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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

November 23, 2008


Stay the (Do Nothing) Course

From time to time, I like to check out the White House's interactive website (and I use the term "interactive" loosely) "Ask the White House (http://www.whitehouse.gov/ask/20081016.html). I decided that this would be a good time to check out what President "I can't get out of here fast enough" Bush believes the nation wants to know and what is going on in the collective mind of his administration today.

As we watched over a million jobs dropped from our economy, and prepare for millions more to be lost, just who has President Bush chosen to talk about the terrible situations which now exist in our nation?

Will Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson or one of his chief deputies take the public's questions on Ask the White House? No. Instead of putting forth anyone with any kind of clout or access, I offer up this list of the last three White House staffers to take yours, mine and our questions (not in order, for effect):

October 24, 2008, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez: This was a good choice. Although Commerce isn't one of the more important Cabinet positions as it relates to today's economic crisis (although one has to wonder why it isn't), it is still associated with the economy. While Gutierrez did answer some relevant questions (within the Bush administration's non-answer guidelines, of course), the appearance appeared to be geared ore towards promoting the newest Bushco propaganda website which explains their version of the economic bailout package: www.EconomicRecovery.gov. (By the way, here is the web site's headline: Gutierrez: Open Markets are the Best Economic Stimulus. How's that for propaganda?)

November 14, 2008, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Blake L. Gottesman: Deputy Chief of Staff Sounds impressive, doesn't it? That is until you realize that Gottesman is as far down the list of staff members as you can get and is a mere 28-years old. In true Bush fashion, Gottesman was given a job because his father, Sanford Lee Gottesman, was a Bushie himself. Sanford Lee was appointed "Director (Small Business) Overseas Private Invest Corp." Needless to say, the elder Gottesman was a big contributor to all things GOP in and out of his home state of Texas over the past few years. According to www.opensecrets.org, Gottesman's contributions included $1,000 to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and $15,000 to the Republican National Committee.

Since you've gotta learn sometime, why not use nepotism and learn on Daddy's dime all the way at the top?

But here's my favorite Ask the White House staff member's appearance:
October 16, 2008, White House Grounds Superintendent Dale Haney: That's right... in the days which followed the worst financial crisis in our nation's recent history (and certainly the worst since the Great Depression), President Bush thought it best to allow those of us horticulture wonks a Q& A with the White House's head groundskeeper. Here are some of the questions offered up to Groundskeeper Willie - I mean Haney:
Do you receive input from the First Family on specific species of flowers, plants, shrubs, etc...?
Does the White House use any real field pumpkins for decoration at the White House?
What type of grass makes up the SOUTH LAWN? (SOUTH LAWN capitalized by the White House, not Madman)
How often do you fertilize, seed, and aerate the lawn at the White House?

And here's a question which sums it all up:
Mr. Haney: I'm originally from Alabama and I love to grow roses back home. However, we have a huge problem with Japanese Beetles. What do you suggest to get rid of them?

All important questions, no doubt. But, c'mon. Less than one month after the collapse is this the best the White House has to offer us?

This administration has checked out. It's just too bad that we have almost two whole months left to suffer through what we've been suffering through now for nearly eight years.

-Noah Greenberg

Save the Autos Now!

I am irked by some of the opinions I hear that we should let the auto industry fail. To start, I understand that they haven't built the most fuel efficient reliable cars in the world. There is considerable room for improvement. I think that's exactly what Obama wants to work on - partner with the auto companies to build an efficient, reliable product. I am confident that it can be done right here in the United States.

This is why I think the people who want the auto industry to fail are dead wrong:

1) Let me make a political calculation. This is a highly unionized industry. Unions are still one of the best resources we have for electing progressive candidates. If we simply let them fail, the unions will never forgive the Democratic Party. This is why the prospect of a failure makes Republicans absolutely gleeful. They love busting unions.

2) We simply can not afford to put 3 million (Madman says it may be 10 million - wow!) out of work - especially right now with the way the economy is decelerating. It would cost more money to help these people than it would to keep them working.

3) Obama made working with the auto industry to build a fuel efficient, environmentally friendly automobile an important part of his energy and economic plan. So, why are we bailing out on Obama even before he gets a start?

4) The automobile industry is in fact a hybrid business - it's not just cars. GM owns GMAC who is deeply involved in home mortgages. If GM / GMAC fail, the housing crisis will get even worse.

Paul Krugman has already come to the conclusion that this is NOT the right time to let the autos fail. He seemed downright scared the last time I seen him on TV. He isn't even confident that the autos will last out the year. I think it's time we do some soul searching. Are we going to behave like the free market right wing or do we want to advocate for FDR like market intervention policies? I hope it's the latter; otherwise, what did I work so hard for the past 4 years I wonder? I know that we can't allow this to become a bottomless pit; eventually, even the government doesn't have enough money to bail itself out. Right now, let's extend the autos a bridge loan. In the future, any further loans must be tied to a clear understanding of their business plan.


-Robert Scardapane

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-Noah Greenberg