Tuesday, 2 August 2011

‘We have an agreement’

Has there been a bleaker moment in our adult lives where the forces of decency have looked so rudderless, so bereft of leadership? The Grand Bargain arranged by Obama seals the teabagger triumph as we officially declare government to be the enemy of virtue and worthy of being smothered at the altar of capitalist anarchy. Any and all attempts to ease the suffering of the powerless is to be considered suspect; wealth is to be worshiped unblinkingly; and even our increasingly futile exercises of democracy are now to be subordinated to a select ‘super Congress’, which will decide on the contents of our pocketbooks and, ultimately, the contours of our collective fate.

If gridlock, i.e., resistance from those affected, gums up the works, the cuts go through automatically. This from a Congress and a White House that can’t address Senate filibusters or permit appointments to the federal judiciary to occur automatically if a single member chooses to hold them up.

Needless to say, this complete collapse of opposition to the rule of the obscenely rich could only have occurred under a Democratic presidency. No McCain or Romney would have been able to deliver the national turkey trussed and ready for carving with the thoroughly cynical aplomb displayed by Mr Hope’n’Change. Under a GOP regime, those eager to fight would have had a rallying center of sorts instead of being immediately cast as petulant teens unwilling to accede to the reasonable demands of our increasingly goofy Ward Cleaver-in-chief.

The Voices of Reason are telling us not to worry so much, or ‘talking us back from the ledge’, as one Serious Person put it Monday. Fear not, the cuts this year are minor, the details aren’t yet worked out, concessions have been made that can be recouped later. Ha ha ha. Does anyone seriously think Bush’s ‘temporary’ tax cuts won’t be extended indefinitely when they are next due to expire? Are there still people gullible enough to think Obama truly, secretly opposes them?

We whistle along foolishly, however, if we think for a minute that this ignominious collapse and unconditional surrender to the neo-Confederates will satisfy them. Empowered by their successful threats to suicide-bomb the nation’s accounts into smithereens, al-Qaeda on the Potomac will now set its lustful sights on new targets.

It’s impossible to predict what those might be, but let us not forget that the election of our first black president was never accepted as legitimate by the race reactionaries empowered by the opportunistic GOP leadership and enabled by the cost-free rewards Obama continues to grant them. Obama dreams if he thinks pandering to their selfish desires will rehabilitate him in their eyes. Beneath the surface of the phony war over whether or not to further bipartisanly impoverish the defenseless is a quite real drumbeat of reaction based on clan, color and narrow nationalism. Norway provides a recent example.

Lest we slip into the now mainstream view that Mr Breivik is a lone nut representing no social tendencies, note that blogmeister Pam Geller, the main force behind the Ground Zero Mosque smear (who likes to call Obama ‘President Jihad’), thinks Breivik’s victims would have grown up to become ‘future leaders of the party responsible for flooding Norway with Muslims who refuse to assimilate, who commit major violence against Norwegian natives including violent gang rapes, with impunity, and who live on the dole’.

[caption from Geller’s blog to photo at right: ‘Note the faces which are more Middle Eastern or mixed than pure Norwegian’].

Geller didn’t exactly say the slaughtered teens got what they deserved, but her website briefly featured this photo helpfully pointing out that many of the dead had suspect racial characteristics. The Norwegian Labor Party was not holding a ‘summer camp’ on the island of death, she insisted, but an ‘anti-Israel indoctrination training center’. (Perhaps if it had been a drone attack, she could cheer openly.) Geller is not another marginal wackjob—the extreme right has absorbed those margins and largely erased them.

The examples proliferate: Colorado Tea Bagger Congressman Doug Lamborn compared Obama to a ‘tar baby’ yesterday, another blatantly racist trope that has become mainstream in Republican discourse.

No, we are not headed for a national socialist putsch, and we do not live in a fascist state. But by further crushing the struggling middle and lower classes through the disastrous debt deal, Obama piles fuel onto the already vigorous fires of irrationality and scapegoating fanned enthusiastically by Geller, O’Reilly, Buchanan & Co. with unpredictable consequences. Obama’s immigration policies are punitive and draconian, his security apparatus eagerly hounding Arabs with police-state tools at their command, and his all-out war on whistle-blowers weakening internal dissent. All that is missing from the mix is a relapse into recession and the end of any possibility of gainful employment for the one-sixth of the working-age population that is desperately awaiting the jobs recovery that no one on Capitol Hill seems any longer to care about.

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