Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What's Up with the "Hagel Thing?"

What’s Up with the “Hagel Thing”?
P. Schultz
February 27, 2013

            Well, a question I have is what was the Hagel thing all about? It wasn’t really about Israel because nothing is going to change with regard to our policy toward Israel. Just not happening. And of course when the opposition is based on reports of Hagel connecting with a fictitious “radical” group, you know it isn’t about that.

            So here is what I think. It was all about hiding the weakness of the Republican Party at present. I mean, like a child’s tantrum, which is always an illustration of the child’s powerlessness, the Republican Party threw a tantrum and like a child hoped no one would notice that it was powerless. It was, of course, powerless to stop the approval of Hagel’s nomination, just as it is powerless to affect in any meaningful way his actions as Secretary of Defense. The party is powerless because it lost the last presidential election and those who lose elections lose power.

            But an even more interesting question for me is: Why do the Democrats play along? That is, why don’t the Democrats just call “a spade a spade” and ram through a nomination like Hagel’s? Why do they, the Democrats, that is, play along and let the appearance of a real conflict prevail?

            Now, first, the question itself is interesting, as I have not heard anyone raise it. This might even be more interesting than possible answers. But, second, regarding possible answers the one I like is that the Democrats play along because then, when the powers that be in that party want to justify their compromises with the Republicans, they can do so by pointing the what is alleged to be a deeply divided Washington. “Hey, folks, we had to agree to those cuts in Social Security, in Medicare, and in Medicaid even though we didn’t want to agree to because, well, because Washington is so deeply divided between two parties of relatively equal power.”

            Of course, they really did want to make those “adjustments,” which will help to preserve, they think, the status quo. But at the same time, they cannot say that they want those “adjustments” without threatening their own power. And so, the Democrats play along with the Republicans and pretend that they cannot  govern without the Republicans. Just watch and see what happens with the sequester and I wager that Obama will pretend he was forced to compromise with the Republicans.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Racism? In the US? Never

Racism? In the U.S.? Never
P. Schultz
February 25, 2013

I have to love this from the Washington Post today and I have to love Justice Sotomayor’s calling “a spade caller a spade caller.” Ah yes, the virtues of “diversity.”

“Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor accused a Texas federal prosecutor Monday of tapping into a “deep and sorry vein of racial prejudice” in his questioning of a black man facing a drug charge.

“The justices did not accept Bongani Charles Calhoun’s request that the court review his conviction, but Sotomayor appended a scathing statement to make sure that the court’s denial was not be seen as a signal of “tolerance of a federal prosecutor’s racially charged remark.”

“Sotomayor did not name Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam L. Ponder in her statement, but she denounced his questioning of Calhoun, who maintained in court that he did not know that the friends with whom he was traveling were planning a drug deal.

“Ponder had asked Calhoun: “You’ve got African Americans, you’ve got Hispanics, you’ve got a bag full of money. Does that tell you — a light bulb doesn’t go off in your head and say, ‘This is a drug deal?’

A Comedy of Errors?

A Comedy of Errors?
P. Schultz
February 25, 2013

            Well, folks, here it is: A report of another one of those ‘blunders’ by our president.

“With Congress unlikely to stop deep automatic spending cuts that will strike hard at the military, the fiscal stalemate is highlighting a significant shift in the Republican Party: lawmakers most keenly dedicated to shrinking the size of government are now more dominant than the bloc committed foremost to a robust national defense, particularly in the House.

“That reality also underscores what Republicans, and some Democrats, say was a major miscalculation on the part of President Obama. He agreed to set up the automatic cuts 18 months ago because he believed the threat of sharp reductions in military spending would be enough to force Republicans to agree to a deficit reduction plan that included the tax increases he favored.”

            Of course, this “analysis” assumes that this “major miscalculation” does not serve Obama’s interests in preserving the status quo while sticking it to most Americans by taking away their retirement money and their health care money, to say nothing of other “reductions” or “adjustments.” And, further, the article makes no mention of the possibility that restoring the “defense” cuts will be far easier – and far easier to disguise and hide – than restoring other cuts. I mean, come on, with the president able to, “at a stroke,” create a “national security crisis,” I will wager anyone that any cuts to the “defense” budget will be temporary – and both the president and the Republicans know this.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sequester: Who Cares?

Sequester: Who Cares?
P. Schultz
February 23, 2013

            Well, here it is, folks, short and sweet and all you need to know about why the Republicans and Democrats are not all that concerned about the upcoming sequestration. The following paragraph just about says everything that needs to be said:

“At heart, the present standoff is yet another indication of the political resistance to a compromise curbing the growth of Medicare, Medicaid and possibly Social Security, a step that both Obama and Republicans say is essential to restoring the nation’s fiscal health. It is the last major remaining challenge in divided government’s struggle, now in its third year, to reduce deficits by $4 trillion or more over a decade.”

            There is the crux of it: “both Obama and Republicans [think it] essential” to “curb the growth of Medicare, Medicaid, and possibly Social Security.” As George Carlin put it in his last HBO show, “they are coming after our retirement money. And they will get it.” So, they are creating “the present standoff” to prepare the ground for taking our money – while perhaps raising taxes a little bit as well.

            It should be kept in mind – although this “analysis” makes no mention of it – that not everyone thinks these programs are at the core of our current budgetary issues. But obviously, if both political parties think they are, then that must be gospel. And this is labeled “analysis.”

“Unlike in earlier rounds of budget brinkmanship, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans both seem content to fight out their latest showdown on the current terrain, let across-the-board spending cuts take effect on March 1 and allow them to stay in place for weeks if not much longer.”

            There it is, again. “Let across-the-board spending cuts take effect” and let them last and in that way prepare the American people for the talk of necessity, of how the “system” is broken and so this what we had to do. “Sorry, folks. But you have been living high off the hog for too long and now you need ‘discipline.’”

            And everyone will nod, watch more reality shows, watch March madness, then baseball, and the political class will, as Carlin predicted, take our retirement money. What a country.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Demanding Action

Demanding “Action”
P. Schultz
February 21, 2013

            Below is a link to the blog, Landdestroyer, a blog I like to read every so often for its perspective on imperialism and other matters political. Many would say that this guy is “way over the top,” and perhaps, at least from a conventional point of view, they would be right. Nonetheless, and probably because I have been reading some Machiavelli of late, perhaps “over the top” does not always mean “off the mark.”

            In the blog linked below, the argument is that demanding action from a government, that is, the national government, that is controlled by and represents quite well corporate interests, is futile. To wit:

“We all desire cleaner air, healthier food, safer water, and greener parks. Waiting for a corporate-financier establishment to give it to us, when they themselves are the ones that have denied us of these essentials is the height of both naivety and futility.“ 

            As this quote illustrates, the blog deals with climate change and a “rally” that occurred attended by some 40,000 people, all demanding that the national government take action in order to do something, anything apparently, about climate change. But I am not so interested in that peg as I am in the more general argument put forward that

“In fact, when you think about it, almost all of these real solutions involve real community and local action, not placard-waving trips to Washington. These are not solutions that involve policies, taxes, and regulations, but rather technology, education, constructive, pragmatic, technical solutions that not only would make our environment more livable, but make our local economies and communities more viable and self-sufficient. The catch is, and the reason why this isn't being done, you will notice that none of these activities require WWF sponsors like Walmart, Nike, IBM, Toyota, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, HSBC, Citi, IKEA, Nokia, etc.”

That is, I am more interested in the argument that action, real or meaningful action by real people, should and must happen at the local level.

            One question is: What happens to “action” taken at the national level? For example, what happens to “gun legislation reform” at the national level as opposed to the local level? And I am not arguing that national legislation is always less useful than local legislation. Rather, I am just raising a question about politics, about national politics versus local politics. We have been educated to think, “Hey, big problem? Well, we need to turn to BIG GOVERNMENT.” But our central government is not just “big,” it is also “national” and “bureaucratic.” What does this mean in terms of “action?” 

            And this question leads to others, such as: Is a national government or a national mindset always preferable to local governments or a “local mindset?” What is or would be a “local mindset?” What might these words reveal or obscure, just as the words “national government” reveal and obscure at the same time.

            And, lastly, at least here, I like this blog because it leads to an argument that our “problems” are more political than anything else. That is, we have the “problems” we have and which continue to plague us because of how we have arranged “things,” because of how we think politically and how we have institutionalized our world. If BIG GOVERNMENT and BIG CORPORATIONS go hand in hand, and if these BIG CORPORATIONS are not interested in genuine solutions to “our problems,” then  in order to “solve” these “problems” we need a different arrangement. Or as another of my favored commentators has put it, we have reached the limits of what we call “civilization.” [Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael and other writings.]

Friday, February 15, 2013

Manufactured Crises

Manufacturing Crisis, Manufacturing Consent
P. Schultz
February 15, 2013

“The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next.” Barack Obama, State of the Union, 2013

            Something bothered me about this assertion from Obama, our current president, and I was finally able to realize what it was: This assertion could not be more wrong, both as a historical fact and as a political fact. That is, not only can a nation, even an allegedly great nation, move from one manufactured crisis to the next, but the United States, the allegedly great nation in question, has done so. In fact, it is plausible to argue that this is a rather apt and accurate description of our politics.

            When Richard Nixon declared the “necessity” for a “war on drugs”, there was no “drug crisis” except of course as he chose to manufacture it. In that year when Nixon made this declaration of war, more people died falling down stairs in the U.S. than died of drug abuse, including both legal and illegal drugs. Even today, the typical drug “abuser” in the U.S. is a person who occasionally uses marijuana. This is what the typical drug user looks like. Don’t believe me? Just look at our prison population and its characteristics.

            There is no obesity crisis in the U.S. today both because most Americans who are labeled “obese” by government approved standards are perfectly healthy but also because the term “obesity” has little, if any, value for assessing a person’s health. For example, almost every professional football player is “obese,” by official “standards.” [See  the book, The Obesity Myth, especially the first chapter for an analysis of the foolishness that passes for “science” regarding human weight.]

            My wife and I are watching a new show, “The Americans,” which is about two Russians who have been planted in the U.S. during the cold war, the Reagan Administration particularly, and acting as typical Americans [two kids and a house in the suburbs] to spy on the U.S. I have trouble taking it seriously because it is fair to say that much, if not all, of the “Cold War” was a manufactured crisis. I mean just re-read John Kennedy’s Inaugural Address and you will see or hear what I mean. Before he gave that speech, there was no crisis that required we “pay any price, bear any burden” in confronting the world. According to Eisenhower, the nation was most in need of “a rest,” of some “normality,” perhaps even some contentment. But both Nixon and Kennedy ran against this view of the world and the place of the U.S. in it. It was necessary, both said, for the U.S. “to get moving again.”

            And move we did. But there never was a “crisis” in Vietnam or Southeast Asia for that matter, as we can see today as we buy sneakers manufactured by those dreaded communists in Vietnam. Nor was “the loss” of China to communists a crisis, as we can see so clearly today as we deal with those “Reds” on a massive scale. And, needless to say, there never was a crisis in Cuba as a result of the Castro revolution, except that we wanted to manufacture one there, one which it is still “necessary” to maintain. And as almost all know today, there never was a crisis of WMDs in Iraq that required an invasion of that country. Even the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets was a faux crisis, which we dealt with by arming those who would, eventually, attack us. And to cap this off, I would say there is no “terrorism crisis,” which is not to say that there are not “terrorists” we have to or should “deal with.” But a crisis? I think not.

            The question then becomes: Why? What purpose or purposes are served by manufacturing crisis after crisis? Well, it is my opinion that the interests of the establishment in each political party are well served by such manufactured crises. Because we must confront one crisis after another, there is no time to consider real or significant changes in our political world. And this means that the current power brokers get to keep the power they have accumulated and for which they have sacrificed any semblance of a normal life. [This phenomenon is, I suspect, personal as well political. That is, when these people lose that power they can see just how abnormal their lives are. That is, those lives no longer make much sense, even to them. Hence, the constant effort to stay “involved,” ala’ Bill Clinton or Dick Cheney or even George Bush.]

            Moreover, I believe it is widely accepted by psychologists and others who know human behavior that dysfunctional groups go from crisis to crisis, actually need such crises in order to continue to hold together. Such groups are like a house of cards, liable and ready to collapse at any moment. It is crises that hold them together, especially crises that are deemed to come from the outside, what in politics would be called foreign enemies. Although as J. Edgar Hoover knew so well, these “enemies” could come from “within.” [See his book entitled The Enemy Within.] And so, we have manufactured enemies, such as communists, drug dealers, illegal immigrants, obese people, smokers, pedophiles, gun-toting maniacs, uncivilized youths, drug users, crack addicts, welfare queens, dependent people, terrorists, Muslims, just to name a few that come readily to mind. I am sure you can add to the list.

            Several years ago, more years than I care to remember, while teaching my course, Introduction to American Government, I asked the class to watch the news each evening and help make a list of the various crises we as a nation or a state were forced to deal with. We reached a low point when someone pointed out that there was a crisis involving school nurses in public schools. Apparently, there were just not enough nurses to go around and so sometimes some schools actually spent hours without a nurse being available. Of course, no figures were given on how this affected said schools and their students but I knew from talking to my then-step-daughter one of those effects. Whenever she was feeling hungry, she would tell the teacher that she had a stomachache and the teacher would send her to the school nurse, who would give her some candy. Needless to say, she felt better after that!

            We lurch from “crisis” to “crisis” and, as Obama said, these are all manufactured. What Obama did not talk about was an alternative. And, of course, his very speech has contributed to the phenomenon as now we can talk about “the manufactured crisis crisis!” What a country! You gotta love it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The State of the Union

The State of the Union
P. Schultz
February 13, 2013

“In a State of the Union address largely focused on economic themes, he asserted that “we can’t just cut our way to prosperity” and suggested that it is time for a more balanced approach, including accepting that government has a vital role to play in ensuring economic growth and a secure middle class. 

“Most of us agree that a plan to reduce the deficit must be part of our agenda,” Mr. Obama said. “But let’s be clear: deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan.” [From the New York Times, February 13, 2013]

OK, so here are the president’s words. Not especially controversial as near as I can tell, at least not from a viewpoint that is conventional. The president appeals for “balance.” Yes, we should cut some government spending but that will not be enough to guarantee prosperity. And, of course, a lot of people will think: “Gee, what’s wrong with that?” And as the “bickering” re-emerges in Washington, D.C., those same people will think: “What clowns we have for public officials.” And, of course, they would not be completely wrong. 

But here is a question that occurred to me. Do we need an “economic plan” more than we need a “political plan?” Is our current situation the result of “bad economics” or the result of “bad politics?” Of course, being a “political scientist,” I think the latter is more of a problem than the former. That is, it is our politics that has us messed up, even more than our economics. To focus on our economic situation and look to come up with “an economic plan” that will lessen our disgust with our current situation is delusionary. If we cannot get our politics right, then we cannot get our economics right. It is, I believe, as simple as that. 

Let me use one example of what I mean. One reason, for me a major reason, we are in the situation we are in today is because we have a war-oriented politics. And by that I don’t mean solely we have a war-making mentality when it comes to foreign policy. That is true enough and our military expenditures, which Obama barely mentioned, are humungous and delusional, both from the viewpoint of necessity or defense and from the viewpoint of what we can afford. But our war-making mentality affects our domestic politics as well, as is evident in our never ending “war on drugs” – which the drugs seem to be winning – to our war on fat and other alleged sins of many Americans. It has been recommended that we start a war on cancer and, of course, a war on global warming. And all of this is in addition to our also never ending “war on terror.” 

War-making politics is a peculiar kind of politics. It is not especially unique to the United States and it has a long history with humankind for a very good reason: It is quite seductive. Power is, always has been, and always will be seductive, far more seductive than sex or greed or gluttony. One amazing thing is how little this phenomenon is appreciated these days when it is thought, and thought by both sides of our political divide, that power is good and more power is better. The “liberals” seem to embrace governmental power, while the “conservatives” seem to embrace “private” power. But both embrace power and think that it is power, centralized, organized, magnified power that will “save the day.” 

            It is from this perspective that I argue that what we need is not “an economic plan” but rather “a political plan.” So long as we think that economic plans can “save” us, we are doomed to repeat over and over tasks that resemble that imposed on Sisyphus.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Drone Hypocrisy

Drone Hypocrisy
P. Schultz
February 9, 2013

            Some conservatives are pointing out the hypocrisy of the Obama administration’s policy of using drones to kill people, including American citizens. Good for them. Of course, they or most of them don’t condemn the policy, just the hypocrisy.

            Well, how about this for hypocrisy? How would these guys respond were China or Russian or Iran using drones as we are using ours? I would imagine then that they all, both liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, would be hypocrites! As Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha!”

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Multi-Culturalism: The Threat?

P. Schultz
February 7, 2013

This is from an email sent to be by a friend and the quotes are from an address given by a guy named Deneen at a gathering of 20 Georgetown students who met to enjoy some leisure and to discuss, apparently, the battles that need to be fought. This allowed me to elaborate on why I think that multiculturalism as it exists these days is not the threat some make it out to be. But, also, this is not a defense of that currently existing multiculturalism.

"One sees, then, how a diversity of cultures becomes the liberal form of multiculturalism. Cultural diversity in the truest sense results from internal standards and practices within cultures, and cultures collectively and cohesively provide definition of their beliefs, their practices, their customs, their ways of life. Cultures patrol their borders, defining what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, and involves distinctions between members and outsiders.

“Multiculturalism,” or – to use the updated language – “diversity” – reduces beliefs and ways of life to the level of the individual, demanding then in advance of any belief that every individual first assent and commit to a willingness to tolerate any other belief or way of life, so long as there is no threat of physical harm. What becomes intolerable are people who will not give that preliminary assent, who insist that certain standards or beliefs ought to govern in a particular context or setting. Such people need correction, restriction, or ostracism for their intolerance."

Here is the problem I have come to have with this argument made here by Deneen against multi-culturalism or diversity. It is not so much that it is wrong about the standardization that is required to fulfill the wishes of the multi-culturalists. But, hell, that is hardly unique to those guys. I mean Mahoney and Dobski certainly attack diversity but they are hardly people who seek to create an alternative to standardization. And talk about ostracism! I understand that and all because I did not toe the political line Mahoney thought I should. [Note the setting of this address: about 20 students from Georgetown got together and I bet at some posh resort to experience "leisure." How diverse is that? Bet you could find some standardization there as well.]

So, it isn't only the multi-culturalists who effectuate standardization, while praising diversity. And this brings me to my concern: the problem with relativism, the relativism that underlies the current concern with multi-culturalism, is not simply that it leads to a kind of mindless and lifeless standardization. Rather, the problem is that such relativism cannot be maintained in the real world. Nihilism, real nihilism, cannot be adopted easily, and certainly is not adopted by most professors or college students. They are just mouthing slogans because they want to be popular or successful or because they are lazy or all three. As Nietzsche's life illustrates so well, real nihilism is a project, an intense project that can only be undertaken by the few and which is apt to, as it did Nietzsche, make you crazy. As a professor of mine a long time ago said, those who profess to be relativists don't invite guests back to their homes if they suspect those guests pilfered their silverware!

And this, for me, is the most substantial danger of the alleged "relativism" around today under the guise of multi-culturalism: Under duress it disappears in a heart beat, in a "New York minute," as we use to say in Jersey. Just remember the response to 9/11: what role did relativism play in that response? None that I could detect. We went from a nation which had allegedly embraced multi-culturalism to a flag-waving, chest pounding, gun toting, well-oiled killing machine in no time flat. As relativism, multi-culturalism is about a mile wide and an inch deep. The deeper issue is, as it has always been, the human tendency toward tyranny and war, based on what is alleged to be and usually is genuinely thought to be a defense of and expansion of what is deemed to be "the truth" or the only "right" or "virtuous" way to live in the world. As I read Plato and Aristotle, and even Machiavelli, these are the phenomena, tyranny and war, that need to addressed. Human beings need to be tamed, be made gentle and peaceful and political - that is, ruling and being ruled in turn.

A false relativism is not the threat: It is what that leads to which is the threat. As Deneen senses, the question is or should be: Does modernity provide us with the means to truly tame human beings? Or does it only "re-direct" us by encouraging us to "make money" or to become "successful" and, for a few, acquire fame, while leaving those deeper passions toward tyranny and war untouched? Or to put this differently: The problem with "the last man" is that s/he isn't "last" or that s/he cannot "last." When push comes to shove, as it always does, the last men reveal their "dark side," ala' Dick Cheney, Shrub, or Obama.

The argument for leisure is not about using leisure to gear up to "do battle" with those forces you deem threatening. The argument for leisure is or should be an argument for a non- or apolitical life, a philosophic or artistic or domestic/simple life [reread the myth of Er at the end of the Republic where Odysseus chooses the simple life as his next life]. Or perhaps you might say a saintly life, ala' St. Francis.

My fear about Deneen's "retreat" is that those attending will leave seeing themselves as "warriors" out to "save" Western civilization by doing "battle" with the "multi-culturalists." And like any battle, the results will include injustices and even inhuman acts.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Status Quo: Too Much?

The Status Quo
P. Schultz
February 5, 2013

            Someone responded to one of my blogs asking “What is all this stuff about the ‘status quo’, Schultz? You make such a big deal out of that and it seems to me you make too much of it. What gives?”

            Well, in one sense, I agree with this implied criticism. That those who are holding the power, the political power, of a given “system” should try to preserve that system and their place in it, is or should be of no surprise. This is one of the most common characteristics known to human beings who are, as Aristotle pointed out, political animals. That is, human beings want to, crave rule. Those who have achieved power, especially those who have achieved great power after great effort and sacrifice, are necessarily going to try to preserve that power. So in this sense, perhaps I do make too much of this “status quo thing.”

            On the other hand, when viewed from the perspective of our current situation, including that we take pride in saying and thinking that we live in a “democracy” or a “republic,” the desire to preserve the status quo takes on a more malevolent aspect. Consider this: We have lived through some of the most interesting times, times that included the nation going to war, in Iraq, based on falsehoods and, apparently, even deliberately contrived falsehoods. This war did not go well and even appears to have been one of the most significant strategic blunders ever undertaken by this nation, with more significant consequences perhaps than even the Vietnam War. Now, one can attribute this undertaking to a particular man, George W. Bush, or a particular administration, the Bush administration, or a particular group of people, the “neo-conservatives.” But this could be wrong. That is, this undertaking could be “systemic,” the result of a “systemic bias” as many would say, much as Athenian imperialism was seen as systemic and not idiosyncratic. If this is the case or insofar as it is the case, then preserving the status quo is the equivalent of preserving a defective, which is to say an undemocratic or oligarchic and failing, system.

            That this war reflects a systemic defect is supported by the fact that the successor, Barack Obama, to the president who led us into this war did not repudiate his predecessor or his war. In fact, he embraced that war, made it his own, and did nothing, not one thing, by way of holding his predecessor to account. Why not? What did he have to lose by asking for some accountability? As his predecessor left office with the lowest “approval” ratings of any other president, even Jimmy Carter, it is difficult to see what Obama had to lose by asking for some accountability. And I am speaking of accountability and not punishment, a distinction with a rather significant difference.

            Having lived through that time, it is impossible for me to think that had George McGovern won the 1972 presidential election that he would have foregone the chance to hold Richard Nixon accountable for his conduct and expansion of the Vietnam War. This is why it was so important that McGovern not be allowed to win that election, a project that included dissing one man’s mental stability and turning McGovern into a radical, one who hailed from South Dakota. Yes, that makes sense, no? But, of course, from the perspective of the status quo, McGovern was a radical. On the other hand, Barack Obama has proven to be just another politician, more interested in preserving the prevailing alignment of forces than changing them for the sake of the betterment of the nation. That Obama has just recently agreed to make the Bush tax cuts permanent for almost all Americans only serves to solidify this assessment.

            I could discuss the economic situation as well but I believe my argument is pretty clear. What I want to emphasize is that there is a lot of evidence “out there” that the American people recognize that the current system, the current arrangement of political power and the uses to which it is put, is or should be kaput. There is the fast moving gay and lesbian realignment; there is the rejection, ever more broadly, of the war on drugs; there is the anger that is evident in but not confined to the tea party; there are the election results which illustrate that the American people did not see much difference between Mr. White Bread Romney and Mr. Almost White Bread Obama – results which most interpret as indicating that the nation is intensely divided when in fact they indicate quite the opposite, viz., agreement that the status quo is hardly worth preserving. “Romney or Obama? Oh well, might as well stick with the devil we know. At least we know how bad he is.”

            So, I would defend my concern with talking about the status quo and the apparent desire of its defenders to do most anything to preserve it. After its adventure in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union disintegrated. That system was less stable than is ours but don’t think the powers that be here are unaware of what happened in and to the Soviet Union and its incumbents. It is, they are well aware, a dangerous time for those who are benefitting from the status quo, just as it was a dangerous time after Vietnam, Richard Nixon and Watergate, and Jimmy Carter [a genuine outsider who needed “taming”]. So, Obama is, interestingly, our Ronald Reagan after all. And just as Reagan’s alleged “conservatism” did, so does the fact that Obama is “black” make it seem, or made it seem until he began to actually govern, as if we have moved beyond the status quo. But in neither case was the status quo disturbed to any significant degree. Sad to say, but the hope for change was crushed by the man who ran on a promise of hope and change.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished
P. Schultz
February 4, 2013

            Well, here it is, confirmation from the Associated Press that the mission, undertaken by establishment Republicans especially, but aided by the Democrats who share the Republicans’ motivation, has been accomplished. What was that mission? Why to preserve the status quo and, therewith, the power of those who are invested in that status quo.

“House Speaker John Boehner has shored up his political clout after a shaky month, persuading his Republican caucus to pick its fights with Democrats more strategically.

“His impressive rebound, aided by face-the-facts confrontations with colleagues, helped the government avoid a potential default on its financial obligations — for three months, at least.
“It also reassured establishment Republicans who feared the House majority was becoming so unpredictable that it endangered the party.” 

            Ah yes, the “endangered” Republican Party. Now, isn’t that the message we have been hearing since Mr. Almost White Bread beat Mr. White Bread in our latest presidential election? Time to “get on board, boys and girls.” The people have spoken and, well, the status quo it will be. Ah, and now we can all breathe a sign of relief. 

“The implications went beyond one politician’s fate. Financial markets and corporate planners were reassured when House Republicans agreed to postpone a showdown over the government’s borrowing capacity.”

            And, of course, if our “financial markets and corporate planners” are “reassured,” then the rest of us should be as well. 

            Once again, our politicians have learned – and then conveyed to us – the limitations of political action. 

“We’re too outnumbered to govern, to make policy,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-La., who had defied Boehner on votes earlier in January on the fiscal cliff and hurricane aid. “But we can make a serious impact on spending” by picking when and where to fight, Fleming said.”

            So, the Republicans will now pick and choose their fights, but of course only after the Democrats agreed to make the Bush tax cuts permanent for almost all Americans. There will be fights, no doubt, over spending but, rest assured, not much is going to change. Because after all, that is the purpose of preserving the status quo, ensuring that not much changes. Rest easy, my friends, the republic has been saved. Or has it?