Tuesday, March 03, 2009

HOW IT ALL HAPPENED

Every once in a bit it’s good to step back and take a look at the Big Picture. There are now frequent such attempts to look at where the economy went wrong, and efforts to look at where the War on Terror went wrong have been around for some time.

For the record, here’s my take on things.

In 1948 the Truman Administration founded the National Security State which required that the government “scare hell out of the American people” so that they would see a ‘reason’ for the dual development of governmental intrusions in domestic affairs and the lives of the citizenry and of governmental expansion of the military as its primary weapon in the Cold War. In that same year Truman, facing a difficult election, chose to recognize the new State of Israel immediately and without question, saying that he had no “Arab voters” to worry about; he had been advised against it by diplomatic opinion around the world, which worried that the Israeli presence would only exacerbate the Middle East region and was ultimately fated to fail, though only after much bloodshed.

In 1965, LBJ signed off on the Voting Rights Act in the first week of July, while simultaneously fearing that he had ‘lost the South’ politically ‘for a generation’. Almost immediately the ‘Southern’ civil-rights movement hallmarked by Martin Luther King’s spiritually-based, inclusive and non-violent call to national right-doing was vividly undermined by the Watts riots, and along with King, Johnson and the Democrats were also fatally undermined. In the same year, Betty Friedan likened woman’s place in the American home and family to “Dachau”. And Seymour Melman reported that the American industrial infrastructure was now aging and losing its vitality because too much capital was going into military development and not available for investment in industry; other nations’ industrial infrastructures started to surpass America’s.

In 1967, as a US Navy ship was being repeatedly attacked by Israeli jets and attack boats and crew members were dying, LBJ ordered the rescue jets from US carriers turned back because he needed the Israelis as his agents and ‘allies’ against the Soviets in the Middle East (where all the oil was). Johnson also had no ‘Arab voters’, but he had ‘lost the South’ and he knew that he, like Truman, had – ummmmm – an other type of voter. And the government pursued its intention of instituting a massive program of ‘affirmative action’; it was said to be essential to affirmatively engage ‘racial quotas’ but that the program would only need to be temporary, lasting perhaps seven years or so, a decade at the most.

By 1968, the Democrats were faced with a Vietnam that was now irretrievably gone down the tubes. And also with a civil-rights movement that had evolved into a second, ‘Northern’ phase that rejected King (killed in April of that year) and instead emphasized violence, racial exclusivity, and revolution, and whose public stance was not to make exhortations but rather to ‘issue demands’. Worse, the Democrats found to their horror that not only had the South turned against them – as they had expected – but the working-class voters from the Northeast had also turned against them, thereby not only dealing a lethal blow to FDR’s New Deal coalitions but exposing the Democrats to the possibility of implosion as a viable political Party.

In 1969 the US domestic oil industry first became unable to meet national demand and the country began to import oil.

In 1970 other national economies began to surpass the US economy in various measures of output or achievement.

In 1971 Nixon abrogated the Bretton Woods agreements, and started to ‘float’ the dollar. There was a ‘sugar shortage’ that seemed to come out of nowhere which, among other things, tripled the cost of a candy bar because of the ‘emergency’. Almost immediately afterwards, there was a ‘beef shortage’ that raised the price of sirloin from around 40 cents a pound up over a dollar. Both the Cuban-American sugar growers of Florida and Louisiana and the Western cattle owners were groups that had supported the Republicans politically.

Also in 1971, on July 2, there arrives the 26th Amendment, granting 18-year-olds the right to vote. This is another in the Dem policy of raising up replacement voting blocs, ‘demographics’, Identities. But voters who aren’t even old enough to drink (and will turn out to be only a day past the ‘childhood’ of sex-offense laws) are a dubious proposition. Youth’s gifts do not include deliberation, patience, circumspection, prudence, and a large body of experience upon which to draw upon when analyzing a proposition for its possibilities, negative and positive, and its possible consequences, ditto. This will have an even more significant effect on the level of national political discourse, on electoral strategies, and on the quality of public thinking. Nor did anyone bother to recall that it was precisely among the young that Hitler was most successful in attracting voluntary adherents – their unthinking, eager, ready enthusiasm was precisely what the Reich was looking for in its citizens and agents. Each of the four great replacement ‘Identities’ raised up by the Democrats – the second and revolutionary phase of the black civil-rights movement, the Second Wave of feminism’s version of ‘women’, the young, and the Jewish vote (wooed by a unilateral government embrace of the State of Israel) – would have a significant effect on the quality of political thinking and discourse … long before the likes of Atwater and Rove. *

In 1972 the Democrats declared themselves “the party of women”. The South was gone; the ‘working class’ was upset both with A) the Democrats’ increasing embrace of whatever ‘demands’ that the civil-rights movement (the Northern or violent phase) and the emerging women’s movement were making, and B) with the queasy, rubbery, un-solid sense which was now becoming palpable if not obvious in the national economy. Identity Politics was now establishing its dynamics at the highest levels of national policy as the Democrats sought to cement their relationship with the two new Identities of ‘blacks’ and ‘women’ (and to some extent Native Americans, though they were not a numerous voting bloc – for historically obvious reasons). A budding Political Correctness – widely adopted by the media – made it difficult to conduct public discourse about the positive aspects of anything that the Identities’ representatives wanted to end or the negative aspects of anything that the Identities’ representatives wanted to initiate.

In 1973, following a belated Israeli victory (with American help) in another Middle East war the oil-producing nations, many of them Arab, formed OPEC.

In 1974 the first ‘gas shortage’ developed. Oil prices started climbing, first breaking fifty cents a gallon and then – despite media assurances that such an increase was temporary – a dollar a gallon. They have never stopped climbing (except for the last six months, which are reported to be the calm before the storm).

In or about 1975 mention first began to be made of ‘diversity’, which was revealed to be the proposition that many ‘minorities’ – not simply the black community – needed to participate in affirmative action quotas; the reason for this was that the country was too ‘white’ (and ‘male’) and that such diversity would be good for the country. No attention was paid to the dark assumption underlying this: that the existence of any minority of any kind indicated a fundamental injustice requiring government intervention in the society and the culture – a presumption with ominous consequences for a democratic society.

After all, if there is a ‘majority’ of anything in any respect, there has to be a ‘minority’ of the same thing in the same respect. But the danger was: if it is assumed that anybody can do anything, then if there is a situation where fewer numbers of somebody are not doing something, that can only be – according to the presumptions – because the fewer numbers are the proof-positive result of skullduggery. And the government – courtesy of the Dems – seeps in, or floods in, to ‘fix’ that, to uncover the skullduggery and its perpetrators. Anywhere, everywhere, anytime, all the time. That’s going to have ominous consequences for a democratic politics and a democratic society.

In 1976, with Jimmy Carter elected as a ‘peoples’ candidate through the working of the newly-restructured Democratic Party electoral rules, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, the old-fashioned boss of Capitol Hill, chose to conduct a power-struggle with the ‘people’s President’, and worked to block Carter’s initiatives, though Carter was a President from O’Neill’s own Party. O’Neill conceived, and then strong-armed corporations into accepting, Political Action Committees (PACs) as a form of contributing to individual Members of Congress; the sweetener was that such contributions would ensure friendly consideration from the pols on Capitol Hill. The pols thereby set up the game they would play even unto the present day: pander to the Identities no matter what wjackery they 'demanded' while collecting hefty cash payments from the corporations through PACs - the 'voter' no longer really figured into the scheme at all.

In 1977 in San Francisco Harvey Milk and the mayor of San Francisco were shot and killed in City Hall by a disgruntled former city official. That gentleman would offer as a defense at his trial that he had been rendered temporarily insane by ingesting too much processed sugar in fast foods and junk food – the so-called ‘Twinkie defense’; the most disturbing part of the whole thing was that a jury of reputedly average reasonable American adults accepted the defense.

Also in 1977 Alex Haley’s “Roots” made a huge splash as a book and TV movie, predicated in part on Haley’s search for his own African ancestry and getting back in touch with it, including the testimony of a native ‘griot’. Doubts arose and were pooh-poohed, and shouted down as ‘incorrect’ and ‘insensitive’. It was not until 1993 that it was established even by Haley that things were not quite so, and that – among other things - the ‘griot’ had been coached. Despite that the defense was made that Haley’s assertions were “essentially if not factually true”, similar to Andrea Dworkin’s assertion that she didn’t need ‘facts’ because she relied upon her own ‘experience’. “Facts” began to “not matter”. Noticing that ‘facts’ did not add up, or even doubting the asserted ‘facts’ became ‘incorrect’ and a no-no. The almost inevitable effects on public discourse were not noted by any of the ‘elites’. **

In 1980 the film “Ordinary People” depicted such an ‘ordinary’ family as living in a toney suburb, owning a high-performance foreign car, headed by a father who was an architect and who had a computer at home on his desk(!). It dealt not with issues of social-justice such as in the 1930s “Grapes of Wrath”, but rather with the family dynamics and assorted personal pains of the perfect-toothed individual members of this ‘ordinary’ family. It was considered very ‘sensitive’ and ‘insightful’; it was clearly a work of therapeutic insight rather than of traditional American economic and class insight.

In 1980, with Reagan’s election, O’Neill declared ‘bipartisanship’ to be the Democrats’ primary value; any ‘opposition’ in affairs foreign or domestic would be in essence suppressed, although some harrumphing and braying would be occasionally made in order to keep up appearances.

In the mid-‘80s the Savings-and-Loan scandal suddenly revealed massive financial malfeasance by major elements of the banking and entrepreneurial community, despite the existence of government regulations and regulators. Billions in taxpayer funds went to clean up the mess. Adults started to show up in jobs that had been traditionally taken by teens for pocket money.

In the mid-‘80s the ‘pre-school sex abuse’ mania started up; numerous children were believed to be sexually abused by day-care center providers around the nation, and many children ‘testified’ thus after leading and manipulative questioning by self-termed ‘experts’ and assorted law-enforcement personnel. Only when children reported adults in dragon suits and other exotic garb and some ‘raped’ children were found to be intact did things slow down, and many of the convicted were then exonerated and released from years of confinement. No significant connection was made between the newly-popular day-care centers and the national explosion of the number of families where both parents now had to work in order to make ends meet or for other reasons, or single-parent families where the parent had no other alternative but day-care. The numbers of abused tykes were said to be in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps – it was put forth – millions.

In 1985 one Lenore Weitzman, in her book about divorce "The Divorce Revolution, asserted that post-divorce men experienced a 73% increase in income while women (and the children, since custody was almost always awarded to the woman) experienced a 42% decrease. Questions immediately arose as to her figures and her research notes, which she refused for quite a long time to make available for scientific examination and corroboration. It was later discovered, after she finally had to make her research notes public, that she had used an absurdly small population (228 couples in Los Angeles) and had, among other things, failed to include costs to the man including alimony, child support, mortgage payments on the house that he no longer lived in. Despite that her figures continued to be used, she was invited by feminist advocates to address state legislatures, her figures were cited in appeals court decisions, and in 1996 – fully exposed – she was yet invited by Bill Clinton to speak in Washington. Not only ‘facts’, but accuracy and truth, no longer mattered, even to courts and legislators.**

In 1987 the Tawana Brawley case held public attention: a missing black teen was found smeared with excrement and scantily clothed; she claimed to have been abducted and raped by several white males, among whom were law enforcement figures. Al Sharpton among others raised the case up into national consciousness, with an eager media providing the public exposure.When it was finally discovered to be a hoax devised to cover the girl’s absence from home, Politically Correct opinion, led by Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, insisted that it didn’t make any difference whether she was actually raped or not since the most important element of the matter was its symbolism in calling attention to ‘white male oppression’. Naturally, the 'numbers' of such oppressive incidents was said to be stratospheric.

In 1988 in the Persian Gulf a state-of-the-art radar system on one of the Navy’s newest cruisers shot down an Iranian passenger jet, killing all aboard. It turned out that the system, hugely expensive, was only designed to distinguish between assorted military targets, and could not distinguish civilian from military aircraft, even though the civilian craft was transponding its identity. The crew of the cruiser did not want to override the computer’s assessment of the situation and fired the missile. If there was a lesson to be learned about thinking very carefully and conducting careful analysis before sending military forces into situations other than outright war, that lesson was not learned.

In 1990, in August, Saddam Hussein, the US protégé in the Iran-Iraq war, invaded Kuwait to shore up his ailing finances which had been sorely depleted by the eight-year war against the Iranians. While the US provided the bulk of the forces sent against him, public concern about US inability to foot the bill for such a large operation was allayed when other large economies, the Japanese among them, offered to pay for the operations in lieu of sending large military contingents. In the military equivalent of a fairy-tale scenario, Saddam obligingly kept his forces locked into static position, taking no action whatsoever, as the US took months to assemble the bulk of its Army and support forces and position them perfectly (a replay of the French Army doing nothing as the Germans prepared their next move in the Sitzkrieg of 1939-1940 on the Western Front). Saddam’s important role in the ensuing American victory was never recognized.

In 1991 the USSR dissolved itself, ending the Cold War.

In 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey the Supreme Court continued the legal fiction that a woman’s grounds for abortion could include health grounds; the criteria for ‘health’ might extend to include nothing more serious than a desire not to carry the developing fetus to term. Acknowledging the weakness of Roe’s legal reasoning, the Court nonetheless refused to overturn that case with its basis in flawed legal reasoning because many women had come to depend on the advantages that Roe afforded them. The fetus would have no right (or reason) to depend on the women, apparently.

In 1993 Bill Clinton took office.

Throughout the early ‘90s, ‘business’ changed: rather than a number of older, more experienced adults running businesses that produced goods, younger hotshots simply ‘acquired’ new businesses in an leveraged buy-outs, not because they knew how to or even intended to produce goods, but simply to reap the revenues generated by effecting the acquisition and buyout transactions. Rather than take this as a symptom of something going fundamentally wrong in the economy, ‘experts’ declared that this was an entirely new type of ‘economy’, one based on F.I.R.E (finance, insurance, real estate) rather than on producing tradable goods for the domestic and world markets. This new economy would not require ‘masculine’ skills like the ‘old’ industrial goods-producing economy, but instead would be a push-button, conference and negotiation and transactional paperwork economy, producing ‘ideas’ rather than goods, and requiring only a knowledge-class and a service-class, thereby keeping ‘the women’ happy since the new ‘work’ would not be ‘masculine’, and setting the fate of many of the new immigrants who would provide the cleaning, delivery, and nanny services. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans took exception.

In the early 1990s a disturbing number of studies began to find that the majority of domestic violence initiators were the female of the dyad, a fact not refuted but shouted-down by relevant advocates. It was not noted that there was a disturbing similarity to a standard Israeli publicity gambit of not refuting facts but rather disparaging the researchers or those who had the temerity to raise unpleasant and inconvenient facts. At this time, Naomi Wolf in her book “The Bonding Myth” asserted that 150,000 females a year died of anorexia, a ‘fact’ repeated by Gloria Steinem and numerous others. A check of Center for Disease Control figures revealed that in 1983 101 deaths from anorexia were reported, 67 in 1988, and 54 in 1991. After much shouting-down, the advocates then asserted that “up to 70” deaths were misdiagnosed as ‘heart failure’, leaving un-addressed the remaining 149, 500-odd asserted ‘deaths’. Pressed for her basis for the numbers, one advocate refused, claiming that the figures were “for the guidance of advocates” and apparently nobody else’s business – although it was the advocates who had taken public the number “150,000” in the first place.

Huge numbers were now being thrown out into the public forum, and used as a basis for laws and court cases, by legislators and judges, although they appeared to be completely fabricated and their advocates refused to make their research and methods public. I repeat here what I have said on this site before: Bush and Cheney must have looked at all this and figured, in 2001, that the entire spectrum of American culture – public, legislators, judges, media, intellectual elites and academics – would accept just about any numbers or assertions that were placed before them – with consequences We are now seeing, in blood, death, and destruction, including thousands of soldiers, and untold hundreds of thousands of civilians, mostly women and children. And the squandering of America’s moral capital in the world community. And the squandering of hundreds of billions – probably two trillions and more – of dollars that We cannot afford.

And in 1994, the ‘Violence Against Women Act’ – part of a larger crime bill – was passed, thereby involving the police power of the government in the very hearths of the citizenry; it was based on the fear that many persons, particularly women, felt in relationships that they themselves participated in or even initiated. Parts of the Act were later found to be unconstitutional; Joe Biden, a major supporter of the Bill and Act, had defended it even before the court challenges, claiming that “it may be a bad law but it sends a great message”.

In 1996 the rare outrage of a child’s abduction by a sexually deranged adult resulted in the explosion of the sex-offender laws, whose requirements for Soviet-style ‘registration’ and Chinese-Communist-style psychiatric confinement were justified on the basis of the legal fiction that they were not ‘punitive’ but only ‘administrative’, ‘rehabilitative’ and in the service of public safety. Lincoln’s observation came to mind: in response to Southerners who claimed that slavery was ‘good’, he observed that this was a most unusual and extraordinary ‘good’ that nobody wanted for themselves but that they were most desirous to see imposed on others. It was not noted that the whole mania coincided with the large number of children not under the direct care of their both-working parents or single-parent for long periods of time during the day or evening. Nor were local-media discoveries as to the misrepresentation perpertated by the initial set of parents allowed to interfere; nor were the huge 'numbers' provided provided by 'advocates' subjected to analysis.

In 1996 Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act which, among other things, allowed a few large single owners to control numerous media outlets. He also, as noted above, hosted the discredited Lenore Weitzman in Washington.

In 1999, Bill Clinton signed the Act repealing the restrictions imposed by the post-Depression Glass-Steagall Act. With the industrial base gone, the pols on Capitol Hill had no ‘economy’ to keep the citizenry ‘happy’ and found themselves completely beholden to the economic elites to provide even the semblance of an economy.

In late 2000, the Supreme Court intervened on the flimsiest of legal fictions (a gambit at which it was proving quite adept and experienced) in the Presidential election and by stopping a crucial recount, effectively created George W. Bush as the winner and next President.

On September 11, 2001 airline hijackers, primarily Saudi, destroyed the WTC towers in Manhattan. Although the performance of all responsible agencies of the Federal Government – from the FBI and CIA to the Presidency itself – was hugely dubious, the public’s attention was distracted by the President’s immediate erection of a Global War on Terror. As part of his hugely enhanced powers as a reputed ‘war President’, which were then further declared to be limitless by the workings of a quasi-monarchical theory called the “Unitary Executive”, Bush ensured that public opinion would not only be distracted but its access to information about the workings of the government and Administration suppressed.

In 2002, the now unregulated F.I.R.E sector created a Bubble based on shuffling around packages of far too easily-granted mortgages. The citizenry was distracted happily by a huge expansion of domestic credit based on the ever-increasing ‘value’ of their mortgaged homes. The coincidence between the sudden ‘wealth’ enjoyed by citizens of all classes and the distraction from both the investigation of the 9-11 failures and the monitoring of the war then being brewed inside the Beltway was not widely noted. An economy now hugely diminished in its productive industrial goods-making capacities, yet required to provide employment not only for males but for females and increasing numbers of immigrants, had reached the point where it was simply creating ‘wealth’ based on a bubble willfully conjured by financiers and – I have to believe – knowingly abetted by A) a Congress that had no effective plans of its own and didn’t really want that fact widely discussed and B) an Executive that simply wanted the public distracted from investigating either its past malfeasances or its present plans for aggressive invasive war.

In 2003 an invasion of Iraq was effected on what proved to be false pretenses of WMD, although from the very beginning the possibility of the secularist dictator Saddam Hussein being in cahoots with religious fundamentalists seeking to erect theocratic government was hugely dubious on its face. It was then claimed that the purpose of the invasion was to bring ‘democracy’ to Iraq, although if invasive war is a preferred method of instituting ‘democracy’, then there were a large number of regimes in need of change whose overthrow would have been far less militarily complex than Iraq’s.

But no other country in the Middle East or anywhere else provided what an Occupied Iraq could provide: a ‘place at the table’ in the now-crucial oil-heartlands of the planet / for a seriously declining hegemon with huge international debt and no means of ever paying it off / and an unslakable thirst for cheap oil in a world where the increasing demands of developing national economies much closer to that oil would only drive up the price / and with a perennially besieged ‘ally’ state in the Middle East erected through invasive force and violence, supported in the interests of the hegemon’s domestic politics, that was in desperate need of decisive strategic support / and a perfect political ‘cover’ for its ‘Griff Nach der Ol-Macht’ in the confluence of Rightist and Fundamentalist ‘patriotism’ and so-called ‘liberal’ “humanitarian intervention” and the applied merits of the public’s rage and ‘pain’ over the 9-11 attacks .

And on top of that, the Bubble created by the mortgages wouldn’t last forever and then what to tell the American citizenry? Tell them that the last 40 years of the government’s stewardship had resulted in a fractious domestic cultural civil war fueled by vastly untruthful figures and driven by crass political expediency that had effectively balkanized and dumbed-down the citizenry and prevented its operating as The People, to the detriment of an economy whose decline was then ignored by the stewards and hidden from the public, which was itself distracted first by those core cultural controversies and then by blizzards of unsecured ‘credit’ that lured vast numbers of citizens into a Little Big Horn of personal debt while blissfully imagining that America’s winning streak would not only last but increase?

The key to saving the whole game would be a quick and decisive victory in Iraq – ‘victory’ defined as beheading the Iraqi government and creating for all intents and purposes an American protectorate or ‘wholly owned allied government’ that would put the patina of legality on that marvelous strategic possession of the Iraqi oil that would solve all the Beltway’s problems – foreign, domestic, financial - in a single stroke. Maybe Iran could then be taken – that would make things even better and would keep the Israeli ‘ally’ happy, the Israel whose PACs provided the perfect conduit to kick back to the pols taxpayer cash that the pols had originally sent to Israel to begin with. What was not to like?

In 2009, with the quick and decisive victory bungled away (if indeed it were ever possible to begin with), and the economic Bubble having burst and the citizenry reduced to a level of risk which it was not fitted to handle well, and Iran now in a far stronger position relative to the much-diminished former hegemon, the Beltway has few options: since it absolutely must retain a place – some place – ‘at the table’ for the indefinite future, then Afghanistan is left as the only usable pretext. However, with no ‘victory’ (an impossible outcome in any event) in Afghanistan capable of being strategically decisive as to the control of oil, and with the prospects of continued military dominance on the world stage starting to fade perceptibly, then the US will have to find a way to make the rest of the world respect its power – or else be reduced to a regional power itself, and possibly a bankrupt one. Afghanistan offers no strategic answers, but provides a temporary excuse for staying around in the neighborhood until – as Mr. Micawber might say – something ‘turns up’. Uncle Sam is now Mr. Micawber. That can’t be good.

The ‘Global War On Terror’ was a fiendishly clever justification for what the Beltway knew the US was now going to have to become in any case: a bankrupt former-hegemon resorting to world-class, world-wide strong-arming and hold-ups to keep up appearances and the payments on all its stuff. But I don’t think that the Beltway ever imagined it would fail so badly on the very first phase of its plan. That’s the Beltway’s fault: no odds-maker in Las Vegas would ever have given good odds for the Plan anyway – which is part of the reason it was all so hush-hush.

That, and the fact that the Beltway has been planning the type of thing that Imperial Japan and post-Weimar Germany paid terribly for having done. (Also that bald Italian guy with the great set of uniforms.)

And the US must resurrect its industrial, goods-producing capacity, and will have to single-mindedly focus all national attention on that project so as to achieve it (or re-achieve it, alas) as soon as possible. This is not a case of ‘turning back the clock’ but rather as coming back onto the solid roadway from a feckless, witless, half-addled foray off the road into the ‘shortcut’ of a swamp.

This will be hard to do without having to disarm the ‘outrage’ of the Advocacies that their several ‘revolutions’ are being ‘sold out’. It will risk having to admit that a great deal if not most of the ‘creative destruction’ – culturally even more than financially – of the past several decades has been greatly mistaken; hugely fraught with lethally negative consequences if not actually a mostly baaad idea from the get-go. It will take consummate political skill to manipulate events so as to prevent such a showdown and such a bald statement of fact. As things stand now, We desperately need facts, while We also desperately need to avoid being distracted by facts.

The solution will be to keep the focus on the actually important facts rather than on the symbolically important facts. At this stage, this will require skills long-neglected among the citizenry, the media, and the government Branches themselves: dealing with the Actual instead of the Symbolic.

All in all, the intentional use of fear, outrage / through the use of hugely dishonest assertions and numbers / to create ‘emergencies’ of various sorts / that can stampede the citizenry / into acquiescing in the most dangerous expansions of government power / aided and abetted by a media that both avoids substantial and skeptical analysis and indulges in partisan coverage tailored to its owners’ calculations of their best corporate interests / while the citizenry allows itself to be distracted from its crucial task of functioning as The People / while considerations of Party and personal advancement overwhelm any responsibility legislators and public officials might feel for ensuring first and foremost the common weal …

These, I would say, are the highlights of what has gone wrong.

Obama can’t solve all of this, and certainly not overnight. Nor can every interest can get what it wants, and even if he is going to give one or another ‘interest’ something that it wants, he’s not going to be able to say so clearly. This is going to upset the Advocacies who are used to being pandered to; the wealthy and the corporate interests who are used to getting their cash in the form of financial and tax legislation while they make whatever money is left to be made on what’s left of the economy; the PAC contributors who are used to getting what they have paid for; and the media who are not used to having to think things through to figure out what’s really going on and where things are really headed.

I don’t know how much time We have left afloat, but watching all these folks try to deal with the new world order of 2009 should provide much food for thought and meditation.

I’m still going with supporting Obama as he picks his way through this vast and intricate minefield, the one that We have been sowing for decades now. If he can’t do it … there won’t be any real chance left.

NOTES

*There were other Identities among the replacement demographics: gays, lesbians, and the disabled and the elderly are notable among them. By 2000, We were a nation indeed more solicitous of ‘creativity’ and ‘sensitivity’ than of ‘productivity’ – as Bateson had hoped would happen as far back as 1990 (see the immediately previous Post).

You have to ask yourself what Congress was thinking when it allowed – indeed abetted – such an assault not only on the national ethos and culture but also on the very heart and soul of national ‘productivity’. In fact, it might be accurate to imagine that the ‘outsourcing’ of jobs did not precede, but rather was enabled by, the general assault on the culture of productivity and those who for the entire life of the nation had provided it – the workers, supported indispensably by the institutions of marriage and family.

If so, then the assault on the ‘work ethic’ and on ‘men’ in general, resulted in consequences that were treacherously evaded by A) creating the supremely fatuous fantasy of a world-hegemon supporting itself on merely on ‘knowledge and ideas’ and ‘service’ rather than the production of marketable goods; and B) creating a ‘substitute’ economy – a bubble economy – that provided the ‘appearance’ of economic competency and wealth even though the actual bases for such competence and wealth were eroding, and eroding under the pressure of a Beltway-supported ‘war’ against what the Identities were pleased to call “the dominant culture”.

So many turkeys are now come home to roost: the ‘valorizing’ of ‘symbolic’ over ‘real’, of appearances over fact, of the narrowly and baldly political over the common weal, of political gain and power over truth and truthfulness. And in all of this, the utter evasion of consequences, from the simple consequence of having to conform one’s actions to proven facts to the abyssally more challenging consequences of having to face up to the wreck after so much damage has been done by willfully ignoring facts and truth – to lives and to nations (including Our own), such that only the most sustained spiritual maturity and strength can bear up to the duties now required.

**For a stunning and comprehensive compilation of such dubious figures and assertions, and how even when finally exposed they were still retained as valid in public and elite discourse, see the combined 1200 pages of investigation and analysis in Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young’s two books “Spreading Misandry” (2001) and “Legalizing Misandry” (2006), published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. Jean Bethke Elshtain's review of the latter is here.

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