How Is it that the Wall Street Journal Editors Have Absolutely No Memory of the Last 8 Years?


Here's a question to ponder this morning. It's one I've been pondering for some weeks now:

Is it worth your time and effort trying to engage in rational discussions with the increasingly nutty and frantic mouth-breathers on the political right? Or are were they all genetically wired at birth to become hybrids of Grandpa Simpson and Mr. Burns?

The only reason I mention this is that last night, as is my ritual, I settled in with the Wall Street Journal for my daily recon-mission into conservative "Neverland," -- a blame-free zone where the words, "Wow, we were sure wrong about that!" are never uttered.

I was doing fine, until I reached Neverland's dark heart, the WSJ Editorial Page -- a  vortex of swirling nonsense where cocksure neo-cons rhetorically goose step in a tight clockwise circle -- much like that roiling red spot of hot gas on Venus that roils madly but never seems to move or change.

In yesterdays editorial the editors were wringing their hands over all things Obama, in particular his budget and related economic rescue spending. Here's how they ended that piece:

"Mr. Obama is more popular than is policies, and sooner or later the twain shall meet. For now, we are living in another era of unchecked liberal government. The reckoning will come when Americans discover how much it costs.”

That's when I spit my evening brandy out of my nose. I mean, really?! The sheer chutzpah of it staggers the mind of anyone not on heavy doses of anti-psychotic drugs.

Where does a sane person, one with a functioning memory, even begin?

First, these are the same people  over at the WS Journal who supported the hyper-conservative GW Bush administration. You know, the guys who left us a world economy in near-depression, two unwon wars, and ice caps melting faster than Joe Lieberman and Arlen Specter can change their spots.

So, if as the WSJ editors warn Mr. Obama faces an inevitable day of "reckoning" over his spending, shouldn't they first "reckon" with the trillions of dollars in debt their friends in the Bush administration left taxpayers holding? Shouldn't they first ask, "how much did Bush's policies cost us?”

Well, let's see. If they can't or won't do it, we can. After all we have all the receipts, and we're still getting bills for stuff we didn't even know about until now. But we can make a start:

The first thing the WSJ's friends did when they got in office eight years ago was to eat through the nation's entire supply of seed corn, stored for them by those damn liberals, the Clinton administration. When Poppa Bush handed Bill Clinton the keys to the White House he also handed him a $290 billion deficit.

Eight years later, when Bill Clinton handed the keys to Sonny Bush he hande him a $231 billion budget surplus -- the greatest surplus in U.S. History.

Not only did those damn Clinton liberals manage a budget surplus but were at the same time able to pay down the national debt by a staggering 2.4 trillion.

Within two years the budget surpluses were gone, and the national debt was on it's way back up as the Bushies began borrowing again to make ends meet. By the time they left office they'd add another $5 trillion to the national debt.

Then, once the seed corn was gone, the Bushies started to borrow and spend and cut taxes too boot since, to quote Dick Cheney, "deficits don't matter." Suddenly now, the WSJ editors and their  dwindling army of dittoheads are all atwitter over "Obama's mounting deficits."

Then there's the cost of Bush-era deregulation. Those expenses all came due just as George W. Bush was hightailing it out of Dodge last January -- just in the nick of time. The full cost of failing (or just plain refusing) to police corporate America, especially the financial services sector, has already cost us trillions of dollars, and the full cost may not be known for a decade. because all those chickens haven't come home to roost yet. But they're on their way.

Not to pile on but, then there's the cost of all the environmental degradation that occurred on their watch. Instead of addressing the mounting evidence they took a page from Big Tobacco's playbook, first using phony science  to deny global warming was even happening. Then, once it became impossible to deny it any longer, they changed their argument to "Sure, but there's no proof than human activities have anything to do with global warming." It was an argument designed to preclude even trying to do anything about global warming, and it worked. (Unfortunately we can't sue them like we did Big Tobacco.)

Then there's the war in Iraq. That little mistake cost us $12 billion a month for more than five of Bush's eight years in office -- in all nearly a trillion bucks down a sandy rat hole, and counting.

In Afghanistan they spent a small fortune unseating the Taliban and trying to kill or capture the actual people who planned the 9-11 attacks. On the very verge of success though the Bushies lost interest,  turning their attention to Iraq before they achieved those goals in Afghanistan. In the end all the billions of dollars, (and hundreds of  US soldier's lives) spent in Afghanistan achieved nothing. All they did was  allow the Taliban and al Qaida to infect neighboring Pakistan, regroup and re-engage in Afghanistan, where they now control most of the country once again. Hundreds of billions of dollars down the drain there too, and also, still counting.

All that money the Bush administration spent, wasted, misappropriated, and, in the end, what did we get for those trillions? Well, we  got partial ownership of Iraq, full ownership of Afghanistan, and a growing ownership share in nuclear-armed, Taliban/al Qaida infested Pakistan.

Such a deal. Yet during all that no one at the WSJ predicted  Bush would "face a day of reckoning when Americans found out how much it all cost."

Obama's spending is also at historic highs. But there's "spending" and there's "spending." Governments, just as households, face two kinds of spending decisions: discretionary spending and capital-investment spending.

Discretionary spending satisfies the "I may not need it but I want it” reflex. Capital spending is money invested in things that promise to generate a return over time. Home improvements, are good example of household capital spending as they increase the value of a family's main asset, their home. That big screen TV, on the other hand, is discretionary spending.

The Bushies did very little capital investing and a whole lot of discretionary spending. For example:

Obama  is investing in education, because it's going to be educated, uneducated or mis-educated, children who will shape America's future. And  right now our schools are turning out an demonstrably inferior product.

Obama is investing in emerging technologies that hold the promise that someday will free us from the nut-hold of those smarmy phony Saudi "Princes." And, will begin the process of cleaning up the environment, before the environment decides to do the job herself  -- by getting rid of us.

Obama is restructuring the tax code, so that those who actually go to work, and actually provide services or real producing stuff real people really need, get to keep more of what they make.

That's the opposite of what the Bush administration did when they funneled tax breaks to those who already were doing just fine, thank you very much, while producing little more than paper, much of which has turned out to be so worthless you can't even pay anyone to take off our hands.

I won't belabor the point. But for the WSJ editors to posit that voters will soon be aghast at the cost of Obama's policies, couldn't go unnoticed. Because they sure didn't notice the ruinousness policies of the Bush administration when they could have, and when they should have.

And finally, of all people on earth who should know the difference between out of control discretionary spending, and wise capital spending, it should be the guys and gals running the newspaper a friend of mine refers to as "capitalism's racing form."  

But of course, the do know the difference. But they are to mainstream American politics what the Taliban are to mainstream Islam: not just wrong, but crazy-wrong.

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