Wednesday, August 29, 2012



By Jack Random

At an uncertain age and threshold of experience, something dark and cynical takes hold of the human psyche. Given any topic, event or policy, you realize that you have already engaged every argument from virtually every point of view.

Pity the poor soul who makes a living at political discourse. The quest for some fresh detail or novel nuance to keep the mind rolling must be tedious labor. Common sense abandoned, consistency discarded like obsolete technology, and passion tossed aside like yesterday’s waste, the march of punditry carries on in an endless procession to the same dull beat.

Consequent discourse is as moving as elevator jazz yet we move forward hoping somehow that it will make a difference, knowing within that it very likely will not.

I reached the threshold of cynicism after the latest lunatic with an arsenal of weapons tripped over the rainbow and splattered a crowded theater featuring comic book cinema with blood. You think it might be time to put a lock on the door to domestic weapons of mass destruction? The left says yea, the right says nay. We should arm everyone with deadly weapons so we can all shoot back in a dark theater. Should we outlaw automatic weapons? Not a chance. Bigger guns and better clips for all! It’s in the constitution. How about requiring an individual to provide a first name and middle initial before purchasing a Glock .357? Sure but only if he or she can use a pseudonym, something like The Joker. How about closing the Gun Show loophole that enables drug lords to enforce their will with mass murder below the border? Sorry, it’s the second amendment: Thou shalt protect drug lords and homicidal lunatics at all costs.

The truth beneath the veneer of second amendment fervor is that we must retain an armed populace to overthrow the government of a moderate dark skinned Democrat should he be elected to a second term. If you do not recognize the lunacy in this proposition then you are the problem.

In an interview that raised the concerns of the political left, candidate Barrack Obama expressed admiration for Ronald Reagan as a transformative president. There is in fact little in his record as president with which Reagan would disapprove. He has forwarded the Free Trade movement despite the awakening resistance of an electorate opposed to job exportation. Facing a financial crisis born of Wall Street malfeasance unrivaled in depth and breadth since the Great Depression, he has limited the backlash to the relatively tame Dodd-Frank reform. The restoration of Glass-Steagall has not even entered the debate. He renewed the Bush tax cuts in exchange for extended unemployment benefits. He has pressed forward in the war on terror, refused to repeal the draconian statutes of the Patriot Act, enacted drone warfare without congressional consent and prosecuted the war in Afghanistan beyond what reason and compassion would allow.

He has handed authority for the administration of welfare back to the states and strengthened private control of the healthcare system with the Affordable Care Act.

The truth is Bill Clinton did more to enact the Reagan vision of government than any other succeeding president and Obama has followed the Clinton tradition. The truth is the left has little or no representation in any of the three branches of government and yet a growing number of Americans are filling their basements and garages with weapons and ammunition in preparation for civil war.

It is the left that should be alarmed. It is the left that should be crying out for revolutionary change. Instead, we are reduced to political gadflies, defending the president’s infinite moderation and opposing a contender with no more backbone than a slug.

To say Mitt Romney is a man without conviction is like saying John Wayne Gacy was a murderer. He has elevated the art of duplicity and triangulation to a level that Machiavelli would envy. He is the kind of man only his inner circle of friends and family could like and even they might be lying. His ambition is so great it would make Caesar blush. He will say anything his advisors tell him will bring him closer to winning the peculiar chess game that is presidential electoral politics. If elected he will do what his advisors tell him to do. His foreign policy will be placed in the same neoconservative hands that delivered us into Iraq and muddled through the nightmare of Afghanistan. His corporate sponsors will control his economic policy and every initiative will be designed to maximize corporate profits at the expense of working folks.

The man who once proclaimed himself a moderate progressive now stands proudly at the helm of the primitive regressive party and smiles as they introduce compulsory pregnancy for rape and incest victims and a general ban on contraception. They want more babies but they don’t want to care for them. They favor steep cuts in all social programs to pay for tax cuts and increased military spending. Their idea of tax equity is that the rich pay less and the poor pay more.

What choice do we have but to oppose this man?

But opposing Mitt Romney is hardly the same as supporting President Obama. He took office to great fanfare, an historical precedent, and possibilities of greatness. His party controlled both houses of congress. As a Senator he knew the power of the filibuster and should have understood the willingness of Senate Republicans to use it. Either he did not or he accepted obstructionism as a part of the game. He did not press his former Democratic colleagues for rule changes (by a majority vote) that could have stymied obstructionism at the start. Consequently, he squandered much of his first term and produced a healthcare reform package so compromised few could defend it without deep reservations. He is essentially correct in describing his keystone legislative accomplishment as the Republican reform of another era.

President Obama has offered tokens to his political base on women’s rights (Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act), gay marriage (public support), immigration (an administrative reprieve to young immigrants to pursue higher education and employment), green energy (stimulus) and college students (financial aid reform).

He has failed to deliver anything of substance on trade policy and labor. While he can rightly claim credit for rescuing the American auto industry, he fell silent as the Republicans waged war against unions and collective bargaining in Wisconsin and elsewhere. As a candidate he promised to support and protect labor but he allowed the Employee Free Choice Act to die on the vine while he pursued his healthcare agenda.

He has failed to address environmental concerns of offshore, deep water drilling, chemical fracturing for natural gas and nuclear energy in the wake of Fukushima. Solar and wind are perpetually stalled, mass transit is on hold, and the road to expanded use of the world’s dirtiest sources of energy (tar sands and coal) is fully paved.

While military operations are substantially ended in Iraq, the president has failed to recognize reality in Afghanistan. Those of us who opposed both wars from inception should awaken every day to the nightmare of a thousand American soldiers and uncounted thousands of Afghans and Pakistanis killed on Obama’s watch.

Osama bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda crippled as Obama has prosecuted the war on terror with the full force of our military and Special Forces but he has allowed the egregious and draconian measures of the Patriot Act to not only stand but also gain broader authority. Under his watch an American citizen can be shot down or indefinitely detained without due process of law.

This is the man the right wants us to fear as a secret socialist agent? The unspoken hope on the left is that he will emerge in the second term as what we used to call a Kennedy Democrat.

Forgive me for my cynicism but I have heard that theory before. The year was 1996 and Bill Clinton, who had reinvented himself and redefined his party as the conservative Democrats with a social conscience, was seeking reelection. We hope that his second term would be different and we were left waiting for four long years.

My last hope for the Clinton administration was that he would grand a presidential pardon to Lakota political prisoner Leonard Peltier (falsely convicted on trumped up charges of murdering two FBI agents). Peltier remains behind bars today while Mark Rich, a white-collar criminal and contributor to the Clinton campaign, received a full pardon.

Presidents do not change in the second term. Whatever policies and positions are set in the first term, they will be pursued in the second.

Whichever party takes control in the upcoming election, this nation will continue on its rightward path toward corporate rule. The only difference is the Republicans will accelerate the process.

In the wake of Citizens United (the Supreme Court ruling that allows unlimited corporate contributions to political campaigns), real change will not come until the system collapses under its own weight. Under the excesses of the Bush administration, we came perilously close to total economic collapse in 2008-2009. Following the same policies, making the same mistakes, we will inevitably arrive at that same crossroads in the near future.

While few would look forward to the pain and suffering that would follow an economic meltdown that is the only scenario that would have the potential to produce transformative change. Like the New Deal after the Great Depression, only a catastrophic crash could break the stranglehold the world’s mammoth corporations currently hold on our government.

Meantime, we will choose our candidates like horses at the Kentucky Derby and cheer them down the final stretch.

The rich will prosper, the poor will grow in numbers, and nobody wins in the end.



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