Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 4:11 PM on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Citizens better stand up against tyranny of 'Weird Math'



By Tim O'Leary

Did you catch what Herman Cain said the other week after not knowing what went down in Libya? He bestowed us with this insight: "We need a leader, not a reader."

To too many Republicans, Cain's statement is purely profound.

To me, as a natural born anthropologist, Cain's statement goes a long, long way to explaining how President George W. Bush, operating mostly on his gut instincts, and the Republicans in Congress got us to where we are today, so-so horribly stuck under the weight of intractable war and a $15 trillion and growing and growing and growing beyond all cosmic proportion debt.

For, to be sure, it's not just a reading and, therefore, an historical comprehension problem they have, but it extends to their peculiar take on numbers — how they manage to twist them. What we natural born anthropologists call their Weird Math. Vice President Dick Cheney elucidated this best when, back in 2002, he proudly boasted as high achievement: "Ronald Reagan proved deficits don't matter."

Today, of course, Republicans, using their curious version of the sliding scale, have adjusted their position a bit, scooching blame for today's deficit over on to their favorite foil "tax and spend libs." Cheney's past words just don't seem to spark any kind of reflective synapse in them.

Again, for far too many Republicans, especially when it comes to apportioning responsibility for today's economic mess, history and numbers simply don't strike a factual bell. To listen to them rationalize away ownership of the policy of the Ownership Society, which eventuated into the Great American Real Estate Bust that brought our economy to its knees, is a pure anthropological wonder to behold. Especially when it was President George W. Bush, himself, who so vigorously promoted it and it was Republicans, themselves, who held the majority in both houses of Congress between 2002 and 2006 — right in the midst of the Ownership Society skyrocketing into unheard of pie-in-the-sky dimensions. And, now, for it to come to light that Newt Gingrich for more than nine years, beginning in 1999, was paid well more than a million and a half bucks as a lobbyist for Freddy Mac, begs the question just who do you think influenced the Republican Congress the most — Democratic Rep. Barney Franks or Newt Gingrich?

Anyway, anybody remember Captain Joe Hazelwood?

Unlike hapless Captain Joe Hazelwood, there's no notion of responsibility with Republicans when it comes to having steered the ship of state onto the rocks. Where the buck stops for them always exempts them of shame. It's something else how, collectively, Republicans spurn and spin the hard cold facts of reality so that they never face them. In a certain, interesting way, anthropologically speaking, they're not too different than mind-controlled Commies of yore.

And today, by the pure power of group think, the Prime Thinker for the group of Republicans on the Super Committee on Deficit Reduction, Grover Norquist, is keeping the nation straight-jacketed in Bush-era tax cuts that added another $3 trillion to the national debt over the course of the Bush administration and is, today, exponentially widening our deficit. To cover the staggering shortfall we are today as a nation borrowing 40 cents of every $1 we spend.

In interest alone that's costing us two-fifths of a trillion annually.

For some perspective, that amounts to $800 billion in interest every two years. Remember, from George Washington to Jimmy Carter, spanning 192 years, the entire national deficit — which, of course, included the so-called socialist New Deal and Great Society on top of the double digit inflation of the 1970s — was somewhat more than $900 billion.

Think about that. Remember, old Grover, albeit having this kind of impact on us, is not even an elected official, much less a member of the super-committee. Yet, somehow, he possesses the extra-sensory ability to steer Republicans in Congress with their pledge to him not to raise taxes.

Realize revenue today is the lowest it's been in 60 years. Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called the debt threat our most serious national security threat.

On that note, on the Jefferson Memorial are found these words of Jefferson's: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Today the tyranny of Weird Math is upon us. We better intellectually buck up to the occasion, lest some day, sooner than later, we will be reading on, say, the Tea Party Palace in Washington: "I'm a leader not a reader."

Tim O'Leary is a longtime Homer resident and political observer.

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