OK

1. To illegally seize (an aircraft, ship, or vehicle) in transit and force it to go to a different destination or use it for one's own purposes.

Back in the 1950's, a famous quote was attributed to Dwight Eisenhower, early in his term.

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things.  Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas.  Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
The entire context of what Ike said is not as positive as one might think, but it's important to understand the full context of what he was saying to make some important points. Please look below the fold ...

"Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions.

I oppose this - in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it.

The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything - to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.

There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

I have used italics and bold to outline the crucial aspects of my exposition, to make some points.

Yes, Eisenhower was not a 'liberal' - but he was a principled conservative who respected democracy, and the desires of the will of the people who live within it.

Even though pressured by many to change the rates, Eisenhower maintained a +90% tax rate all 8 years of his administration on couples making the equivalent of about $5M/yr today, in order to pay the debt of WWII, Korea, building of the national hwy system, electrical power grid and massive building of govt infrastructure that still stands today throughout the US. One can make the argument that some of that taxation went towards the social safety net of the time, but this was before Medicare. SSI was then and still is today funded by employees and employers themselves, not from government coffers.

So in perspective, Eisenhower's view was quite right wing and restrictive by today's standards. One can conclude from his letter that Ike was viewed unemployment insurance, labor laws [at the time these laws were almost barbaric by today's standards] and the farm subsidies [of the time that primarily serviced small farmers - Big AG simply did not exist in 1954 as it does today] as 'dangerous centralization'.

So Ike was not exactly a 'liberal' by today's standards, at all. Yet Ike saw the extremists on the Right as stupid people, and Robert Welch and the John Birchers [Fred Koch, father to the Koch brothers and co-founder of the John Birch Society] paid Ike back by calling him a Communist agent.

"The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything - to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government."

Moderation appears to have seriously mattered to Eisenhower. He respected that ultimately in a democratic society, it was the will of the American people that should drive these types of policy decisions.

And this helps to point where Republicans jumped off the cliff, starting with Goldwater and Nixon, reaching critical mass with Reagan. The GOP increasingly chose to ignore democracy and Federal government responsibilities, since they were unable to make changes legislatively or convince the populace through reason, the "solution" was to demonize recipients of what they saw as 'government largess', and to demonize government itself.

And the Reagan/Bush administration found their voice:

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are:
'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' "

"Welfare Queen"

"New World Order"

Perhaps a conscious decision was made to follow Grover Norquist and "drown government in the bathtub" by denying the funding to the Federal government by way of tax revenue even as early as the 70s, long before Norquist uttered the phrase. Who knows. The end result was Republicans increasingly turned towards scapegoating one group after another, so as to slash the social safety net.

The rise of white backlash, of no-nothing 'Archie Bunkerism' achieved mainstream political mass through failure of the 4th Estate to offer Americans facts and real analysis. As media increasingly became concerned with 'balance' more than simple factual truths, America went through wave after wave of breathtakingly gut wrenching scandals in the Reagan administration. Most of America slept through it, not understanding or seemingly care about the rank criminality deeply rooted inside the Reagan/GHWB administrations.

Meanwhile, the diversion of funds in the '80s that would have gone to the Federal government ballooned the deficit dramatically - the US was increasingly forced to borrow more to pay debt carried. The canard that these massive tax breaks created a boost in the economy as claimed by Republicans is true in a shallow and facile sense; the injection of what would have been money in government hands, but now in private hands sparked massive speculation and economic bubble after bubble. These false economic waves crested in the 1990s and have crashed in the 2000s. Some of the wave created sustainable employment and provided goods and services for society as as whole, but much of it was horribly wasted, leaving infrastructurural wreckage we see today that rivals that from the Great Depression.

What Republicans have done is to hijack America, threaten what was democratically decided during the times of FDR, JFK, LBJ and put it all at risk through 4+ decades by unethically cutting the funding of these programs and turning Americans against each other.

The 8 yrs of the GWB administration was just a bumbling continuation of what started decades before, highlighted by gross incompetence and remarkable arrogance, and included many of the same players on the inside who served the Reagan/GHWB administration.

The era of having ethical conservatives like Dwight D. Eisenhower, who respected democracy and the will of an informed America electorate is long gone.

It's bad enough Congress is held hostage by extremists of the extreme Right, Romney's selection of Ryan and the Ryan 'budget' is a further continuation to this decades long effort; it's a capstone we cannot afford, that will spell disaster not only for the US, but for our democracy and the world's economy.

Originally posted to Shpilkis M Katz on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 10:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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