If you can’t bury MSNBC, then why not go after the next best thing? And what better target than a media outlet, perceived as unfriendly to your cause, receiving taxpayer dollars? Your taxpayer dollars! See how this works?

And last, but hardly least, we come to Obama’s War. Costly, irresponsible, hasty, unconstitutional. Those were some of the characterizations that Republicans were throwing out concerning President Obama’s decision to assist the United Nations enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya. No matter what your thoughts are regarding the use of American forces in yet another Middle Eastern conflict – and I for one have mixed feelings on the matter – the idea that a single Republican can even think about criticizing this president for being over zealous is comical. And yet, there they were all in unison – the batshit crazies Bachmann, Palin and Gingrich – ripping him to shreds.

Even Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the few within the GOP who has sided with Obama on many foreign policy issues, couldn’t resist piling on. “It's a strange time in which almost all of our congressional days are spent talking about budget deficits, outrageous problems and yet at the same time all of this passes.” Strange? How so, Dick? You mean strange that America is once again intervening militarily in a Middle Eastern dispute and the order to commence firing wasn’t given by a Republican? You mean that kind of strange?

Not one of these humanitarians made nary a peep when George Bush plunged us into two major conflicts within a year at the cost of nearly a trillion dollars. At most, “Obama’s War” will likely cost the taxpayer a couple of billion. Try plugging those two numbers into your calculator and tell me what you come up with.

But again, like PBS and the unions, this is not about money. It’s about ideology. Republicans love wars, so long as they’re being waged by Republican presidents, and they are primarily fought on U.S. terms. Just mentioning the United Nations in the same sentence as American troops can send conservatives into a tizzy. Remember Kosovo? You’d a thought Bill Clinton had burned a flag or something.

So remember boys and girls, whenever you hear Republicans whine about out of control spending and reckless wars, take it with a grain of salt. It’s never about the money being spent, unless, that is, they’re the one’s spending it. In that case, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. We’ve got more millionaires to enrich and soldiers to kill.

1 comment:

steve said...

It's all part of a long and grand strategy by right-wing ideologues some in the media are calling "shock doctrine," in which economic and natural disasters around the world are exploited to replace more democratic institutions with corporate-dominated ones. Despicable.