There's a group of people wielding short-term solutions that exacerate the long-term problems they're applied to. These people disgust me and scare me.
Iraq is one of these, sure. The "flypaper strategy" of waging a war to keep all the terrorists over _there_ so they don't attack us over here. This is stupid. If I find ants in my house I don't pour sugar on the anthill in the back yard to keep them all busy outside. You wind up with more ants if you do that. Why isn't this obvious to more people?
Then there's running up the national debt to "stimulate the economy". Yeah it's disgusting that they're laundering and pocketing huge sums in the process (Haliburton is just the incompetently obvious tip of the iceberg). But that's not what upsets me. They're mortgaging the country to China.
Who did you think was buying all those treasury bonds to finance the national debt? China. They could bring our government to a halt at any time by simply refusing to buy any more bonds next year. Interest rates have remained artificially low while they poured money into the system, because the T-bill auctions don't have to offer a higher rate of return when China is willing to loan money to us cheap. But what China is getting for it is trillions of dollars worth of control.
Everybody was so worried fifteen years ago about Japan buying so much real estate, even though what Japan was doing was stupid and hurt them badly when the real estate bubble they created popped. The money from our trade deficit with Japan was used to buy more and more of a finite quantity of american real estate at ever-increacing prices, and then they had to sell it again at 1/3 the price later to pay off the mortgages when the bubble burst. Good try, but no.
But nobody's paying any attention to China. Nobody asks who the national debt is owed to. That trade deficit money is loaned back to us, and we pay interest on it. And when China stops feeding our greedy government money and interest rates skyrocket as the T-bill auctioneers looking for more buyers, every dollar China's loaned us benefits from the higher rate of return.
But of course, for right now, they're our friends. Until they decide they're ready to be a superpower, they want a bigger share of world oil and trade, they don't like our human rights carping, and so on. If we try to do anything about it, all they have to do is call in their loans...
But enough about China. To stay in power the republicans happily install Diebold voting machines in 30 states. How our electoral process actually works is now a proprietary trade secret. This wouldn't be so frightening if it wasn't from a company whose CEO held a $10,000/plate republican fundraiser in his house last year, and publicly promised to deliver the state of Ohio to Bush. These electronic voting machines produce no audit trail, and get their databases blanked after the voting totals are certified. Short term, they stay in power. Long term, are we still a democracy?
It helps that these septegenarians are courting the Baby Boomers, many of whom seem to expect those younger than them to clean up the mess. But this is nothing new. Social security was looted and the trust fund spent back under Regan, but nobody cared as long as the checks kept coming. Social Security taxes have gone directly into social security checks to the elderly ever since, with the original savings plan nature of the thing gutted exactly the same way Enron used their corporate retirement plan to prop up their stock price long enough for the executives to cash out, leaving the employees penniless. Right now a big chunk of my paycheck goes to pay senior citizens, through a system that will not be there for me. I wouldn't mind so much if it was honest about it, or if that was the extent of the problem. But it's not stable: in ten years the baby boomers will be in their 60's, elligible for benefits, and the system can't cope. Under Regan the problem was twenty or thirty years away, forever in political terms. But ten years is not that long a time from now, and after this presidential term it'll takes some pretty frantic handwaving to distract from it.
The pattern continues for all the other hard problems, like health care. Remember Hillary Clinton's big health care reform thing? Widely criticized, sure. But they were trying to address the problem. (Failing, but trying.) Under clinton, the deficit went down, under both a democratic congress (the first two years) and a republican congress (the last six). Bush has a republican congress, and the deficit has never been higher. Short term solutions to long term problems. That's the pattern that creeps me out.
Bush, of course, doesn't comprehend any of this. It's beyond his understanding. This is the guy who said Kerry's tendency to learn from experience and thus change his mind in response to new information was "waffling". Bush never changes his mind, because he never learns anything. During the 2000 election all his supporters kept saying "sure he's an idiot, but he's got great advisors". Yeah, his father's advisors, who are greedy arogant self-interested and in their seventies. They don't worry about what's going to happen in twenty years because they expect to be dead of old age. They're going for money and power now. Bush himself probably can't think very far past lunch.
My fervent hope is that after this term, the septegenarian squad cash out and bog off to bermuda or switzerland or something to spend their ill-gotten gains, and let the rest of the country try to clean up and recover before things get any worse. But there's two problems. First, pigs at the trough like them don't leave before they keel over, any more than an alcoholic knows when it's time to stop drinking. And secondly, all the messes they've swept under the rug mean they're riding a tiger. Bad things will happen to them if they get off.
We also know they won't go away because they didn't stay away after the first Bush administration. The Savings and Loan crisis on the first Bush's watch wasn't enough. (And yes that was Bush's cronies profiting from it; Neil Bush wasn't alone, he was just stupid enough to get caught. The plan was to bail out the empty shell of the company after you've left. You don't stick around for the bailout, you take the money and run.) But they had to come back for the whole new series of Worldcom/Enron bailouts.
They're not just after money (although they're after buckets of that). They're after power. And power fades when you take your hands off the reigns...