Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Depression Danger

The U.S. is not in a depression even if it has not yet turned the corner. But we are seeing some of the things that happened in the 30s even if we are not in that awful place economically. And the worst part of this not being a depression perhaps is that the jobs that have been lost are really gone. It will be a long time before the economy produces anything like what we need in terms of jobs.

The awful stuff that is happening is the emergence of the worst sort of right-wing politicos. And the media now is much more powerful than it was then and gives these villains a bully pulpit. People forget about Father Charles E. Coughlin and Gerald L.K. Smith. And not only are we seeing their heirs--Sarah Palin, Jim Demint, Michelle Bachman, and the like. And of course Rush Limbaugh and all the little screamers on the airwaves--the real dittoheads.

Coughlin and Smith were ugly types who were plugging unvarnished anti-Semitism. They had fertile ground because of the rather genteel but still vicious form of anti-Semitism that prevailed in those days. It was accepted the way all kinds of humor at the expense of ethnic groups was. But just because we do not have this particular version now is no reason for pride.

The other day the supposedly distinguished David Broder of the Washington Post, the definition of a pundit who has outstayed his time, gushed over the rise of Sarah Palin. Broder is right that she has picked up momentum. But he totally ignores her still wildly unprepared and unsuitable character--she has no concept of the world as it is and lives in her own protected right-wing one.

Two-bit right-wing punks on radio get respectful treatment in the major media, based on the size of their audiences. Blame one of our newer citizens, by the way, Rupert Murdoch, for much of this. After rising in Australia, where his forbear had helped lower the media level, he conquered literate Britain, turning The Times (in case you did not know, despite the usage in some U.S. papers, it is not "The Times of London") into a tabloid. The sad decline of the once liberal New York Post was another casualty. Now to be sure, as the Wall Street Journal puts it, that paper could not have become more conservative editorially. But watch out for what happens to the reliability of its once-vaunted news coverage.

After the GOP as usual blew the bankroll, we now have cries of need for balanced budgets and economy. You do not have to be John Maynard Keynes to know that lowering expenditure in hard times is not the way to gin up the economy. We have not had the total housecleaning that the defunct franchise of Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, and their ilk deserve--to be bounced from the league of respected economists forever. Remember Murray Weidenbaum, the high priest of de-regulation--thank him for some part of the mess we're in.

Yes, Obama is too rational in his manner for this crowd. But the media is no reliable guide for him. They ate up the lies that got us into Iraq and, I'm sorry to say, Obama fell for some of it by his stand on staying in Afghanistan. The idea was to catch Osama--remember? We really need some people to stand up and talk sense for a change. The Dems should recall B. Franklin's wise advice that if we don't stand together, we'll all perish separately.

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