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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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Comment Preferences

  •  Only if we are able to overcome big money will we (8+ / 0-)

    be able to stop the rethug pirates from turning the once greatest nation on earth into a third world backwater has been with the largest fleet of rusting ships, the most dying industries, and more sick poor beggars than any other country.

    Conservatives supported slavery, opposed women’s suffrage, supported Jim Crow, opposed the 40-hour work week, the abolishment of child labor, and supported McCarthyism. from 'It's The Conservatism, Stupid' by Paul Waldman July 12, 2006

    by arealniceguy on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 11:45:17 AM PDT

  •  Tax rates (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Guyer, Bob Duck

    Seems to me that if you're going to cheer the Eisenhower tax rates, which went up to 92% on income over $400K (although apparently very few people ever actually paid these marginal rates), you would also at least have to explain that the entire bottom fifth paid as much as 22.2% on their first $4,000 of income. In today's terms, a couple making $37,500 ($2,000 in 1952) and filing jointly would pay over 20% in tax. Today they pay 10% on the first $17K and then 15% on the remaining. Big difference.

    •  Today, very few people (4+ / 0-)

      making $37K pay much Federal tax at all, as they are allowed to write off a lot of themselves,  dependents and various expenses. I dare say hardly anyone pays 10% tax on $37K ,  or 15% above that, either. And frankly, that's a good thing.

      -----------

      Do I "cheer" Eisenhower's tax rates?

      No. As you point out, the tax burden started too early on those who worked for a living. That trends carried through JFK, LBJ admins into Nixon's time. Pressure to reduce taxes on the poorest [at least on the books] came about during Ford, Carter and even Reagan's time.  

      The top tax rate when Nixon left office was 70% on couples making $200K/yr in 1974 dollars, which translates to about $900K/yr today.

      I used the top rates as an illustration that there was a progressively based tax structure in place. We're down to 6 tiers now. I'm not recommending we tax the wealthy at 90% or even the 70% level right away. But there used to be a much more equitable sharing of the tax burden, with the taxes going up bit by bit over two dozen tiers.

      This progressive tax structure was destroyed by Reaganomics, leaving the most wealthy free of additional tax burden.

      The corporate and effective tax rates on capital income  was ~60% when Eisenhower took office, dropping to about ~40% when he left - over the intervening decades it's gone up and down a bit, but has settled at historic lows, as well know - many of the rich pay effective rates at or near single digits in taxes.  

      Republicans totally abandoned conservatism in the 1980s ..

      by shpilk on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 03:11:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That was the big victory for Reaganomics. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shpilk, a2nite

        Bringing the top rate way down was the big headline, but the Reagan tax cuts also reduced the number of tax brackets to three. More brackets=more progressive tax code.
        BTW, The EITC enacted by Clinton and expanded by Obama effectively creates two new brackets in the lower three quintiles. Sadly, this is about the only win progressives can claim on tax policy over the last two generations.

        Insert your own pithy comment/angry screed/wise homily right here!

        by StratCat on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 04:09:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The nation needs a few solid statesmen. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, alice kleeman

    If three or four moderates from each side of the aisle in the Senate and six or eight from each side in the House would agree to talk with each other and negotiate and compromise and work together, these few might have enough swing votes to get just about anything done. They could almost act as a small but influential third party.
    Instead, the more moderate legislators - both Republicans and Democrats - are giving up in frustration over legislative polarization and divisiveness. This leaves the vast majority of Americans, moderates who have little faith in the ideologically hard-right or hard-left, also frustrated and - worse - unrepresented in the middle between the two extremes.
    Moderates Giving Up, Americans Losing Representation
    The nation needs a few solid statesmen.

    Thomas Paine: When my country...was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.

    by Bruce Brown on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 02:05:18 PM PDT

    •  While my own views are much more to the left (3+ / 0-)

      I can appreciate the danger of losing those moderate voices in Congress.

      It IS dangerous to our democracy, because the nature of our system, especially the Senate allows for partisan gridlock. The obstruction is certain to ensue, and discussions about policy quickly devolve into shouting matches.

      It's horrendous and no way legislate or be held hostage as one tries to administer a nation to such gridlock.

      Republicans totally abandoned conservatism in the 1980s ..

      by shpilk on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 03:15:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Really? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk, Bruce Brown, claude, Calamity Jean

      You can look at how congress has functioned the last 3 years, wherein the Republicans declared from the beginning that they would oppose anything the President favored so as to make him a one-term president, and claim that the Democrats are too left wing? Are you unaware of the fact that much of Pres. Obama's attempts were compromises from the start, or based on Republican ideas? (health care mandate, cap and trade)

      Frankly, it is suspect to call the Democratic party "hard-left". For heavens sake, they are trying to save social security and medicare, which the Rs seem determined to destroy. The Republicans are trying to eliminate many of the rights women have fought for, and are trying to suppress the voting rights of anyone who does not vote for them.

      •  I agree that calling today's Democratic Party (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The grouch, StratCat, Calamity Jean

        hard left is a non-starter, it's simply not the case. I cannot speak for the poster, but I doubt his point is "the Democratic Party is hard left".  The CPC and Bernie Sanders have very little influence over the Democratic Party, and I wouldn't even call them 'hard left'; but they are certainly 'to the left'.

        If anything, it is Obama who is the moderate: he tempered many of our demands, and tried to work through was he thought was possible - and we all know the results.

        I see Obama's approach to politics like Eisenhower's was, in some ways - they both respected democracy and the process that allows both sides to compromise.

        That has been totally lost as right wing extremism has taken over the GOP.

        Republicans totally abandoned conservatism in the 1980s ..

        by shpilk on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 03:26:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not hard-left. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shpilk

        Moderate-left might even be a stretch.
        I can see how what I said could be interpreted as calling the Dems "hard-left." They're actually no further left than the Roosevelts of 70 and 100 years ago, and not much to the left of Eisenhower 55 years ago.
        But to the hard right and their patrons, someone who favors reforming the healthcare finance system and keeping Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security afloat, and maintaining a safety net for the unemployed and the poverty-stricken, and letting everyone vote isn't a moderate but a hard-left socialist.
        Very few American believe that a tax increase is never justified for anyone, ever, and very few Americans believe that soaking the rich is all it takes to fix our budget deficits and our sick economy. I think most of us are in the unrepresented middle, thinking that maybe some of us pay a little too much, some of us could afford to pay little more, while perhaps certain huge corporations and some of the super-rich may be paying less than their fair share.
        Very few Americans believe that reasonable government regulation and oversight of big business would kill our free-market economy, and very few Americans believe that the government ought to micromanage big business and high finance for the benefit of the people and for the good of the nation. I think most of us are in the unrepresented middle, thinking that if the government had been paying proper attention to the financial sector, maybe we wouldn’t be in the economic mess we’ve been in for the past four years.
        Very few Americans believe that no civilian should ever own a firearm of any kind for any reason, and very few Americans believe that the government should never infringe on anyone’s right to own any kind of arms they want. I think most of us are in the unrepresented middle, thinking that maybe our friends and neighbors arming themselves with AK-47s is not necessary to the security of our free state.
        Very few Americans think it’s okay that the nation has gone three years without a budget. Very few Americans think it’s okay that presidential candidates all the way back to Nixon have promised a “coherent energy policy” and we still don’t have one. Many Americans are suspicious of opaque organizations funded by undisclosed wealthy donors that can freely spend unlimited millions boosting the candidates of their choice.
        I think most of us are in the unrepresented middle.

        Thomas Paine: When my country...was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.

        by Bruce Brown on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 04:50:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  When a nation has slowly moved from center right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler, Bruce Brown

      over the decades to radical right... your wish for "centrists" to moderate the debate is off-kilter.


      In my honor he pulled out old forgotten dignity and walked straight in a crooked world. ~~poetry of young Barack Obama

      by bronte17 on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 04:10:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ummm, i think that's already been tried. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bruce Brown, a2nite

      during clinton's presidency rahm emanuel (for the d's) & newt gingrich (for the r's) ran things in dc.  once newt got bounced from office he was replaced by bill frist (i believe).

      the point is, there was a group of 6 congress critters running the whole fucking government.  (talk about a silent coup!)

      our vaunted fourth estate ignored it for the most part, & it was continued under cheney/bush, except the d's were shut out completely after 2000 & the r's were told to shut up & sit down while dick ran things.

      •  the congress (0+ / 0-)

        has always been run by a handful of Senators and Representatives. Nothing new there. It's explicitly enshrined in Majority and Minority leadership and their lieutenants.

        Don't ever think that congress has ever run like an ows general assembly.

        Try to shout at the right buildings for a few months.

        by nickrud on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 08:13:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  no, i meant nothing ever got into or out of (0+ / 0-)

          committee without the ok of a small clique, some of whom weren't even in leadership positions.

          i read a piece on it in time magazine once -- & i mean one time! -- & was shocked at how perverted the process had become.  apparently rahm would give newt or whoever a call & say "these are our terms" & the guy on the other end of the line would say "ok" or "these are our terms," they'd agree to whatever it was & the vote would go down without any debate or hearings or anything.  incredible.

          i know what you're saying about old school politics but this wasn't every once in a while, it was every single fucking thing that happened in the govt & not just legislation.

          •  Read up on LBJ while he was (0+ / 0-)

            Senate Majority Leader. It's long enough ago for some decently dispassionate analyses. If you think Rham or Newt ramrodded Congress you're in for an eye opener.

            Try to shout at the right buildings for a few months.

            by nickrud on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 07:52:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i spent many (too many for my taste) yrs in texas (0+ / 0-)

              (born there, as a matter of fact) so i'm no stranger to lbj's style of politics.  the point i was trying to make (& apparently mangled badly in the process) was there was no longer any discussion/debate on the floor of congress, even if it was just for show, as happened in lbj's day.

              decisions were made w/o any consultation, & the wh was completely shut out of the loop, even tho clinton's own party held congress.

              i know in the 20th century it was common practice for republican administrations to cede power to republican congresses & then go to sleep for the rest of the prez's term, but for a democratic administration to do that was bizarre to me.

              •  heh (0+ / 0-)

                I spent too many years in texas for my taste as well (.975 years, to be exact :). LBJ's style wasn't something new - he was taught it.

                LBJ ceded a great deal to Congress. For example, he was pretty much hands off when it came to shepherding the Civil Rights legislation. Magnusson did the work and LBJ took the credit.

                More recently Reagan and O'Neal would set things up behind the scenes and there'd be kabuki on the House floor. There hasn't been meaningful debate in Congress, where members were actually on the floor, listening and responding to one another, in decades. Mostly it's come in, give your speech to an empty chamber, and leave. Sometimes back benchers will do some back and forth but it's not the British Parliament. I would love a Question Time, myself.

                Try to shout at the right buildings for a few months.

                by nickrud on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 11:35:47 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  agree. i was reading some of gore vidal's quotes (0+ / 0-)

                  right after he died, & one of them was:

                  congress doesn't pass budgets or declare wars anymore, so the idea of the us being a republic is pretty much dead.

                  so (unfortunately) true.

  •  Obama gave Ryan too much credit... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk

    in calling him an "ideologue". That makes it sound like Ryan is presenting ideas, when he is shoveling a lot of crap.

    Le nirvane n'existe pas. - Etienne Lamotte

    by breakingranks on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 02:27:36 PM PDT

  •  Always good to remind ourselves... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bruce Brown, shpilk, alice kleeman

    That this goes back a long way. My first presidential election was 1980. I won't pretend that I saw all of this coming back then but I certainly knew at the time that Reaganomics was bad news for the middle class.
    Working our way out of this mess will take a lot longer and a lot more than just a second term for Obama.
    I think we've reached the tipping point as far as public opinion goes and progressives will get more political opportunities in this and in future cycles. But we need to be smart and resilient and play the long game.
    Good luck to us all.

    Insert your own pithy comment/angry screed/wise homily right here!

    by StratCat on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 02:30:15 PM PDT

  •  We don't need no stinking democracy! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, a2nite, claude, Calamity Jean

    It's apparent from the actions of the Republican state governments that they have no interest in actual democracy, as they do everything possible to suppress the vote of those who may disagree with them. Hell, even people who think they agree with republicans are being lied to and used.

  •  What democracy? There is no such thing in USA (0+ / 0-)

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 04:52:58 PM PDT

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