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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Egypt and Links

Just watched Mubarak’s speech live on CNN. I’m not well-versed enough to know what the implications are here, but it felt pretty weird. Firing the whole government except himself (or as he put it, “resignations”)? Pretty sure he’s missing the point (“The Egyptian People Hate You” chants seem crystal clear). Is anyone else thinking of the Iran protests in the summer of 2009, and feeling worried that this whole thing will just fade away? Many of the issues changing the dissatisfaction into real protest in Egypt are issues everywhere, and I don’t think the powers that be are willing to see or allow any meaningful change.

The Guardian is streaming live updates, and I like them. Uh, The Guardian, I mean. Speaking of which, I always read whatever Robert Fisk has to say during events like these in the Middle East. I continue to (mostly) like the man, and his book The Great War for Civilisation remains one of the best things I have read, ever.

Aaron Bady has news and commentary about events in the Middle East as well, and as usual, it’s excellent and informative. Also, check out his current reading list – lots of interesting Middle Eastern fiction – by women. He also linked over to The Angry Arab, whose posts I’m finding great. The Agonist has also been a good place for following things, with short but helpful commentary.

Also, I’m flying outta Baltimore and driving with a buddy from Austin to Phoenix next week. Obviously not excited to step into the state of Arizona whatsoever, but since I was an impressionable little girl and watched Christian Bale in Newsies (c’mon, unions!) I’ve been longing to go to Santa Fe. Not quite enough to do a song-and-dance in the street, but still. So I was distressed to read about the crazies in the government over there. The world feels pretty nuts all around these days.

And if that’s not enough to make you want to throw up all over yourself, read this! Wonderful. The sheer evilness, the sheer stupidity of the Republicans boggles my mind. These guys are just a few nudges away from starting “pro-rape” campaigns. Love the zygotes, hate welfare moms. I don’t know anymore.

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Here are some things I have been thinking about:

It is a really, really bad idea to have our political debate reduced to focusing on how insane the far right is. When we simply stare with our mouths hanging open, shocked, we don’t really make things better. The right wing is gaining traction because we’re too busy reacting, and trying to fight racist, world-destroying assholes with logic. It doesn’t work. Those bitches be crazy. They are suffering from an age-old disease, and they have no ability to relate meaningful to other people and the Earth. They are wetikos.

We need to not give them any attention. We need to focus on real issues. I am not interested in debating the stimulus, or health care, or even cap and trade. The Earth is being destroyed. That means there will be no place for people. We are collectively committing suicide. Well, not we. A small cadre of insane, greedy cannibals, who are supported by emotionally/mentally crippled individuals.

We need to not just ignore them, but urgently present our own narrative. For example, Jon Stewart (and I like the guy) should stop reacting to Glenn Beck. You know what is more depressingly hilarious then listening to insane individuals on Fox News? The fact that hundreds of species are going extinct everyday. I mean, that’s not hilarious at all, but the collective obliviousness and carelessness sort of is (well not really, but I’m sure there are good jokes to be made nonetheless). Or Keith Olbermann to any of these nutcases. Left-wing blogs to Sarah Palin. These people are nuts, and the best defense is a good offense. They know that, and it’s time we put that into action ourselves.

So that’s what I’m for. More real depressing stories, and less reactions to the depressing tantrums of stunted individuals. Let’s do it.

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This isn’t 19th-century Russia. It feels a whole lot more depressing than that. Just look around. But still, it’s apt: What is to be done? From Paul Krugman:

The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno.

Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel.

And a nation that once prized education — that was among the first to provide basic schooling to all its children — is now cutting back. Teachers are being laid off; programs are being canceled; in Hawaii, the school year itself is being drastically shortened. And all signs point to even more cuts ahead.

We’re told that we have no choice, that basic government functions — essential services that have been provided for generations — are no longer affordable. And it’s true that state and local governments, hit hard by the recession, are cash-strapped. But they wouldn’t be quite as cash-strapped if their politicians were willing to consider at least some tax increases.”

People like Rachel Maddow and Ezra Klein and Digby have succinctly and eloquently highlighted what is happening.

But I don’t think blogging or talking about it is enough. Huge segments of the population don’t think the President was born in our country. People are freaking out about mosques and the 14th Amendment. This is absolutely, utterly, maddeningly bat-shit insane.

Talking amongst ourselves is all well and good, but the fact is that large swathes of our population are not being remotely adequately informed about issues, and yet are organizing and protesting. I think it’s high time we middle-and-upper-class liberals realize we have to get up and walk out of our homes and engage the public and try to peacefully get attention. We need to be protesting the deadlock in the Senate, we need to be out in front of Goldman Sachs and pointing to why so many Americans are suffering. Our technology is disconnecting us from activism. People didn’t get the eight-hour work day (how I miss it) by blogging and chatting up fellow believers at dinner parties. They did it by striking and protesting and risking their lives against a System which considered them worthless. But slowly, slowly, slowly change came.

We are rapidly, rapidly, rapidly moving backward. We had enough problems where we were. How can we peacefully help stop what is happening and regain control of the narrative?

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During the State of the Union tonight, Obama said a most bizarre thing:

“You abide by the law, you should be protected by it.”

That statement sounded good at that moment, but it also immediately suggests a corollary to me… And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be? Am I wrong for feeling that under the surface? Is it crazy to feel this way? Is this just years and years of seeing abuse and torture being validated and the prison population explode? Is it just me? Is that the strangest thing to slip in to the most important speech of the year? Or is that just par for the course these days? Should I not think anything of it? Personally, I can’t help but help but feel it was  a Wonderlandish comment which a whole but-on-the-other-side-of-the-mirror-thing, a departure from the Constitution and the Bill of Rights… I could go on and on, but I won’t. I simply feel that there is a potential threat in that sort of sentence, an unnecessary one, with democracy-threatening implications before it.

I feel this whole thing, delivery included, came across as a high school speech, a wee bit cheesy and corny. I could have written this (without the policy shit) in tenth grade. And I would have wagged my finger far more at the Republicans. Some people find this successful and likable and just what we needed, but I disagree. It’s not seizing the narrative. At it’s very best, it’s pretty pandering, it’s high-minded superior righteousness (which I’m more than prone to myself).  The tough stuff is too little, too late in the game, and not enough to be memorable or change the way we see things. People may watch this and say ‘yes’, but tomorrow they go back to reality, and no new narrative has been forged. I think there is no bite to this bark, and we are in need of a forcefully justified bite on those whose wealth and comfort is based on the exploitation and misery of their fellow countrymen and fellow human beings, wherever they are. With corporate ghouls looming in all of our shadows, I think we need quite a bit more of real FDR-style rhetoric, and less happy-go-lucky (‘blithe’ as Chris Matthews has it) “I’m-bipartisan-why-aren’t-you?” pop-isms.

P.S. Rachel Maddow, I love you. Plus, you said ‘feistyness’. Woo!

P.P.S. Bob McDonnell: We are blessed with resources and we should use all of them. Excellent. Soylent Green, here we come! We got the resources in ourselves. Or, as Matt Yglesias said on his Twitter (I have no idea how to link to those things or cite them ugh): What happens the day after McDonnell uses all our natural resources as promised? 3 minutes ago from TweetDeck. Where should we draw the line?! You are terrifying me. You are dry, but a far more effective speaker than Bobby Jindal, and that is the most frightening thing of all.

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This essay at Daily Kos (courtesy of Digby) that came out over a week ago is exactly how I feel about the rule of neo-conservatism and its disasterous consequences. For example:

Here’s the thing about the naughts: there was nothing magic about the numbers. It wasn’t because of a double-zero in the middle of the dates that we launched an invasion that’s cost the lives of thousands of Americans, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and a trillion dollars plus out of the pocketbooks of taxpayers. We launched into that still unresolved idiocy because of bad policy based on the conservative philosophy of smash things first, think never. We went there because of a extreme version of American exceptionalism, one that views America as above the the rules of law and exempt from questions of morality. A view that says not only if the president does it, it’s not a crime, but that if America does it, it can’t be wrong.

It wasn’t the decade that caused the economy to come down in tatters. It was a conservative approach to the marketplace that views government as the enemy, greed as the only acceptable motivation, and the only solution for disasters brought on by a lack of regulation as still less regulation.

It wasn’t the calendar that brought down the banks, or American manufacturing, or American’s influence around the world. It wasn’t the date that added torture to the list of growth industries while erasing our budget surplus.

Don’t forget the naughts, because this decade, no matter what anyone on the right might say, was conservatism on trial. You want less taxes? You got less taxes. You want less regulation? You got less regulation. Open markets? Wide open. An illusuion of security in place of rights? Hey, presto. Think we should privatize war by handing unlimited power given to military contractors so they can kick butt and take names? Kiddo, we passed out boots and pencils by the thousands. Everything, everything, that ever showed up on a drooled-over right wing wish list got implemented — with a side order of Freedom Fries.

They will try to disown it, and God knows if I was responsible for this mess I’d be disowning it, too. But the truth is that the conservatives got everything they wanted in the decade just past, everything that they’ve claimed for forty years would make America “great again”. They didn’t fart around with any “red dog Republicans.” They rolled over their moderates and implemented a conservative dream.

What did we get for it? We got an economy in ruins, a government in massive debt, unending war, and the repudiation of the world. There’s no doubt that Republicans want you to forget the last decade, because if you remember… if you remember when you went down to the water hole and were jumped by every lunacy that ever emerged from the wet dreams of Grover Norquist and Dick Cheney, well, it’s not likely that you’d give them a chance to do it again.

And they will. Given half a chance — less than half — they’ll do it again, only worse. Because that’s the way conservatism works. Remember when the only answer to every economic problem was “cut taxes?” We have a surplus. Good, let’s cut taxes. We have a deficit. Hey, cut taxes even more! That little motto was unchanging even when was clear that the tax cuts were increasing the burden on everyone but a wealthy few. That’s just a subset of the great conservative battle whine which is now and forever “we didn’t go far enough.” If deregulation led to a crash, it’s because we didn’t deregulate enough. If the wars aren’t won, it’s because we haven’t started enough wars. If there are people still clinging to their rights, it’s because we haven’t done enough to make them afraid.

Forget the naughts, and you’ll forget that conservatives had another chance to prove all their ideas, and that their ideas utterly and completely failed. Again.

I started this decade as a 16-year old girl. I cried on the night of the Supreme Court’s decision to make George W. Bush president that December. My teachers said this was a “historic moment,” but what they meant by historic they didn’t say. This was probably because all those decent middle-class minds didn’t think to question the rhetoric of the right-wing, and said such silly things like “both parties are basically the same”. I wept watching that man accept his undemocratic victory and wrote an impassioned op-ed for my silly high school newspaper. The differences between the two men were enormous, as even a child like myself could tell I knew in a few years our nation would be at war, that the poor would get poorer while the wealthy laughed all the way to their gated communities, that our environmental catastrophe would continue to be unaddressed. No one listened to “radicals” like me or to all the journalists and politicians who refused to be silenced. Funny, I thought of myself as simply honest and unpersuaded by emotional rhetoric which asked me to buy in to a philosophy which thought a certain group of people and businesses could do no wrong. Trickle-down and American exceptionalism and deregulation and corporatism were bullshit then, and they’re bullshit now. Just let no one forget that this ideology had a chance for a long time and it led to nothing but failure. Their mouthpieces on the right and in the center and even a few on the left (Geithner! You! Bad boy!) are liars and they are wrong, and everyone who knows better has to make sure the facts are heard.

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