Monday, February 08, 2010

To the American Right: Get a Pair, Okay??

"Freedom was attacked today, and freedom will be defended."
So said George W. Bush on September 11th, 2001. It struck me then, and still strikes me today, as fundamentally wrong.
"Freedom" was not attacked that day; symbols of American economic and military dominance were attacked. Power was attacked that day, not "freedom."

Bush's War on Terror was and is a huge mistake, and needs to be
declared null and void. Responding to the attacks of September 11th as
if they were an act of war, and not a criminal act, is giving Al Qaeda
and Osama bin Laden  precisely what they want; legitimacy as "holy
warriors" when they only deserve infamy as brutal criminals. They need
to be opposed with skilled international policing, not a big, stupid,
endless "war."

More on all that in my next post.
But there is one other thing I want to say, regardless of the above.
May I be blunt, here? The American right seriously needs to get a pair.
Begging the government to torture people who frighten you doesn't make
you a tough, clear-eyed realist; it makes you a bed-wetting, sniveling
coward who dishonors every brave American who fought to obliterate and
bring to justice Hitler's torture brigades and the rapists of Nanking.
Look -- It used to be that Americans defined their enemies as Those Who Torture:

I mean, really: What is the big, unprecedented deal about Al Qaeda
anyway? Yes, 9/11/01 sucked, and I'd definitely rather not go through
that again. That said: the extremist criminals killed just under 3000
people that day, and destroyed or damaged under 20 buildings and 4
aircraft. That was bad, no argument there...but "an enemy unlike any
other"??! Pull yourselves together.
Worse than the Civil War (a million killed and wounded)??
Worse than World War II? (Somewhere between 45 and 60 million total
killed, including up to 11 million gassed, hanged and machine-gunned by
the Nazis and Japanese, and virtually every city in central Europe and
East Asia reduced to lego-sized, smoldering fragments?)
Worse than The Cold War? I mean, think about this for a second: the
United States spent 40-odd years under the constant threat of having the entire country vaporized by ruthless, amoral totalitarians who had publicly and repeatedly vowed our destruction.
And now you're begging the government to torture people whose most recent attack amounted to some pathetic, deluded criminal failing to detonate his own underwear??
Your childish, pants-wetting cowardice would be funny in a pitiable
sort of way, except for the fact that you've convinced so many of my
fellow Americans that Torturing People Is The Only Way To Defeat The
Magically Powerful Terrorists. No, that's not funny at all: it fills me
with  shame, but also righteous rage. Osama is laughing in whatever
cave he's holed up in.

Oh - and the "Greatest Generation" you fetishize? You dishonor them
and the sacrifices they made with your pitiful cowardice. The ghosts of those who fell on a thousand battlefields (who, by the way, were really, actually Defending Freedom) have every reason to be ashamed of you.
</rant off>

Thursday, February 04, 2010

We need "More and Better **Leadership**"

Digby, yesterday:

I also think that Democrats really don't like to govern because it makes them feel exposed. They have prostituted themselves to business and adopted neo-liberal principles, but they have to pretend that they are representing working people and the poor.

Well, there's your problem right there.

If you really want your heart broken, read FDR's first or second second inaugural addresses or virtually any utterance of Harry S Truman (the ones about economics, anyway) and then compare and contrast with the current Clusterfuck That Is The Democratic Party.

I suspect a lot of this goes back to the way the left split in the late sixties; blue collar and union guys vs. the "New Left" college radicals. That split has consistently and only served one constituency well, really; the rich. It is worth remembering that the central, core, consensus issues that have united the left's most dominant constituency (the New Deal coalition) were economic in character.

The consensus left position was simple, and went like this: It is legitimate and necessary to use the power of the central government (through progressive taxation, income redistribution and support for labor) to restrain the tendency of big business to concentrate wealth in the hands of the elite few, and thus provide social and economic stability.

See? Simple.

Everything else needs to flow from that crucial, central, distictive-to-the-left premise - and when it does, suddenly the national conversation starts to change. The Republican Party says we need tax cuts to stimulate the economy; the Democrats point out that the Republicans have been trying that for years, and really just want to give more money to their rich friends and weaken the government's ability to stick up for working folks, but we Democrats want to pass a big jobs bill to give our constituency, ordinary Joes and Janes, a chance to practice their legendary work ethic and provide a nice life for their children.

Like that.

In short, I and Digby and (to some extent) Paul Kruigman and others have been calling for the Democratic Party to take the golden opportunity of the current crisis to break out the economic populist rhetoric to sell economic populist policies.

This would seem to be an obvious and winning strategy that could plausibly lead to a couple generations of electoral and ideological dominance. So, why are we not seeing it?

What has happened is that the Democratic Party leadership has become corrupted by proximity and fealty to the wealth and power of our economic elites. Incrementalism and pressuring the current bunch has not worked, because they are too corrupted; we need new and better leadership. It's time to clean house. The leadership has failed us. It's time to acknowledge that and replace them.