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“DON’T MENTION THE WAR” November 7, 2010

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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The mid-term elections represented a Republican wave on which the Democrats were wiped out. Analysis and predictably analogies flowed in their wake.

Why was not the ongoing wars and widening war not a subject of debate or consideration? That is the obvious place to save money, and start investing it to stimulate the economy and make the changes needed to attempt to keep abreast of Global Warming, which as Kevin Rudd correctly identified is “the existential crisis” of the planet? John Letman at Truthout concludes his post, “Our fat, invisible wars” after reviewing the irrelevancies that passed for debate:

Since 2001, Democrats and Republicans alike have encouraged, enabled and ignored our wanton war making, squandering hundreds of thousands of lives, destroying families, homes, communities and even countries while eviscerating our own economy and social infrastructure. It is unconscionable that we, the citizens who vote and pay taxes to this government should remain mute, distracted or apathetic, saying and doing nothing, as if the whole thing has been forgotten or, worse yet, simply accepted as just the way America does business in the 21st century.

David Kaiser has a more extended analysis considering the present in its interesting historical context:

The Republican strategy has worked brilliantly, on the whole, by redefining our political agenda and skewing our debate. When one spends so much time reporting or debating fantasies, there’s no time left to focus on reality. I suspect the number of Americans who could identify Monica Lewinsky is far higher than the number who could accurately remember the state of the federal budget in 2000. The media, including the few outlets that can fairly be described as liberal, spend the most space on extreme Tea Party candidates. Who got more ink this fall, Christine O’Donnell, who never had a chance to be elected, or Russ Feingold, a long-time Senator? Why does Sarah Palin get more attention than all the rest of the Republican hopefuls combined? Because she is obviously unqualified to sit in the White House.

Republican enthusiasm has several sources. I pointed out six years ago that the Republican coalition includes the losers in the two previous crises in our national life: white southerners and corporate interests. (It is interesting that the corporate interests continue to prefer Republicans even though their control over Democratic officeholders is nearly as absolute.) Sadly, whole generations of white southerners have grown up since the civil rights movement who still seem to resent the ignominy it cast on their region–all the more so, of course, because they deserved it. A bad conscience remains one of the most powerful historical forces in human life. Meanwhile, the corporate elite has benefited almost unbelievably from the tax cuts and deregulation that began under Reagan, and seems to want even more. Their huge fortunes, combined with the Citizens United decision, have given them unprecedented power over political campaigns. Their money was used this fall to arouse resentment, above all against Barack Obama, our first black President, and Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful woman in American political history. And it worked. The Republicans have also drawn, of course, on the revival of religious faith, although that part of the coalition seems to be declining somewhat in importance at the moment. And the Republicans have made substantial gains among my own Boom generation, which seems to be worried about its entitlements and unable to grasp that the Democrats not only put those entitlements in place but have a far better record of standing up for them.

. . .

Meanwhile, the United States has real problems which only the government can solve. We shall have no more stimulus packages for at least the next two years, which will mean that unemployment will remain high (quite possibly contributing to more Republican electoral success next time) and that our infrastructure will continue to deteriorate. Any chance of actually reducing dependence upon fossil fuels, as the entire rest of the industrialized world has been doing for decades, is gone for the foreseeable future–a catastrophe whether one believes in global warming or not. Health care reform will either be cut back or, quite possibly, struck down by the Supreme Court, where Republican ideology is now in the ascendancy. That means health care will drain more and more money from the economy.

Glenn Greenwald bravely ventures onto the chat shows that become as he suggests the headache shows. He concludes:

The Republicans have long lived by what they call “The Buckley Rule”: always support the furthest Right candidate who can plausibly win. This year, knowing that it would be a wave election, one that would sweep in huge numbers of Republicans in districts where they ordinarily couldn’t get elected, they changed that to: support the furthest Right candidate, period. That’s because they believe conservatism will work and want to advocate for it. Democrats don’t do that. The DCCC constantly works to prop up the most “centrist” or conservative candidates — i.e., corporatists — on the ground that it’s always better, more politically astute, to move to the Right. Even in the pro-Democratic wave years of 2006 and 2008, the Democratic Party blocked actual progressives and ensured that Blue Dogs were nominated, even though the anti-GOP sentiment was so strong that any Democrat, including progressives, could have won even in red districts (as Alan Grayson proved).

With that strategy, the Democratic Party now reaps what it has sown. Its message and identity are profoundly muddled, incoherent, unclear, uninspiring, and self-negating. Worse, its policies are mishmashes of inept half-measures that, with a handful of exceptions, produce little good for anyone (other than Wall Street, the Pentagon and other corporate interests). They are perceived as — and are — beholden to Wall Street, special interests, and the corporations they vowed to confront. They are without any ability to confront the massive unemployment crisis and financial decline the country faces. And as a result of all of that, they lay in shambles. Anyone who can survey all of that and cheer for the strategy which Democrats have been pursuing — let’s build our majorities by relying on GOP-replicating corporatist Blue Dogs — or who thinks that this election loss happened because “Democrats are too liberal,” resides in a world that has very little to do with reality. And that’s true no matter how many times they repeat the simplistic snippets of exit polls to which they’ve obsessively attached themselves.

Pepe Escobar in the Asian Times Online requires translation from Latin. His article is “Sic Transit GloriaObama” (Thus fames the glory of the world):

The American right’s “road map” for these past two years has been to declare Obama an abysmal failure since January 20, 2008, and to do absolutely zilch to help the country out of its political/economic/cultural quagmire. Now – at least in theory – their bluff has been called by the American electorate.

Or has it? To talk about incoherence is a huge understatement. Americans have told exit polls they almost equally blame Wall Street (35%), Bush (30%) and Obama (23%) for the current economic disaster. Obama royally screwed up by bailing out Wall Street the way he did. But now the electorate has decided to reward a whole bunch of clowns and crooks who caused the debacle in the first place – among other things by endorsing George W Bush’s tax cuts and two trillionnaire, unwinnable wars. The tearful John Boehner – probably the next speaker of the House – is very tight with (what else is new?) financial lobbyists. Angry Americans voted – once again – for Wall Street.

The heart of the (sorry) matter is that Obama and the Democrats did not even strive to meet the great expectations awakened by the 2008 “Change we can believe in” collective rapture. They sowed the seeds of their own doom instead. No wonder they were deserted en masse by young people, ethnic minorities, pacifists and environmentalists while at the same time masses of enraged centrists, moderates and independents sought refuge in the right. Add to it the electorate’s gullibility in its manipulation by corporate media.

And then he goes on to forecast what will happen next in 2012. He envisages the White Obama.

Noam Chomsky has his analysis in which he suggests:

The executives behind the propaganda know that global warming is real, and our prospects grim. But the fate of the species is an externality that the executives must ignore, to the extent that market systems prevail. And the public won’t be able to ride to the rescue when the worst-case scenario unfolds.

If Noam Chomsky’s conclusion is correct, the situation is far more worrying than the surface drama. It shows that people can be captured by systems and they cannot see their way out, even when confronted with a larger peril. That kind of correction is purview of genuine political leadership, which the American System – and not limited to the US – cannot produce.

Shahil Kapur in The Raw Story suggested that the Republicans with there control over the House of Reps and therefore the purse strings may well hold an enquiry into “the scientific fraud of global warming”. On reflection, the restoration of congressional oversight and inquiry, is not itself a bad thing provided the inquiry included the public relations as well as the science. And there are other subjects such as the refusal to treat the injuries of veterans dismissed with pre-existing psychological conditions, after being blown up by explosives, that demand both Congressional Inquiry and remedial action.

ELSEWHERE:

Arn’t the Conservatives in Britain deeply pathetic and inhuman with their attack on the unemployed? They, not the bankers or the corporate executives, are supposed to be the ones with the sense of social responsibility. What makes sense to me is undertake the studies that identify the programs that work, allowing if necessary for individual differences and differences of circumstances. When people are socially isolated they become progressively less employable. Out of work people need often to be socially restored rather than punished. It is the difference between restorative and retributive justice – nonviolence or violence.

Paul Craig Roberts at Counter Punch provides an analysis to explain the tiddledum to the tiddledee of the two major parties. In this view, much like a marxist analysis, the apparent weakness of President Obama and theatrics of the Tea Party are the epiphenomenon of the underlying structural economic change. When the tools change, the economy changes, and perhaps our brains change as well. Presumably some brains do not change. If we envisage progress as a spiral then perhaps retrogression is intrinsic to the program. Problems tend to be cumulative and linear.

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