Thursday, April 6, 2006

The Yellow Dog Snarls

Posted By on Thu, Apr 6, 2006 at 5:10 PM

The Yellow Dog Snarls

Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, renowned Democratic strategist and Southern raconteur, has written a new book, together with his fellow political analyst Steve Jarding (whom Mudcat calls one of the "Dukes of Harvard"), entitled Foxes in the Henhouse: How the Republicans Stole the South and the Heartland and What the Democrats Must Do to Run 'em Out." (Touchstone 2006). The title says it all. Mudcat and Jarding take a wire brush to the Republicans and, believe it, it's not pretty. The book is dense with facts and data, and the evidence Saunders and Jarding pull together is astonishing.

They begin by running an inventory of the accomplishments of the Democratic party since the New Deal. Where would the country be, they ask, without Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, regulation of the "free market" in banking and investing, basic civil rights and voting rights, environmental protection, and a panoply of other programs, all of which were created by Democrats and, for the most part, opposed bitterly by Republicans? The Democratic party, they say, should be proud of itself.

They describe the ascendancy of the Republican party in the South as the immediate result of Democratic passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s. They say, "Racism was not only the foundation but the taproot" of Republican hegemony in the South. They point out that this basic spirit of the Republican party is still visible in the color of the faces of the abandoned victims of Katrina: remember how Barbara Bush said the abandoned ones had never had it so good living in refugee shelters instead of their own homes, or how Dennis Hastert said New Orleans should be bulldozed? And, of course, there is Trent Lott's famously frank praise for Republican Strom Thurmond's opposition to racial integration. Things haven't changed much in 50 years.

Budget deficits under the supposed "fiscal conservatives," moreover, tripled during the Reagan years as the result of big tax cuts-- something old Bush called voodoo economics. Clinton, on the other hand, erased the deficits with reasoned tax increases and spending cuts, and bequeathed his successor a budget surplus for the first time in decades. Then the new Bush, drunk on voodoo, gave away the store again with enormous pre-9/11 tax cuts for the wealthy, creating the biggest budget deficit in American history and the greatest re-distribution of wealth in American history (did someone say "class warfare?"). Bush now wants to make the tax cuts permanent while the country runs on fumes.

And then there is the mindless war in Iraq which only about 30% of Americans believe is being handled properly or should have been launched in the first place. Most people are finally beginning to understand that the war had nothing to do with 9/11, and still doesn't, despite the administration's fulminating about "the war on terror." Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, in fact, says that toppling Iraq was at the top of Bush's agenda at his very first Cabinet meeting, long before 9/11. Add to that Bush's incredible intelligence bungling, shortsightedness, and (probably) outright deceit and you've got a war with no purpose, no end in sight, and no plan for an end. Notably, as Saunders and Jarding point out, virtually all of the top-level Republicans who have sent 2,400 American soldiers to their deaths and thousands more into crippling disability (not to mention untold thousands of Iraqis) have no combat experience and know nothing of the horror of a human body being blown apart in battle. The one top Republican who did have significant combat experience-- a Viet Nam war hero-- was Colin Powell, who because of his misgivings about Bush's designs was kept out of the loop in the decision to invade Iraq and in due course left the administration.

The Mudcat will be appearing later this month at Mudcat and Cooter's Pickin' Parlor, 2613B McGavock Pike, in Nashville. Call 587-6856 or 872-8358 for details.

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