THIEVES IN THE TEMPLE

The corroding of government and the Obama panacea.

 

            

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me, heal me, heal me.

Chorus: Listening to you I get the music.
Gazing at you I get the heat.
Following you I climb the mountain.
I get excitement at your feet!
Right behind you I see the millions.
On you I see the glory.
From you I get opinions.
From you I get the story.
Listening to you I get the music.
Gazing at you I get the heat.
Following you I climb the mountain.
I get excitement at your feet! ©The Who

A savior appears on the horizon

Hope and change.

Taken alone these words have infinite connotations, and are thus reduced to perfect banality by the plethora of readings they may elicit. These words were the leitmotif of a political campaign that captured the zeitgeist and entranced the global media elite whilst offering vague and vacuous bromides by the truckload. That such platitudes – exhortations that could have been taken from the nascent campaign of a secondary-school student for class representative – were not dismissed as so much amateurish and gaseous piffle by the gatekeepers of public opinion indicates the desperately barren ground upon which we tread in our present political discourse. Yet these words meant the world to many, and demonstrate, perhaps, how much the United States of America – nearing the end of the first decade of the new century – yearned for transcendence, optimism, and inspiration.

The media showcased these words, along with the even more blatantly hackneyed phrase “yes we can”, as the touchstones of a new era, and invested their influence and resources in an unprecedented manner in order to help the man who chanted them ad nauseam win office. Never in the history of American political campaigns was the press so invested in the defeat of one political party at the hands of its rival. The vast majority of the mainstream press, both national and international, became a veritable 5th column in the American presidential campaign of 2008 – they became the official propaganda arm of the Democratic Party in general and the Obama campaign in particular.

The superficiality and toxic bias that the Liberal mainstream media brazenly displays, presents as journalism, and pushes daily upon the indoctrinated, sound bite-sated, dumbed-down multitudes was never in more ignominious display than during this presidential campaign. The sycophancy of the mainstream press’s Obama-worship was made manifest in fawning editorials, hagiographic articles, and beatific glossy magazine cover photographs. Throughout the media spectrum the frenzy was palpable – at niche-cable channel MSNBC the Chris Mathews / Keith Olbermann tag-team of on-air Liberal attack-doggies went rabid in their near-erotic obsequiousness for the Chosen One. His every word was wisdom.  His every deed was statecraft.

Orwellian concepts like Groupthink and Doublespeak come to mind. A cult of personality was born.

And they won a glorious victory. And the world rejoiced. A new global leader was created from the mud and slime of the American political swamp, and the world watched expectantly as he marched inexorably to his destiny - to save America from damnation and decline. This man was all things to all people – a veritable human Rorschach test. Every person with darker pigmentation took him as one of them, the light-skinned admirers welcomed him as the absolution of White Man’s guilt, and the rest of the world welcomed him as the return to sanity and reason in the position of the most powerful man in the world.

Obama became The Great Redeemer. Everyone’s hope, grievances and aspirations were projected upon him. His oratory soared and carried the believers to enraptured elation. The details did not matter. His past socio-political connections were irrelevant. His lack of achievement and experience were immaterial. His intelligence was keen and his intentions were pure and noble. The soliloquies were trite, but the presentation was inspiring and the mood uplifting. That is what mattered. The platitudes, as hollow as they were, united the disparate masses and brought them to an almost spiritual excitation as his worshipers fervently chanted with him, “Yes we can...yes we can...”. And they believed and found their purpose in the rapture for the new Savior. His words took flight and transported an entire nation to a new era. The media told us so.

And now what?

Ch-Ch-Changes...

The international press – the chronicler and custodian of anti-Americanism - declare that we are all Americans, and that Barack Hussein Obama is the President of the World. The pathological hatred of everything Bush – much of it exported abroad by the American mainstream media (i.e. the grey and tattered lady, the New York Times, and all the servile publications and media outlets that parrot its fatuous, pseudo-urbane lefty agitprop) – has passed its apogee and will now recede into the mists of history. Rebirth is in the air. What follows the benighted Bush era will be something totally apart from politics, we are told. A phenomenon has been delivered and he will sweep the carcass of what Norman Mailer once described as Washington D.C.’s “deadening verbiage” – along with many of its dishonorable traditions – into the dustbin.

The Manichaean world of the Bush years will be replaced with the Rousseauan relativism, multi-culturalism, and tolerance of the new epoch. "If America does not lead the cause of freedom," Bush warned in his final address, "that cause will not be led." The Obama regime will attempt to redefine what “lead” and “cause of freedom” mean to an overextended, reluctant superpower and the world beyond its shores. Profound changes are expected. The believers and their media acolytes have demanded as much. The U.S. will use "smart power" diplomacy (as opposed to Bushian “dumb power”, i.e. unilateralism) and seek communal solutions to combat global threats. It takes a village...just ask the new Secretary of State.

This transformation – from a towering, teetering superpower to a comradely and gracious member of the global community – will be expedited by the fact that the U.S. is stone broke. Bankrupt. For the last decade the mainstream press has breathlessly cheered the gluttonous culture of consumerism and debt-based self-indulgence. After the sobering events of 2008 the lockstep lemmings of the media elite now gleefully report the Death of Capitalism. Money, whether in abundance or in scarcity, always makes good print.

Capitalism’s obituary is appended daily – hourly, it seems, in the European media – and the sense of Schadenfreude is palpable. Abroad, the Robber Capitalists and their Anglo-Saxon locust hordes have been humiliated into abasement and irrelevance...or so it is reported. In the U.S. Arianna Huffington, La-La-land Leftist doyenne and co-founder of the über-left-wing Huffington Post, wrote that capitalism, “a monumental failure in practice,” should be “as dead as Soviet Communism” as an ideology. On National Public Radio, fossilized Liberal blowhorn Daniel Schorr pronounced “the death of a doctrine” in his year-end review. Obama has intoned his views that his version of America will have “economic fairness” and “social justice”. These are code words for a kind of European-style Socialism-Lite, and music to the ears of the victimized, disenfranchised, and downtrodden masses that make up Obama’s core constituency.

Nevermind the fact that the U.S. does not have free markets – in credit or anything else. What the U.S does have – along with the vast majority of the developed world – is a highly regulated pseudo-capitalist system where the price of short-term credit is fixed by faceless central banks. It would only be by improbable happenstance that a central bank would set the price of short-term credit at the exact level that a free market would. What we are now experiencing is the economic and financial market fallout from media-darling and erstwhile deity ex-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s intervention with the free market. His adherents abroad and successors at the U.S. Federal Reserve merely amplified the idiocy of his policies, spread the manure in the global marketplace, and now we’re all command-economy Socialists. Everyone grab the pitchforks, the sacks of fertilizer, and jump onto the diesel-belching trucks...we’re off to Maggie’s collective (organic) farm.

In a true free market, risk-takers are penalized for bad bets. They lose their shirts. Not so in the current crisis, where financial institutions – with the exception of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns and a few other unlucky castaways – are deemed too big to fail and pumped back to life with fiscal steroids, and thus rescued, merged or recapitalized. The game is rigged and the taxpayer is reamed. The profits from this crap shoot were privatized for decades – carted off to private accounts and used to purchase fabulous estates, penthouse apartments, sleek machines, and all manner of shiny, whizzbang doodads as the Masters of the Universe lorded over the rest of the peon classes (even the middle-management in this putrid power pyramid carted away enough to indulge in country homes, German SUV’s, and city Pied-à-terre) – but when the bill for the party came due the debts were nationalized. As is always the case when access to money is unconstrained, regulation non-enforced, and the Players know Big Brother will cover their rumps, (moral hazard, anyone?) when the lights go out Joe Taxpayer – the dupe who played by the rules and went to bed early while the celebration was flambéing – wakes up with the tab between his cheeks.

Welcome to Capitalism, early 21st Century-style.

The U.S. government led the way in this whorehouse fête run amok. Not only did the Fed stoke the fires with insidiously low interest rates, and the Treasury pump out fiat currency (i.e. free money) like a sausage factory gone bonkers – but “government sponsored enterprises” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s generous campaign contributions (actually, bribes) encouraged Congress to look the other way as the two housing finance agencies used their implicit government guarantee to increase their leverage and buy more high-risk speculative mortgages. The Bush administration tried feebly to rein in these rampaging, out of control agencies, but the entire system was a party gone out of bounds and doorkeepers like Democrat Party stalwarts Representative Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd barred the entrance. When the bacchanalia turned into a funeral these party hacks washed their hands and walked out the back door to their respective press-conferences, leaving the revelers spread-eagle on the skuzzy-floor and the rest of the U.S. taxpayers reaching for the mops to wipe up the mess. Après moi le deluge, indeed.

Now, I don’t mind Representative Frank turning his own home into a bordello – a dubious art in which he is well-practiced – but his enabling of U.S. government sponsored enterprises to do the same with their authorizations would seem an indulgence too far. But not for a charter member of the U.S. Congress. Long-standing members of that august body, both Republicans and Democrats – there are no innocents here – have turned the art of legislative skulduggery into a profitable science.

The revenge of the Lilliputians

The dirty little secret of American politics circa 2006-2008 was that the Democratic-led Congress – the legislative governmental body that runs the day to day business of the country – had approval ratings lower than the reviled George W.Bush. Imagine that. Very few media outlets highlighted this fact during the election cycle...it would have simply upset the orthodoxy that the Executive Branch (i.e. Bush and his cronies) had brought the most powerful nation on earth to its knees , when in actual fact the Congress, lawmaking from the Capitol Dome, had been a primary actor in the deed. But nary was a word of this disclosed, and the Democrats actually increased their margin of seats in both legislative houses. A neat trick. With their useful idiots in the mainstream press running interference – and their worn-out Republican rivals imitating Evel Knievel jumping a canyon and spectacularly self-immolating – the Democratic Party rampaged to a decisive victory.

And what is the upshot?

A political landscape dominated by imperious party toadies like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Charles Rangel, Rahm Emanuel, Chuck Schumer, Barney Frank, John Conyers, John Kerry, Robert Byrd, John Dingell, Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd, Bill Haas, Evan Bayh, John Corzine...not to mention Vice President/President of the Senate Joseph Biden...a veritable Murderer’s Row of reptilian, self-promoting grifters, plagiarists, and defrauders.

Want more? Meet "America's Least Popular Governor" and expert practitioner of "the Chicago way", Illinois’ Milorad "Rod" Blagojevich, he of the multiple federal investigations, historically low approval ratings, and the "pay-to-play" schemes. And then there is New Mexico Governor, erstwhile Commerce-Secretary nominee, and one-time Vice Presidential hopeful Bill Richardson – the Democratic Party’s Latino poster boy until his own “pay to play” scheme forced him to face a federal grand jury investigation for possible violations in the awarding of a lucrative state contract to an out-of-state company that gave campaign contributions to his political action committee. There is also former Deputy Attorney General of the United States and nominee for Attorney General Eric Holder, under investigation for the involvement with the Marc Rich and Puerto Rican terrorist pardons as well as the Elian Gonzales affair.

The list goes on...

•    New York Congressman Charlie Rangel, investigated for failing to report rental income or pay taxes on a beach rental property in the Caribbean, also allegedly living in multiple rent-subsidized apartments in New York City while claiming his Washington, DC home as his primary residence for tax purposes.

•   Detroit Mayor and “Thug Life” practitioner Kwame Kilpatrick, incarcerated after 2 terms that were plagued with controversies including allegations of marital infidelity, conspiracy, perjury, and murder(!). Kilpatrick is the only mayor in the history of Detroit to be charged with a felony while in office. An impressive achievement.

•    New York Governor, righteous corruption-fighter, Emperor’s Club VIP, and high-end-prostitute-aficionado Eliot Spitzer, exposed and disgraced for serially patronizing high-priced call-girls. According to published reports, investigators believe Spitzer paid up to $80,000 for prostitutes over a period of several years while he was Attorney General, and later as Governor. As a footnote, on his first day in office, Spitzer’s replacement, David Paterson, was forced to reveal that he and his wife have had numerous affairs during their marriage and had to assure the public that no government money was used for the hotel rooms. Shortly thereafter the new governor lost his chief of staff to a bizarre tax scandal.

•    Louisiana Congressman William Jennings "refrigerate your cash" Jefferson, indicted by a federal grand jury on sixteen charges related to rampant corruption. Among the myriad imbroglios Congressman Jefferson participated in, the most infamous took place in 2005, when FBI agents raided Jefferson's home in Northeast Washington and found $90,000 cash in the freezer wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed inside frozen-food containers. Serial numbers found on the currency in the freezer matched serial numbers of funds given by the FBI to their informant.

•    Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, indicted on twelve felony counts, including perjury, theft, and misconduct in office. The Baltimore Democrat is accused of accepting illegal gifts during her time as Mayor and City Council president, including travel, fur coats and gift cards intended for the poor that she allegedly used instead for a holiday shopping spree...her unique attempt at personally keeping the local economy humming.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Democratic Party!

This is not a gang that inspires the flames of American Exceptionalism. They are mostly Lilliputians. Penny-ante chiselers, small-minded crooks, and extortionists. Will the Republic survive? Surely...it survived the embezzlers, incompetents and felons of the last several Republican Congresses, but it is safe to say that the Founding Fathers had hoped for a better breed of citizen-politician than what is on display here. The incoming Democratic Congress will be empowered with saving the U.S. from fiscal ruination...which is like hiring the unrepentant arsonists to put out the fire they helped set aflame.

And on top of this debased food chain appears President Barack Obama – a man we are led to believe arose immaculately from the fetid cesspool that is Illinois machine politics. If politics are a swampland of ego, hubris, and corruption, then Chicago, Illinois is a wellspring for the slime that oozes forth. The breed of reptile bred and borne from this slough is formidable. Names like Daley, Rostenkowski, Rizko, Reynolds, Ryan, Blagojevich keep alive the long tradition of graft and political depravity that dot this blighted landscape – Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, Aldermen all...and all have either been incarcerated, are fighting incarceration, or will be incarcerated. All spawned from the malodorous pool that the new President ascended from. He has somehow miraculously escaped this blight. The media has told us so.

The Recycled Presidency

Added to this cast of calamitous characters is Obama’s new Cabinet, a team filled with perennial ethically-challenged D.C. insiders like Hillary Clinton – whose husband has been feverishly collecting payments from despots, tyrants and other shady petro-trash since he was forced from office by the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – and former Clinton Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs Timothy Geithner (recently under investigation for non-payment of taxes), as well as recycled retreads, like former Sen. Tom Daschle (a man who elegantly exemplifies the meaning of the term Limousine Liberal and has been disgracefully expunged from further consideration due to tax fraud and "forgetting" to pay taxes on round-the-clock limousine service provided by a wealthy sponsor), former Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, former Clinton administration U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, (are you detecting a pattern here?), and former Clinton Senior Adviser Rahm Emanuel. The choice of Hillary Clinton as Obama’s Secretary of State was a particularly Sun-Tzuian inspiration, embodying the aphorism “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”, but there are odds-makers in Las Vegas that are laying points on this particular relationship coming back and taking a chunk out of Obama’s taut buttocks.

Indeed, if this is what President Obama meant with his oath to usher in “change you can believe in” he is going to have a lot of explaining to do to his legions of puzzled followers. Since his victory in November 2008 Obama has experienced the opprobrium of disgruntled constituencies whose idea of a new type of presidency he has systematically disenchanted. Left-wing activists have bitterly lamented Obama’s turning to so many regular D.C. careerists — basically reprocessed Clinton-era insiders and long-term Democratic Party lackeys, with a few tried and true Republicans thrown in — to fill his cabinet posts, rather than searching for fresh, ambitious new faces who have yet to be corrupted by the Washington D.C. power structure.

The fringe Leftist cultural warriors who advocate for identity-politics quotas within the new administration will definitely have contentious opinions regarding the level of “diversity” in the new Obama team. There must surely be a post available for a transgender candidate somewhere in the vast bureaucracy that Obama will have to populate.

What many in his coalition of the aggrieved will come to realize is that the Obama administration will usher in a change in ‘tone’, and perhaps a change in ‘tactics’, but many of the hated Bush strategies – especially in the international realm – will likely remain in place or at best cosmetically modified. This will be a bitter pill to swallow. It is clear the transition from campaigning to actually governing will be jolting to many in the Obama team, but his enablers and adulators in academia, the media, and the performing arts will do what they can to smooth out the rough patches and clear the way for a successful term in office.

In the meantime the overindulgent and self-congratulatory Obama-euphoria will reach a crescendo as the Bono/Bruce Springsteen/Alec Baldwin/Madonna/Gwyneth Paltrow/Sean Penn/Oprah Winfrey/Rosie O’Donnell school of self-important, half-wit thespians, television presenters, and baton twirlers – advocates that think just because they came up with a hit record in their garage or are lucky enough to have an audience that they are experts on political issues and the world needs to hear their opinions – will continue abusing the privilege of having an audience to expound on their politics. The mainstream press, academia, and the entertainment industry will share in a communal Obamagasm. The multitudes will ride the wave of elation and hope-mongering and nod approvingly...the Dope Show will roll on. For a while, at least.

The man is selling hope and the people they’s buyin’ it.

Into The Wilderness

What can the Republican Party do about this? Nothing. They’ve blown it. They have to bend over, grab the ankles, and watch the new Lilliputians run the farm. The Republican Party is in smithereens and the brand itself is a grubby, begrimed entity. Bush’s second term has been a fiasco of such magnificent proportions that its half-life might take a decade to decontaminate. There have been some resounding victories and even astounding comebacks — the fact that the U.S. has not suffered any attacks on home soil, the “surge” in Iraq snatching victory from the jaws of defeat — but these achievements have been so willfully downplayed by the media in their advocacy for a Republican Waterloo that they seem almost trivialized.

The rest of the socio-economic and political landscape that Bush leaves behind — record budget deficits, a tottering economy, wars costing half a trillion dollars — looks like Dresden circa 1945. That history might look upon him in a kinder fashion than current judgment is irrelevant at the moment. Tom Davis, a former House GOP leader, put it succinctly when describing the destruction to the Republican brand that the Bush years wreaked, "He's just killed the Republican brand. If we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf." The shit has hit the fan.

What is the tally? Under W the Republicans have plummeted to minority status. They lost the '08 presidential race by 10 million votes, the party's widest losing margin since Shindig! graced the airwaves (circa 1964). Since 2004 Republicans have lost 54 House seats and 13 Senate seats — make it 14, since professional gag writer and fervent Liberal Democrat Al Franken will probably survive the GOP court challenges to his pilfered victory in Minnesota.

According to 2004 exit polls, the electorate in that election was equally split between Democrats and Republicans. In 2008, Democratic voters had a seven-point edge. According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center the party-identification gap is now at 10 points, favoring the Democrats. How could this electoral cataclysm have happened?

Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” was nothing more than big-government Liberalism with a Texas twang and a different label. Bush spent the public treasure like a plastered sailor in a Bangkok brothel and whilst collaborating with the GOP-led Congress never vetoed one spending bill. This visceral and complete betrayal of the conservative principles that propelled the Republican Party to the apogee of power has left party members disgusted and bitter, and independents running for the exits. Incompetence has consequences.

To think back to the clear, frothy days of 1994, when the Republican Revolution triumphed and the Contract With America was promise to clean out the Augean Stables of Washington D.C. putrescence, the bugle call to a new epoch in American politics, and then to look at what the Republican Party did with the patrimony and trust that the American electorate bequeathed upon them, is to view first-hand the insidiously seductive, narcotic-like power – a kind of moral Kryptonite — that Washington D.C. exerts on its denizens. It weakens and corrupts even the best-intentioned, and turns the vast majority of the innocents into shameless, corneous whores.

Not that there are many innocents to begin with. Characters like Congressman Tom “The Hammer” DeLay, “superlobbyist” Jack Abramoff, gay-sex-scandal superstars Rep. Mark Foley and Senator Larry Craig — both eager foot soldiers (no pun intended) in the Republican culture wars — Rep. Bob Ney, Senator Ted Stevens...the list goes on...gravely crippled the GOP's image as the defender of “traditional values” and the rule of law. These louche protagonists were hardly the kind of actors the populace had hoped for when they swept the conservatives into office back in the mid-1990’s. The fact that the Bush administration was botching the Iraq occupation and racking up budget deficits that would have made Louis XIV buckle at the knees surely did not help the Republican brand, but add to that noxious cocktail the ingrained enmity that the Liberal elite media grandees feel for the conservative  (and in this particular case, so-called "neo-conservative") ideology and the recipe for a grand disaster was elegantly pre-programmed. The mishandling of Hurricane Katharina was simply the juicy cherry upon the rancid, steaming dung pie.

The Republican Party, having experienced the longest conservative political ascendancy in U.S. history, now finds itself in total disconnect from the Zeitgeist. The splintered ideological factions that dominate the party — the pro-business, anti-tax faction, the foreign-policy neo-conservatives, the Rockefeller “moderates”, the Libertarians, and the religious right — are increasingly irate at each other. The leadership is atrophied.

At the start of the Republican climb to supremacy the party had the fortune to have a politico with the sheer charisma and communication skills of Ronald Reagan, and his gravitational pull drew in all the disparate factions and created a conservative critical mass that would come to dominate Washington D.C. But his successors at the presidential level were increasingly inarticulate, and by the end of this period of domination the Republican brand had the semantically-inelegant, syntactically-challenged George W. Bush on the bully pulpit, and as his terms in office drew on his distance from the electorate grew — at times, late in his second term, he seemed almost invisible. The incredible shrinking President. As the world went from one financial catastrophe to the next he seemed to diminish daily...nearly irrelevant, trivialized...the tail-end of a bad dream. By the end of his term in office the electorate — and much of his own party — had simply shut him off. He slid out of Washington D.C. almost unnoticed.

Atlas shrugged

By and large our current condition distills down to a lack of real confidence in authentic democracy and capitalism. We have in its stead authoritarian finance, and a shallow, cellulosic Madison-Avenue-version of democracy run by television producers, mandarins, and plutocrats who hop the public/private sector fence as their interests dictate. Devil-take-the-hindmost on the up, victimology-espousal on the down. Rent seeking on the all-around. This gutless and disingenuous mindset is a recipe for ruination.

Politicians and leaders of finance that are lacking awareness of their limitations, incapable of shame and introspection, and possessing no civic responsibility have poisoned the body politic. Bureaucratic careerists (and those wishing to become part of these governing elite) motivated by incumbency, not the greater good, dominate the elected classes. Delusional, self-aggrandizing demimondaines (aka lobbyists) imperiously rule the coop. And the band plays on while the lumpen elektoriat, indoctrinated by the salon-rebel academic class and insta-gratification Mee-TeeVee media, continue to vote for these freaks and felons, deifying them with cults of personality, dreaming of the promise of class-conscious something-for-nothing.

Their prescriptions will very soon result in an existential national crisis that will expose whether the United States of America is constituted of people who, in the main, are exceptional, or have degenerated toward the muddling mediocrity of just another Europhile social democratic nanny-state...a museum...not an enduring experiment in self-reliance, limited government and civic pride.

I'll vote for the first individual who advocates reward for success, lets failure fail, limits government but applies minimal regulation with a violent prejudice against fraud, apologia and graft, ensures equal-opportunity and doesn't conflate it with the populist chimera of equal results, and has compassion for the dispossessed without subsidizing the victimology cottage industry.

But that person has not yet appeared on the horizon.

I look out my window and peer through the raindrops at those walking by singing “yes we can” and believing that their prayers have been answered. I won’t join them — the only savior I know of doesn’t reside in Washington D.C. — but I don’t resent them. They are happy to be part of a country that inspires them again. Chanting their hopeful mantra may not really change anything, but it makes them feel better while the ship sinks. Me? As the Stones put it...

Me, I’m waiting so patiently,
Lying on the floor.
I’m just trying to do this jig-saw puzzle,
Before it rains anymore... ©Jagger/Richards


 

Alexander Ackley © 2009 for The International Chronicles

 

                       

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published this page in The Attic 2012-03-26 02:51:00 -0400