Saturday, September 20, 2008

Quick-'n-easy explanation for the outcome

I've posted my concerns about the GOP stealing elections before. And now Mark Crispin Miller has written an article that hurts my head. Key grafs:

In fact, the only way that Palin and her doddering partner can prevail in this election is by stealing it, as Bush and Cheney did (both times). Certainly the ground has been prepared for yet another stolen race, Bush/Cheney's party having made enormous strides in sabotaging our election system (while the Democrats just sat there, whistling). Now, from coast to coast, it's far more difficult (for Democrats) to register to vote, and far more difficult (for Democrats) to cast their votes, while countless (Democratic) voters have been stricken from the rolls, through purges carried out by the Department of Justice.

Thus Bush's government has legally diminished the electorate (the Roberts Court approving every step). Meanwhile, the regime also continues to suppress the (Democratic) vote illegally, either through voter "caging" prior to Election Day--or, far more effectively, by fiddling with the numbers electronically at every level, and/or simply dumping countless names (of Democrats) from the electronic voter rolls, and/or putting far too few machines in (Democratic) polling places, and/or disinforming (Democratic) voters as to when and where to cast their votes, and/or simply scaring (Democratic) voters into staying home.

That is what it takes to steal elections in America--all of that, and also something else: a quick-'n-easy explanation for the outcome. For if those final numbers are surprising, there must be some rationale that can (apparently) account for them. And that is why the Bush machine put Sarah Palin next to John McCain. By arousing the hard core of vocal Christianists, they prepared the ground for the eventual redeployment of the same canard with which they justified their last unlikely "win": that millions of believers did the trick.

Indeed, it was not just the choice of Sarah Palin, but the whole convention, that was clearly calculated not to pull in undecided and/or independent voters, but to get the fringe alone to stomp and holler for the ticket. The party platform--crafted under the command of Christianist election-rigger J. Kenneth Blackwell--is a (literally) scorched-earth "faith-based" document, calling even for a ban on stem cell research in the private sector. And the convention spectacle itself was basically one long display of cultural resentment, with lots of loud, self-righteous jeering from the stage and on the floor (with an epic show of ridicule by that fine Christian, Rudy Giuliani).

A great chance to re-assert Congressional authority and relevance

Posting at The Left Coaster, Paradox makes some astute and compelling points, arguing that now is NOT the time to ram legislation through to bail out the Republican Party BECAUSE legislation produced "fast and on the fly" is generally terrible, and we have overwhelming evidence of this administration's incompetence.

As a general rule anything Congress produces fast and on the fly is terrible legislation. As the Patriot Act so aptly demonstrates, out of nowhere vast powers and discretion were handed over without any deliberative thought or legislative processes at all. Legislation needs time to craft carefully, yet the panicked Bush administration is demanding what possibly could be a trillion dollars worth of legislation in just the next few days to save the global financial industry.


The whole political and ideological structure of conservatism lies in total ruins before us. Vast amounts of money and policy are at stake in somehow trying to clean up the incredible stinking mess, yet Bush and the Republicans are demanding all of the money to let their market philosophy off the hook without any new rules or safeguards in place, just hand over all of the dough now.

Now is not the time to argue how we got here, right, how convenient that if we don’t hand over our future for the next term you’ll put a gun to our head and say the world financial system will crash. Y’all said Saddam was the greatest threat ever, why should I believe you now?

Here is a great chance for Pelosi and Reid to re-assert Congressional authority and relevance, they don’t have to obstruct, not in the least, just not be lead by the nose to slam the little people with no accountability and no financial environment change moving forward. If in fact some huge bailout happens in the next forty-eight hours we can be precisely sure that has in fact happened.

Okay, so the situation is bad now. Don't make it worse simply for the sake of doing something quickly. PLEASE, Pelosi, Reid - take note.

My cynical sixth sense tells me that the republicans WILL politicize the issue. (What a surprise.) They will come up with a hastily drawn up scheme (perhaps incorporating crap they've wanted to get passed for years) and scare the democrats shirtless by threatening to accuse them of playing politics with the economy should they not acquiesce. We WILL get some crap legislation that will create FAR more problems than it will solve.

Isn't it nice?

Blogging at The Left Coaster, Turkana asks an important question, that begs its own answer.

Isn't it nice how there's always money for wars of choice and corporate bailouts, but never for less expensive indulgences such as education and health care? This government is not of, by or for you.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Unqualified to deal with economic realities of this nation

Michael Klare, writing in The Nation, analyzes republican V.P. candidate Sarah Palin's credentials to govern and finds them woefully wanting:

The question thus arises: how does Palin's experience as a maestro of petropolitics bear on her candidacy for vice president? To begin with, it should be clear that she has nothing in common with the leaders of any other state. Although it is true that Texas produces more oil per day than Alaska, Texas is no longer a petrostate, since its economy has become so much more diversified. Alaska is virtually alone in possessing a large (oil-supplied) state budget surplus--now about $5 billion--at a time when most states and the federal government are facing massive deficits and citizen groups are rising up in fury at the prospect of budget cuts. Palin is simply unqualified to deal with the demanding economic realities of any nation that is not a petrostate.

Second, Palin's only real nitty-gritty legislative experience is in measures aimed at expanding oil and gas production, to the virtual exclusion of other factors, including the environment. Although critical of the cozy ties between her GOP predecessors and Big Oil, Palin, like them, views Alaska as an unlimited source of raw materials to be exploited for maximum economic benefit, much like the leaders of comparable petrostates (Kuwait, Nigeria and Venezuela). She says she cares about the environment, but her support for drilling in ANWR and her eagerness to push the AGIA pipeline through forests in Alaska and the Yukon suggest otherwise. We can only assume that, as veep, she would favor similar policies in the Lower 48, entailing more drilling, digging and pipe-laying in environmentally sensitive areas.

Finally, much like the leaders of other petrostates that depend on oil sales to fill government coffers, Palin is leery of efforts to promote renewable sources of energy and other petroleum alternatives--the exact opposite of running mate John McCain's proclaimed objective and that of most members of Congress. At a meeting of the National Governors Association in February, Palin argued against providing subsidies for alternative energy sources, claiming that domestic sources of oil and gas--many located in Alaska--can satisfy the nation's needs for a long time to come.

Could this be the turning point?

In a hard-hitting editorial from The Nation:

Only when the press decides to take its job--and the job of US president--seriously will this election see a debate about the crucial economic and foreign policy issues at stake ...

Only in a personality-driven, contentless climate will John McCain be able to pass off his two-faced promises of reform as a populist crusade. Railing against "multimillion-dollar payouts to CEOs," McCain now promises to bring "regulatory oversight" to Washington and "transparency and accountability to Wall Street." But his rhetoric is just lipstick on a pig. ...

Senator McCain--along with every Republican and Democrat who pushed financial deregulation--is responsible for today's economic woes. McCain voted for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, signed by Bill Clinton in 1999, repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, which since 1933 had kept a wall between commercial and investment banks. When that wall came tumbling down, and when the Internet bubble burst, the housing frenzy took off, as financiers sought new ways to create paper profits.

As for the press, its chance for redemption is here, in the presidential and vice presidential debates, the first on September 26. It must put questions about the economy center stage: What has caused this crisis? Does it signal the failure of market fundamentalism, and if so, what is the alternative? What role did deregulation play in it, and what role should re-regulation play in forging a way out? Why does the government intervene when financial institutions fail but do so little to help jump-start the real economy when there is deepening economic pain for ordinary people? What do you plan to do about America's spiraling trade deficits? How will you transform the economy to ensure that all Americans enjoy the benefits of sustainable economic growth?

Monday, September 15, 2008

A virulent form of Western self-delusion

Writing in The American Conservative, John Laughland explodes some myths of "democracy" in Georgia:

As soon as he seized power, Saakashvili’s regime unleashed an orgy of arrests of officials. In the name of that old Communist chestnut, an “anti-corruption campaign,” hundreds were rounded up. For months, Georgians were treated daily to live broadcasts of ministers, officials, and judges being bundled into police cars in the middle of the night. No doubt some Georgians relished the sight of the mighty falling, but many probably feared that one day they might get the 3 a.m. knock on the door themselves.

This was all lapped up by Saakashvili’s cheerleaders in the Western media. The Georgian president has indeed achieved extraordinary success in presenting his fiefdom as a Jeffersonian paradise. This is partly due to Georgia’s use of operatives in Washington, such as John McCain’s foreign-policy adviser Randy Scheunemann, and a PR firm in Brussels. But more importantly, it is the result of a virulent form of Western self-delusion. Faced with seemingly intractable domestic problems, in which different political actors have to be balanced, Western states like to indulge in occasional but dangerous flights of foreign-policy escapism. We imagine that we can free subject peoples with our bombs. The image of a victim nation has now become an easy psychological trigger that can be applied indiscriminately to Bosnian Muslims, Iraqis, and now Georgians. These unknown peoples and nations are but a blank screen on which we project our fantasies. Our image of them says much more about us that it does about reality.