Now there are some who would like to rewrite history - revisionist historians is what I like to call them ~ George W. Bush (b. 7/6/1946) 43rd President of the United States (1/20/2001 to 1/20/2009) revising history, and warning others not to call him on HIS revisions.
The debate is over whether we want the government to serve the needs of the bulk of the population or just the purposes of the rich and powerful. Progressives must stop helping the Right hide its real agenda ~ Dean Baker (b. 7/13/1958) American macroeconomist and co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, referring to the Left's acceptance of the legitimacy of the Right's belief in the "free market".
Hannity Assists Citizens United In Financial Sector Crisis History Rewrite
The Conservative spin machine went into overdrive following the economic crisis and bailout. It was obvious to (almost) everyone that deregulation, as championed by Republicans and Conservative Democrats, was what allowed the thieves on Wall Street to rob us blind. But the Republicans were determined to place the blame elsewhere. One of the ways the "popular notion" that deregulation was the culprit was countered was with a faux documentary titled "Generation Zero". According to Sean Hannity, the fact that "massive deregulation caused the economic downturn and, as liberals say, capitalism failed" is completey refuted by this film.
David Bossie, who currently serves as President AND Chairman of the conservative non-profit organization, has a long history of attacking Democrats by manipulating the facts to fit his narrative. During the Whitewater Investigation Bossie attempted to use "selectively edited transcripts" to smear President Clinton. Bossie was fired from his investigative position by Newt Gingrich, who described the episode as embarrassing. (The transcripts were culled from "tapes that were routinely recorded last year while Hubbell, Clinton's first associate attorney general, was serving a federal prison term for defrauding his Little Rock law firm").
A 4/25/2008 CBS News story reported that Mr. Bossie's GOP Dirty Tricks Dupe Media. The dirty trick was to produce political attack ads containing dubious information, then, instead of paying to air these ads, they would post them on Republican websites or YouTube. Eventually, after receiving enough exposure, the videos would be picked up by the news media and covered as if they were actual stories. The CBS News article points out that the news media "[running] the ad over and over is tantamount to giving free air time to smear machines...".
During the 2008 Democratic primaries Bossie attempted to circumvent campaign finance laws by airing an "advertisement" for "Hillary: The Movie", even though the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (also known as "McCain-Feingold") specifically prohibits the airing of "broadcast ads that name a federal candidate within 30 days of a primary or caucus or 60 days of a general election". Citizens United argued that their obvious hit piece, which included clips of all the most incendiary attacks against Mrs. Clinton, was not a political ad. It was a advertisement for their "documentary", and so was not subject to McCain-Feingold. Instead of ruling against Citizens United due to their blatant violation of the law, the ultra-right leaning activist Supreme Court struck down (a portion of) McCain-Feingold as "Unconstitutional", overturning 100 years of settled case law.
With "Generation Zero" Bossie continues the Conservative propaganda campaign. Utilizing all his old dirty tricks, he, along with writer/director Stephen K. Bannon, attempt to shift the blame from the Conservative economic philosophies which unquestioningly caused the financial sector crisis to "a frightening alliance between the Democratic Party and big business". When Hannity claims that banks and insurance companies failing is a "myth", Bossie responds, saying "Certainly. It's hubris and greed at the same time that it's the cultural and social breakdown from the '60s that is really taken that 30, 40 years that led up to September 18th crisis".
According to the filmmakers it is the baby boomers who we should be blaming. Specifically, the Democratic Baby Boomers, although, in my reading of the Hannity Special transcript, I see no facts presented on which that conclusion could possibly be based. It was Liberal greed and hubris that lead to the economic collapse, and not Republican greed or hubris? Nevermind that Libertarianism holds that it is personally responsible to act in your own self-interest, and according to (Libertarian and Con hero) Ayn Rand it's a virtue. Does Bossie think that Conservative greed is good and Liberal greed is bad?
In describing the "sociopathy that is at the heart of the far-right worldview", author Tim Wise, in his Daily Kos diary explains that the Conservative "worldview holds, quite simply, that doing for others is contemptible; that doing for self is the purpose of human life; that altruism and service are somehow pathologies pushed by collectivists and should be subordinated to selfishness and greed".
And everyone knows that it is the Republican Party which is in the pockets of big business. Hannity himself points this out, in an obvious setup for Bossie, who counters by claiming that, while that WAS true, "the Democratic Party has truly taken over that position of power on Wall Street". What's going on here is that Bossie is twisting the facts, as he is prone to do. Wall Street did make significant contributions to Barack Obama's campaign, but that was because they saw how badly bush had screwed the economy. Wall Street shifting more of their contributions to the party they believe is going to win the election does not an "alliance" make. If they had thought the Republicans were going to win - their contributions would have gone to the GOP.
Republicans have been in the pocket of big business for decades. It is why they've been defending BP and referring to President Obama negotiating with Tony Hayward for a $20 billion victim's compensation escrow account as a "shakedown". It is why they objected to, and forced the removal from the financial reform bill of a provision designed to set up a $50 billion fund allowing the industry to pay for the dissolution of insolvent banks (instead of the taxpayer). Despite the fact that this fund would ensure the exact opposite, Republicans lied and said the reason for their objection is that the fund would "institutionalize bailouts".
As for the Wall Street's alliance with Democrats? It appears as though they feel the Democrats have not "put out" to their satisfaction. A 2/7/2010 New York Times story says, "in a message to Democrats, Wall Street sends cash to GOP" as part of their "campaign to thwart Mr. Obama's proposals for tighter financial regulations". According to the article, "Republicans are rushing to capitalize on what they call Wall Street's buyer's remorse with the Democrats".
Who Needs Regulation When We Have Personal Responsibility?
Regarding Hannity's claim that Republican deregulation did NOT lead directly to the economic downturn - this ridiculous claim proves that the people behind (and promoting) this propaganda film are complete idiots. Because, even if selfish risk taking Liberals ARE who we should hold responsible, wouldn't regulation have been the best method by which to stop them? Bossie suggests that those responsible lack personal responsibility. Presumably, the solution, in his mind, would be more "personal responsibility".
Wikipedia states that "moral hazard occurs when a party insulated from risk may behave differently than it would behave if it were fully exposed to the risk". The Republican solution is to get rid of the moral hazard problem by refusing to engage in bailouts. Which leads to increased personal responsibility, less overly risky behavior, and a self-regulating free market. Because people realize that they, instead of the taxpayer, are on the hook if anything goes wrong.
The primary flaw in this theory is that it does not take into account greed coupled with human stupidity. The character Gordon Gekko from Oliver Stone's Wall Street acted in a way that he thought was in his own self interest, and ended up in prison. Greed, aside from being a negative character trait for many other reasons, is most definitely not good (regardless of what Ayn Rand thought, or Conservative ideology holds) because it often causes people to only consider the short-term benefit and ignore any possible future risk.
Certainly BP did not act in a personally responsible way. Their risky corner cutting netted them an increase in short term profits but ended up causing the greatest ecological disaster in US history. Since the explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon BP's stock has lost half it's value - and market analysts continue to speculate as to whether the company will survive.
Personally I am sick of hearing this idiotic meme that "personal responsibility" is a legitimate alternative to sensible regulation. We're supposed to cross our fingers and hope that everyone behaves themselves, because it is in their own best interest to do so? It is total insanity. Bernie Madoff's actions were hugely personally irresponsible. And Bernie Madoff was not an aberration. According to a 10/2/2009 USA Today article, "ponzi schemes are the most prevalent type of investor fraud". This, despite the fact that ponzi schemes are always eventually uncovered. The perpetrators go to prison, and the victims are left to litigate for the possible return of a portion of what they lost. Certainly ponzi schemers don't expect to be bailed out if (or when) their scams are uncovered. So, shouldn't "personal responsibility" have stopped them? That IS the Con theory, is it not?
I think that those in the financial sector making money hand over fist during the lead up to the meltdown and bailout cared as much about the possibility that everything may eventually come crashing down about as much as those arrested for running ponzi schemes. Yes, for some it may have been something they thought about, but I seriously doubt that an expectation of no bailouts would have prevented this crash. The only thing that could have prevented it was regulations enforced by competent government employees.
Free Market Fundamentalism Or Fakery?
And don't forget that it was Con hero Ronald Reagan who set up the moral hazard dilemma by deregulating the S&Ls, causing his successor to have to bail them out when they came crashing down (thanks, in part, to his sons Jeb and Neil). Economist Paul Krugman, in a 5/31/2009 article titled "Reagan Did It" points out that "Reagan-era legislative changes essentially ended New Deal restrictions on mortgage lending - restrictions that... limited the ability of families to buy homes without putting a significant amount of money down".
There is a reason the Cons keep pushing the laissez faire fairy tale of deregulation and personal responsibility leading to a self-regulating free market, and it isn't because they actually believe in this nonsense. The real reason they continue to insist that economic liberalization is the pathway to nirvana is that they want to turn our economy over to the wealthy elites. They believe that our economic system should not exist for the benefit of everyone, but only serve to make the rich richer. It is about time people wise up and realize that, whatever position the Republican part takes, it is always because that position will best serve the interests of the wealthy and corporations.
Unfortunately a lot of people have been fooled by the Con's insincere rhetoric concerning their "opposition" to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Even though a Republican president signed the bill into law, they were actually against it. Baloney. They knew that the Democrats, being the responsible party, would make sure the bailout went though. Because a collapse of the financial sector would have been extremely bad for the country.
The bailout, claims economist Paul Krugman, saved us from a second great depression by "averting the worst". And, it should be noted, that the Republican solution of eliminating the moral hazard problem (the one that Reagan set up) by allowing the financial sector to fail and thus virtually guaranteeing a depression - would only work (if it did) the next time. This time we would have suffered the dire consequences. In essence the Republicans were "demanding that the government stop standing in the way of a possible depression".
But it isn't as if they would have actually let this happen. Economist Dean Baker points to irrefutable proof that the Republicans are faking their allegiance to the free market with an essay titled "Free Market Fundamentalism Is an Invention of Progressives". It seems that the House Republicans recently put forward legislation to "discourage" strategic defaults.
Even though it many states non-recourse loans - which allow you to discontinue payment after turning your property over to the bank - are completely legal. Obviously the goal of the Republicans was to protect the banks from the terms of their own contracts. So much for letting the free market do it's thing.
Bottom line when it comes to "Generation Zero" or any instance of a Republican politician, pundit, or other insider lecture regarding the "free market" - is to not take anything they say at face value. Any argument put forward is most likely a deception or twist of the truth designed to help out their wealthy constituency while pulling the wool over the eyes of the average voter - and convince them that they should vote Republican even though it isn't in their best interest to do so.
The goal of "Generation Zero" is just that. Defend the wealthy elites and argue that they should be left to run our economy as they see fit (with no oversight), shift blame to the Democrats, and make money telling deluded voters what they want to hear.
Notes, Clarifications, & Additional Points
 Thanks to Sue, who brought this "documentary" to my attention with a post on her blog. A Conservative calling himself "Silverfiddle" said, "It's all true, and verifiably so. Of course, you can argue with his conclusions, but he uses facts to make his case". Seeing as the "documentary" is a huge lie I felt obligated to respond.
 Regarding Wall Street's "alliance" with Democrats - I stand by what I wrote above, even though the financial sector IS receiving favors in return for their contributions to Democrats (The Goldman Sachs-Obama Administration association is particularly troublesome). The financial regulation that is about to pass Congress has been watered down in an effort to gain a few Republican votes - but it wasn't strong enough to begin with. I still would not characterize this as an "alliance", but a very unfortunate reality of the political system as it is. The real alliance was and still is between Wall Street and the Republican Party.
 In the GWB quote at the top of this post ex-president doofus was referring to his illegal invasion of Iraq and the fact that Saddam Hussein posed zero threat to the US, although I think it can very easily be applied (ironically) to his entire presidency.
 In regards to the financial sector bailout, you may have surmised that I am a fan. You would be wrong. While acknowledging that the government did need to take action, and that the action they took did work (to a certain degree), I disagree with exactly how they went about it. (See "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008: Alternate Proposals for more information).
 Bernie Madoff, Free at Last: In prison he doesn't have to hide his lack of conscience. In fact, he's a hero for it. By Steve Fishman, New York Magazine 6/6/2010.
 Profiling CEOs and Their Sociopathic Paychecks by Thom Hartmann, The Huffington Post 7/27/2009.