Cutting Through The Crap

Showing posts with label end of democracy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label end of democracy. Show all posts

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Price We'll Pay

As teabagger Republicans work their will, refusing to pay for anything including (maybe starting with) education, America will accelerate its slide from relevance. India, among others, is more than ready to take up the slack. They already are.

BANGALORE, INDIA - In a futuristic lab on a leafy information technology campus, an inventor showed off a power strip that calculates a household's carbon emissions for the environmentally conscious U.S. market. In a research center nearby, rocket scientists worked on designs for lighter, more aerodynamic wings for Boeing fighter jets...
...In the latest phase of globalization, some economists say, Silicon Valley is in danger of losing a sizable piece of its knowledge-based industry to India in much the same way Detroit lost its lead to Japan in the auto industry.

While the United States is still the innovation leader with global projects such as the iPhone, thousands of high-tech jobs with iconic companies like IBM and Accenture have been shipped to India.

My guess is it's already not just about money. But, clearly, the day is coming when it'll be only about locating the best talent. Our schools are failing, running out of money. Teachers are being laid off, measures -- as in my state -- to raise money for education are being rejected by the "I got mine, screw you" brand of America-love that now passes for so-called patriotism.

Prideful and selfish know-nothingism has prevailed, doubling and redoubling and destructive as Asian carp (no offense intended to Asians, our soon-to-be callers of the world's shots.) Here, as failed schools propagate cluelessness (by design?), teabaggerism will achieve a critical mass, crowding out all others until there'll be no room left for those willing to sacrifice, if only a little, for the common good. Once there are enough teabaggers, the end of education, at their hands, will see to it that the only thing we can produce will be more teabaggers. Ironically Darwinian, for people who don't believe in it. Our fate, already sealed, will be, at best, to be the consumers of the rest of the world's innovations.

Assuming we'll have any money left with which to buy them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Liars Lie Because It Works

Andrew Sullivan remains a forceful conservative, even as he no longer considers himself a Republican, disavowing the party, he argues (correctly), that long since has abandoned true conservatism. Sullivan is among several conservatives I've praised here, on those rare occasions when their sanity rises above the cold heat of steaming tea. Here's a good example of why:

It seems to me that the last year or so in America's political culture has represented the triumph of untruth. And the untruth was propagated by a deliberate, simple and systemic campaign to kill Obama's presidency in its crib. Emergency measures in a near-unprecedented economic collapse - the bank bailout, the auto-bailout, the stimulus - were described by the right as ideological moves of choice, when they were, in fact, pragmatic moves of necessity. The increasingly effective isolation of Iran's regime - and destruction of its legitimacy from within - was portrayed as a function of Obama's weakness, rather than his strength. The health insurance reform - almost identical to Romney's, to the right of the Clintons in 1993, costed to reduce the deficit, without a public option, and with millions more customers for the insurance and drug companies - was turned into a socialist government take-over.

Every one of these moves could be criticized in many ways. What cannot be done honestly, in my view, is to create a narrative from all of them to describe Obama as an anti-American hyper-leftist, spending the US into oblivion. But since this seems to be the only shred of thinking left on the right (exacerbated by the justified flight of the educated classes from a party that is now openly contemptuous of learning), it became a familiar refrain - pummeled into our heads day and night by talk radio and Fox. If you think I'm exaggerating, try the following thought experiment.

If a black Republican president had come in, helped turn around the banking and auto industries (at a small profit!), insured millions through the private sector while cutting Medicare, overseen a sharp decline in illegal immigration, ramped up the war in Afghanistan, reinstituted pay-as-you go in the Congress, set up a debt commission to offer hard choices for future debt reduction, and seen private sector job growth outstrip the public sector's in a slow but dogged recovery, somehow I don't think that Republican would be regarded as a socialist.

I'm tempted simply to lift the whole article and post it, because what follows is a detailed example of how the RWS™ and Fox "news"purloin phrases out of context and repeat them, distort them, build upon them, believe their own lies. But read the article. It says exactly what I've been saying for years.

When I rail against the deceptions and lies, pleading for reasonable discourse, acknowledging that there are bases for disagreement with Obama's policies while depressing over the fact that it's the untruths and the craziness that convince teabaggers to vote against their own interests; when I argue in this way, the negative comments I get are in keeping with the problem itself. With extremely rare exceptions, Obama haters drop by here not to argue intelligently, but to leave neenering snark, no doubt feeling quite proud of themselves. By the various names they leave they distinguish themselves, but not by ideas. They're superimposable.

It seems so obvious that Andrew is right. And yet the divide widens, as the hackery chips away at our foundation. Now, we've arrived at the point where truth is neither sought nor expected. Nor even missed.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You Can't Get There From Here

Reading liberal blogs, it's pretty clear that Social Security is as sacrosanct there as defense spending is to the right wingers. These are the two issues that will define the debate over fiscal responsibility, party faith, and willingness to do what democracy demands; namely, compromise. These are, in other words, the reefs on which we will finally and fatally run aground.

Of the many reasons I'm still glad Barack Obama is president, his pragmatism and lack (RWS™ lies and teabagger credulity notwithstanding) of doctrinaire partisanship are at the top of the list. Because if we're ever to get our financial affairs in order, we'll need leaders willing to take the hard stands and to advocate for what will work. It's what Obama does. Unfortunately, it's anathema to the extremes of both parties. To the left, he does it too much; to the right, all evidence to the contrary, he doesn't do it at all. (I think it's what's called projection.)

Robert Gates, to his credit (and credit to Obama for keeping him), is willing to buck his party mantras and the brass and advocate for defense cuts (albeit, so far, not huge ones). Obama, I'm sure, would be willing to piss off his base (he's done it many times) and accept some kind of cuts to Social Security. The question is whether there are enough people in Congress to take the hard stands to get it done. The answer, I'm all but certain, is "Yer outta yer friggin' mind."

Do we really still need bases in Germany? In Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Netherlands, UK, Italy? How about virtually all fifty states? If we do need them, is the necessary number twenty or more in Japan, Germany, and California? How many Navy ships, how many missiles, how much spent on unproven Reagan-era Star Wars? These are not fatuous questions.

Likewise, do Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and Frank Drackman need Social Security and Medicare? Given the increase in life expectancy since Social Security was enacted, is it completely off the table that retirement age be increased? Or, at least, that benefits be indexed to means? That the lid on withholding be lifted? Similar questions, of course, must be asked about Medicare.

At the fringes I see no more willingness to compromise in liberals (who, I generally believe, are more reality-based than conservatives, the representatives of whom, during the unlamented Bush years, famously claimed "we make our own reality"), and it's simply not tenable. On either side. It's why I'm also glad Alan Simpson, crazy ideologue that he is, is on the deficit reduction commission. If they come up with recommendations that both he and Erskine Bowles and the rest of them can sign off on, it will mean compromise has been accomplished and that both sides came toward the middle. The perfect contract, I've heard it said, is one in which both parties think they got screwed.

As impossible as that might be, the concept of Congress accepting the commission's recommendations is nearly unthinkable. The screamers of both sides will demagogue it to its death. (Which is not to ignore which party has been willing to do the compromising so far, and from what side are coming the vilest screams.) The deficit hawkishness of the current campaigns will disappear like teabags in a dumpster. Or cats.

On some level, it'll be interesting, especially to the adequately medicated. We are witnessing -- unless the tenor of the times reverses faster than physics allow -- the collapse of the myth of democracy, of the sort of politics that rose above the shallow mongering of stupid memes (vacation time, mosques, birth certificates, death panels, communist liberal America-haters) to do what was necessary. It's easier to believe lies and to fall back on the comfortable cushion of hate than to face problems squarely on the merits, pitch in, dispense with scapegoatism and pettiness. Fox "news" and the RWS™ figured that out a long time ago, and are getting very, very rich on it.

The voodoo deceptions of no tax, no regulations were easy to swallow when the inevitable was far enough off that the consequences could be ignored. But the attendant selfish ignorance has become enshrined and hawked effectively enough by the RWS™ and Fox "news" to have uprooted the ideas of shared sacrifice and common ground on which democracy depends.

Zero sum has become zero chance.

[Update, 9/2: yup.]

Friday, July 23, 2010

Well (if a little strenuously) Said

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I don't watch Olbermann any more, because unlike Foxophiles I don't need constant reinforcement of a narrow point of view, and I finally got turned off by his over-the-top self-righteousness and his tendency (as opposed to Rachel Maddow, whom I also stopped watching but highly admire for her actual journalism) to have only yes-men on his show. Which is not to say I disagree with him.

The above is exactly what I've been saying about Fox "news" and the RWS™ and all of those like Blue (I exclude Frank because I think he's huffing his hoses so much he doesn't know what he just said at any given moment and as a liberal I must empathize and hope he gets help) and teabaggers and the silent sea of softheaded seekers of solace from cerebration who enable them by defending them or simply ignoring the obvious: they're liars. All of them. Every single one. Deliberate liars. They're inimical to functioning democracy. They've taken the idea of journalism and perverted it, intentionally. Knowing the value of a vigorous and free press (protected by the Constitution the ignoring of which they supported for the prior eight years), they've chosen to destroy it by discredit. It's like those programs to control mosquitoes by releasing sterile ones into the population. I can't speak for the mosquitoes, but this plan is working well.

I'll say it again: if you heard it on Fox "news" or from any of the RWS™, it's a lie. It's a deliberate falsification based on a destructive agenda and it's predicated on the belief -- for which there remains no disproof -- that its listeners and supporters are too stupid or too needy or too lazy or too uneducated or too hidebound by their preconceptions to figure it out. And, of course, on the knowledge that among those who do figure it out, most won't care. Will, in fact, love it for that very reason.

Democracy depends on an educated electorate. Education depends on good public schools and a functioning, intelligent, well-intentioned and skeptical press. And so, systematically, brilliantly, cynically, the right wing has been amputating every leg of the stool. And they've been doing it for a single simple purpose: fool the rest of you so they can take the money and run.

Give me another explanation, and I'll consider it.