Sunday, January 20, 2008

1-20-08: One Year from Today, Our National Nightmare Will Be Over. Let's hope...

"I'll read enough, When I do see the book indeed
Where all my sins are writ, and that's myself..." (Richard II)

George W. Bush took office under an ignominious cloud, hiding in his limo, being pelted by eggs and tomatoes, after losing the U.S. popular vote and being installed as President by a 5-4 Supreme Court vote, swung by politicos appointed by his father and Reagan. It was perhaps the most disturbing day in modern American political history, and a year from today, it will come to its logical conclusion, as W will leave Washington as the worst President in at least the last 80 years, if not ever. That point is not really contested by any serious student of history; indeed, even the common man can appreciate the incompetence Bush has displayed, from Katrina to Iraq to the English language itself, which has endured a continuous and unmerciful beating at the hands of Bush, to the point that the parents of Miss Teen South Carolina should really demand a DNA test to make sure that she is not Bush's kid. The only appropriate conclusion would be to tar and feather Bush and Cheney and ride them out on a rail, like the Duke and King in Huckleberry Finn.

"One man came in the name of love..."
Today is MLK day, a good time for reflection on where the country is and where we have arrived from. There is a profound sense of optimism today, knowing that the idiot Bush will only have another year to destroy our country's economic system, our standing in the world, our military preparedness, and perhaps most importantly, our sense of values and respect for the freedom that is embodied by the Constitution. On this day of reflection, it is especially sobering to recall that several months ago all the major Republican candidates(except Huckabee) for President of the United States in 2008 refused to even participate in a debate hosted by an African American university. This, my friends, is the real state of race relations in the GOP: Outright hostility towards all but rich white males, as the 10 rich white males who originally ran for the nomination indicate, as they embrace xenophobia that is certainly unAmerican and anti-families that the GOP seems to care so much about. One would think that in a multicultural country that finally seems to be confronting worn-out assumptions about race and gender, the democrats would pounce on this opportunity to define the GOP as the bigoted, narrow-minded minority that is has become in contemporary America, yet here they are engaged in a blood-letting that may very well lead to deep divsions among racial fault lines that will open the door to the type of divide-and-conquer politics that Rove used to miraculously get a dullard such as Bush elected in the first place. With the state of America heading into 2008, it truly seems almost incomprehensible that a Republican can once again win the White House, but if the democrats do not redefine their priorities and consolidate their fragile power base, the inconceivable is exactly what will happen in November.
Nevada was a chance to see the raw, opened wounds of racial politics, as the Clintons successfully played the race card. Let's be honest about this: The only possible reason Hillary would have to make the LBJ-King comparison, which essentially started the race baiting, was to accomplish the Clintons' cynical goal of "blackening up" Obama so that they could take away his coalition by peeling away white and Hispanic voters, which is exactly what happened in Nevada. Obviously, there is a long and painful history of Hispanic racism against blacks in the West(and vice-versa in some cases, obviously), a history that many like to deny, while claiming that whites are the common enemy; however, one need only look at the transformation of South Los Angeles--and the racial hostility that has and continues to accompany it--to see that there is a tangible issue between these two groups, who far too often have competed at the lower economic levels of society. The brunt has fallen on blacks simply because they are far outnumbered in a city such as LA, which is a majority Hispanic city. Regardless of any real or preceived tensions between the black and Hispanic communities, Los Angeles political history has made it very clear that the groups have often supported each other, from Tom bradley to Maxine Waters to the current Mayor. Remember, it was Bill Clinton who claimed Nevada union workers were being threatened to work shifts that would prevent them from voting if they did not support Obama, which is illegal of course, but where was the follow up media report and investigation? Nowhere, because he made it up--another divisive lie, as the vote tallies showed, with Clinton getting plenty of union support, enough to win the state, in fact. Indeed, Bill has simply shown that he has another Sister Souljah moment in him(his 1992 pandering to the Southern white vote by comparing some second-tier rapper to KKK wizard David Duke). He didn't get it then and he doesn't get it now, but it worked in '92 and whether or not it will work in '08 remains to be seen, but since Bill has promised to go door to door in Carolina many of us are hopeful that black folks will get in his face and call his bluff: He's not running for president; he's a spouse and should know his role, and someone, since Hillary seems unwilling(which is troublesome if she wants to be president) needs to tell him to check himself and his ego. Clinton's campaign director's assertion that Bill is a "huge asset" is laughable when he should be excoriated for acting like a "huge ass."
The obvious truth is that Obama AND Clinton care more about the needs of BOTH groups than any GOP candidate, but Clinton knows that the only way to win the nomination is to leave Obama with a relatively small core group consisting of blacks, young voters, and educated white males. Thus, she sent out the red-faced Bill, angry and whining, to attack Obama, while now inadvertently portraying himself as some kind of bad tempered soccer dad, calling for fouls against his child's team. Indeed, it strikes one as childish and un-feminist for Hillary to have Bill out there doing her dirty work, fighting to protect his little lady, even while tacitly ignoring push polling phone calls that said "We cannot take a chance on Barack Hussein Obama," a clear echo of Bill's own words in an interview last month,as well as clear voter suppression efforts in Nevada. I knew those tactics would emerge in the general election, but in the primary, and from the Clinton side? How far have they fallen...And what does this mean if and when Hillary gets the nomination? I would force myself to support whomever the democratic candidate is simply because the GOP is so far outside the mainstream values of our society that I cannot justify staying home and not voting, but does anyone really believe that Obama's young, proud, hopeful, independent coalition is going to forgive and forget and run to the polls to support someone whom they view as smearing their candidate with racially divisive politics? And why should they?

"What news in this our tottering state?"
"It is a reeling world indeed" (Richard III)
Our national psyche has been the most troubling collateral damage in Bush's war against the middle class, as average income per taxpayer in this country--adjusted for inflation--is actually $4,000 LESS than it was in the 1970s(NY Times 1-20-08). Much has been written about the increasing gap between rich and poor, and the only thing Bush has accomplished is making the top 1% much richer, while middle class has seen wages stall and jobs leave the country. Bush has become so irrelevant that he is reduced to sword dancing with our great allies the Saudis, hat in hand, begging for lower oil prices and help with the mighty power Iran. And even those requests were rebuffed. Really, how much worse can his image overseas be? How can anyone be puzzled by the collapse of the housing market, the dollar, and the stock market? When a country sells its soul to make stockholders rich by sending $20 an hour jobs to countries that pay 20 cents, leaving $10 an hour jobs for our own workers, guess what the predictable result is: Stocks increase because of higher profits, credit becomes easier to procure, and housing expands, but then the house of cards falls because the average worker--with his or her lower paying job--cannot meet the payments when the easy credit dries up. This country is facing severe economic realities that anyone with a basic understanding of economics can appreciate. Many of us wrote about it at the start of the year, and the serious bad times are yet to come, as the desperate Bush stimulus plan is too little, too late. The real way to stimulate the economy is to cut military spending(10 billion a month in Iraq alone) and spend money on infrastructure and building things other countries will buy, not waste all our money on a hapless war. Radical thought? That's exactly what Clinton did in the 1990s to eliminate the federal deficit and stimulate the largest sustained economic expansion in the history of the country--tough medicine to swallow for the hummer-obsessed neopuritan hypocrites presiding over the economic and spiritual collapse of the nation.

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