Archive for November, 2010

A Tale of Two Santas

November 13, 2010

Here comes Santa Claus. Here comes Santa Claus. Right down Fooled Again Lane.

In 1976, as we celebrated America’s Bicentennial with fashionable fun, fantastic fireworks and flag-waving frolic, Jude Wanniski coined “The Two Santa Claus Theory”, a brilliant positioning move for the Republican Party. It elected Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Mr. Wanniski was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal at the time and a devout believer in supply side economics. This is often referred to as “Trickle Down” by those who believe money accrued by the rich inevitably finds its way down to the proletariat (working) poor. Wanniski’s hero was a gentleman named Milton Friedman, who took things a bit further, stressing that government must be starved of revenue in order to curtail the growth of spending on such wasteful items as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, Workers Disability Compensation and, when all is said and done, any expenditures not associated with increasing private wealth. So it can trickle down.

Welfare — NO! Warfare? –GREAT!

But how does one sell this to the average voter? Hey, Jude!

So Jude Wanniski came up with his “Two Santa Claus” approach — and it goes like this:

Jude said that Democrats are elected because the Democratic Party is generally perceived as “Santa Claus”, providing all sorts of goodies with every new election cycle for the general well being of the American people, as mandated by Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution, hardly a Marxist document. Ask The Tea Party.

So Jude declared that the Republican Party needed to be “Santa Claus”, too, by making the electorate an offer they could not refuse. It came down to two short words — LOWER TAXES! It worked like a charm and did again — only weeks ago.

And here’s the really cool part of Wanniski’s plan — If Republicans would only keep pounding “Lower Taxes!” through the years, while increasing expenditures on things THEY liked, combined with radically lower taxes for powerful supporters (Reagan Tax Cuts 1981 and 1986) (Bush Tax Cuts 2001 and 2003), there would be an inevitable collision with an unavoidable destination — the realization of Milton Friedman’s dream — a democratic government stifled, strangled and starved. Down for the count. Turn up the Trickle.

And what was on the Conservative “like” list as taxes were toppled?

Granada (1983 — $ 50 million dollars), Panama (1989 — $155 million), Persian Gulf War (1991 — $ 102 Billion), Iraq (2003 — $ 784 Billion to date), and Afghanistan (2003 — $ 321 Billion to date).

And are we more secure with all those “dollars for defense”, especially with profit margins for war manufacturers raging as high as 90%?

As of this very year, China now has the fastest computer in the world (The Tianhe 1A –capable of 2.5 thousand trillion operations per second), the speediest train (Hexie Hao at a steady 250 miles per hour) and the deadliest long-range missile system ever developed –The Dong Feng 21D — fully capable of sinking an aircraft carrier a thousand miles away.

In the last 30 years, since the election of The Great Communicator with his powerful new message, our National Debt has soared from $ 700 billion to $ 14 trillion dollars under primarily Republican administrations. $14 trillion dollars is $ 14 thousand billion, a full $ 9 trillion of the $ 14 trillion total racked up since the Inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001.

So now we have a Presidential Panel calling for austerity measures disproportionately aimed at those who can least afford sacrifice, while a new House of Representatives stands ready to roll back hard-won measures dealing with Health and Banking Reform.

Wall Street compensation with bonuses in 2010 will hit a record of $144 billion dollars — the highest in history — with million dollar earners paying Social Security taxes only on barely 10% of their incomes.

George The Conqueror now haunts the nation on a book tour victory lap — something Barack Obama will be denied at the end of his first and only term — unless he begins to act like a Republican — leading with enthusiastic vitality — ruthlessly sticking to a defined game plan — and fighting with determined dedication and fierce conviction for what he truly believes.

Anything less is pure surrender.

“Peace on Earth — IF We Want It!”

November 8, 2010

John Lennon Tribute --Capitol Theater -- Flint, Michigan. December 9, 1980

With the 2010 November Elections mercifully behind us in a year speeding along faster than a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs, here come the Holidays and with them — treasured childhood echoes from the soundtrack of our lives.

In recent years, faced with ever increasing competitive pressures, some radio stations are beginning to feature “Christmas Music” even now, this category traditionally covering everything from religious themes (“Silent Night”, “Away in a Manger”, “Joy to the World”) — through more secular fare (“Jingle Bells”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “Feliz Navidad”) — to the sublimely ridiculous (“All I Want for Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth”) (”Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”, ) and, for California Proposition 19 fans, Cheech and Chong’s immortal (“Santa Claus and His Old Lady.”)

Each new season brings fresh candidates competing for contemporary acceptance and, hope against hope, for qualification as a true classic to be brought back time and time again with every completed 583 million mile spin around the sun at 18.5 miles per second.

Recorded in October of 1971 at Record Plant Studios in New York and released on December 6th, the Harlem Community Choir appeared on “This is Christmas”, an offering which received limited exposure due to its perceived “political nature” — consequently failing to make Billboard’s Top 100 for the month. It was considered by most programmers to be an utter failure in spite of featuring a star performer from a band already judged by many as the greatest of all time — as has become — though the years — the song itself.

December 7th of this year is “Pearl Harbor Day”, somberly recalling the 1941 attack by Imperial Japan on our American fleet at Pearl Harbor, “a date which will live in infamy” and initiated our involvement in World War Two. The following day, December 8th, 2010, marks the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. It was John, of course, who wrote and produced, “This is Christmas” — later better known as “Happy Xmas (War is Over”). You’ll be hearing it again these Holidays on almost every radio station in range across all formats. It contains a message upon which our lives and the future of our nation depends.

And it’s an invitation.

This year on “Pearl Harbor Day” — some mountain neighbors are getting together at The Grind to present — “Peace on Earth — If We Want It” — a Holiday Commemoration brought to you by the Oakhurst Democratic Forum.

For Web Readers — The Grind is on Highway 41 in Oakhurst, California.

Featured will be two exceptional short films from the 1930’s.

1939 was a rough year to be a diehard pacifist. But that’s when Hugh Harman’s “Peace On Earth” antiwar cartoon was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1994, it was voted #40 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time. It was also nominated for the 1939 Academy Award for Short Subjects, the same year “Gone With the Wind” won “Best Picture.”

“Dealers in Death” is a 1935 antiwar documentary telling the story of companies that became rich selling weapons in World War One. Many munitions companies are highlighted including Krupp, Vickers-Armstrong, Skoda, Colt and Remington. Parallels between then and now are truly terrifying.

A panel of participants including Rev. Paul Colbert, Vicar of St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church in Oakhurst, Soto Zen Priest Rev. Mary-Allen Macneil of Oakhurst, Dr. Terry Winant from the Philosophy Department at Fresno State and Basim Elkarra, Chair of the Arab/American Caucus of the California Democratic Party, will offer overview and commentary — giving peace a chance.

We hope you’ll join us.

Pearl Harbor Day — 7 PM — at The Grind.