Bernanke, Schmernanke

The Fortnightly Rant for January 1, 2010, from The New Hampshire Gazette, Volume 254, No. 7, retroactively posted on Thursday, January 6, 2011.

When the Founding Fathers cooked up our Constitution 222 years ago in Philadelphia, they very carefully divided up the powers of government among three separate branches. They feared that otherwise too much power might fall into the hands of the diabolically clever.

They might have been worried about the wrong people. Thanks to the diligent efforts of the nation’s news media, we have learned a great deal over the past year about a sub-set of the U.S. population to whom most us us had paid scant attention. They do not believe in evolution. They do not believe that humans are responsible for climate change. And they do not believe that President Obama was born in the U.S. They believe that dinosaurs and men walked the earth simultaneously. They believe there is a war on, against Christmas. And they believe President Obama is a socialist. They are afraid that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is plotting a sinister government takeover of Medicare. They are afraid Nancy Pelosi is going to take away their guns. In fact, they are afraid of damn near everything.

If the Founding Fathers — men not easily frightened — could have foreseen the rise of the teabaggers, they might have been very afraid indeed.


This photograph was taken several years before the rise of the teabagger phenomenon, but the gentleman in it could well serve as its poster boy. On March 23, 2003, in St. Louis, MO, a protest was being held in opposition to the start of the Iraq War. Mr. “Get a Brain” here was for it.

During the eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency, the idiotic policies of his Administration were supported by the likes of this guy. What’s worse, he and others like him had every reason to believe that their support was reciprocated, at least in spirit. However ill-informed, confused, or angry they might be, at some level they felt that they had the blessing of The Man.

Their job might be outsourced to China, a swindler might talk them into a house with a time-bomb instead of a mortgage, and they might risk their life every time they ate a hamburger from a meat-packing plant that hadn’t been inspected since Ike was in the Oval Office, but deep in their hearts, they knew that if they ever dropped in on the White House, George W. would like nothing better than to sit down and have a (non-alcoholic) beer with them.

Even the news media seemed to give them some respect for a change. During the Clinton years, mainstream media reporting on the confused and ill-informed tended to focus on angry, gun-toting middle-aged men playing militia in the woods of Michigan and Idaho. With Bush in office, proto-teabaggers could go about repeating whatever random craziness they might have picked up from Rush or Glenn or Sean — or from GOP leaders — without fear of being mocked for their gullibility by Wolf or Katie: Democrats suggested today that a White House proposal to implant RFID chips in schoolchildren might erode civil liberties. On the other hand, John Boehner accused Democrats of plotting to issue “‘Get Out of Jail Free Cards’ to terrorists.”

Like all good times, though, it had to end. And it ended badly. Very badly.

It did seem for one brief shining moment that John McCain might take up Bush’s mantle. Then we could go ahead and “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran!” And after John’s ticker crapped out, Sarah Palin would be President! What could be better, except perhaps The Rapture?

Then came November 4, 2008 — and January 20, 2009. After nearly a decade as King of the Hill, with a friend of sorts in the White House and a clear picture of who the nation’s enemies are … suddenly one of them is in the White House!

It’s got to be hard, believing that a Black Muslim (or, as some prefer to spell it, “Muslin”) born in Kenya is in change of the country. In fact, it’s pretty damned hard just believing that anyone really believes that. People do believe it, though. It seems to be a special sort of skill.

If you have the knack, you can believe almost anything. This, for instance: when Bush first took the White House, the Federal Government had a budget surplus, and the national debt was $5.7 trillion dollars. But Dick “Still Dick” Cheney, the brains of the Administration, believed that “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” So by giving trillions of dollars in tax breaks to the rich, and charging a couple of wars on the nation’s MasterCard, George W. Bush ran up the biggest budget deficit to date, and added $4.1 trillion to the national debt. Now, so far none of this is much of a challenge. But believing that the reason the federal government is broke now is because Obama spent all the money — that takes a special effort.

When the 2000 Presidential campaign began, Karl Rove and the Republican National Committee already had big business, and a lot of small business people, in their pocket. When they rose to power, they did so by adding to their base; and they weren’t too particular about the raw material they used. After their drubbing at the polls in 2008, the Formerly-Grand Old Party looks like it could be about to crack up. Naturally, there are power struggles going on. Erstwhile cronies are jockeying for control of whatever assets are lying around loose. And though they’ll be the first to deny it, that includes the teabaggers. The latter have no grasp of history, or even of what’s going on right now. They do know they’ve been screwed, though. But will they turn on the ones who screwed them? Or keep doing their bidding and go after the innocent?

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