Friday, November 30, 2012

Custer,  Bluster,  and diminished luster

As the old saying goes, "Denial is a river in Egypt", and the Republicans  are still somewhere between the Gaza Strip and Benghazi in their river of deep denial.
      They would have you believe that Mitt Romney lost because he was not a  good enough snake oil salesmen. It apparently does not matter to them that the snake oil he was selling was more like cyanide for the middle class than castor oil, which is always good for what ails you. The voters refused to drink the Kool Aid.
    In the end, as it turns out, the American people were just not as stupid as the Republicans thought. They couldn't be bought. They couldn't be bamboozled, and they would not let their votes be suppressed. They showed up when it really mattered, and it did matter. Elections always matter. They also have consequences.
     We have seen the great wealth of this country be disproportionately husbanded by those at the top of the scale in ways that are reminiscent of the old Robber baron days. One joke making the rounds is that the CEO of Hostess twinkies calls a final meeting with the union boss and one representative worker. There are a dozen Twinkies  on the table. The CEO walks off with 11 of the twinkies and says to the employee, " You'd better watch out for that union guy, or he'll eat most of your twinkie".
     There are the greedy pizza barons who live in multi million dollar mega mansions, but are threatening to lay off their employees if they have to invest 12 cents per pizza of their profit in employee health care. There are the coal barons who are laying off their miners because they didn't work hard enough to produce , not coal, but votes, for the one percenter agenda.
     It is reminiscent of the slaveholder mentality which caused us to take up arms against one another to defend the right of some men to enslave others in pursuit of profit. Has our civil war never really ended? What's wrong with this picture? Who is painting our political landscape?
     The answer is not surprising. It is the small cadre of omnipotent oligarchs who place their greed above the good of the planet and their fellow human beings. They have tried to buy their way into the think tanks and the universities to manipulate the national agenda, and to deny anything or anyone who stands in the way of their unbridled self aggrandizement and hubristic hegemony. They have sprinkled the fairy dust of social issues among the great unwashed to insure that people vote against their own economic issues. They have tried to manipulate the numbers of those who vote, so that their agenda is vouchsafed for their undemocratic plutocratic dominance.
     They have failed to achieve success on the national level, but they have achieved some degree of success in manipulating the Congress and many state legislatures to champion their causes. They have done so by rigging the bidding process and drawing the lines of The Congressional and state legislative districts in such a way as to insure their success. They have further undermined democracy by opening up the flood gates of political bribery, ala Citizens "Un-United". They are acting like the Joker in a Batman movie sequel, and there seems to be no stopping point. It is a far flung and semi successful conspiratorial effort to bend the will of the majority to advance their cause, and the real joke is that they have done so while invoking the concept of liberty and justice for all. That is the ultimate irony, and the joke is on us.
     Give me you tired, your poor, your weary, your befuddled masses, and we shall manipulate them to our advantage, and crush any hopes they might have to climb the socioeconomic ladder. Their philosophy is ' I've got mine the hell with you, and if you try to climb up into this boat on that rope ladder, I'll Step on your fingers". The other side's philosophy is more like " I've got mine, how can I help you get yours"!
     The American people are not stupid.  They have made their choice. It is now up to the losers to show some grace and some common sense, and to remember that there are still many more things that bind us together than divide us. The American dream still beckons for us all. Clearly, we need to trim the budget, and pay down the deficit as well. The solvency solution is broader than just raising taxes on the well to do. But, If the Custer-like last stand of a defeated Republican agenda really is to hold out against tax hikes for the top two per cent of the country, the moral bankruptcy of that position will end up bankrupting us all. Lord have mercy. We deserve better than that.

Monday, November 26, 2012

  Challenge lies in finding way to meet in middle

PITTSBURG, Kan. — To secede or not secede should not be the question. Whether ’tis nobler to suffer the indignity of losing an election, without much recourse for the next four years, or to just throw in the towel, or move to Canada is not the reality of choice we citizens face.

The real challenge lies in finding ways to meet in the middle and avoid driving off the cliff like Thelma and Louise.

I am old. I have actually lived through and voted in 11 presidential elections. Sometimes I have been happy about the results, and sometimes I have been sad. As I told my students, sometimes you are the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug. Elections have winners and losers (usually), and elections do have consequences. Majority rule does indeed mean majority rule.

Sometimes I have even been downright indignant about the result, as in 2000, when I felt that the real winner of the contest was denied the right to take office by a Supreme Court 5-4 intervention that was unprecedented, unwarranted and, I think, ultimately unwise.

But I never threatened to secede from the union. It took me nearly a year to accept the leadership of the presidential annointee of 2000, and only when our nation was challenged in a direct and unimaginable way on Sept. 11 did I rally, emotionally, behind our politically appointed president. But rally I did. So did many of my fellow doubting Thomases who questioned the ascendancy of George W. Bush. For better or for worse, he was the only president we had, and I had to learn to accept that fact. Whether he achieved office as a result of electile dysfunction or mendacious manipulation of the electoral process was no longer the issue. There was reason to unite, and go forward. Just as there is today.

At least today there is no doubt about the result of the election, no doubt about the result. It is clear who won, with a solid majority, albeit not a landslide. Most elections are never decided by landslide votes; they are more often a 50-plus to 49-minus situation. The difference in this last election involved more than 3.5 million popular votes, and 126 electoral votes. In the end, it wasn’t even close. No need for a recount. No hanging chads, No butterfly ballots. No court manipulation of the results. There was a clear winner.

In terms of coming to grips with the enormities of the challenges we as a nation face, the longer we kick the can down the road, the more perilous becomes our predicament. Failing to address and solve the issues — of entitlement reform, tax reform, climate change, energy independence and educational backsliding — will have far-reaching consequences for the hegemony of our great nation. We will either continue to lead or slide into the status of a back-bencher wannabe country whose best times are past and whose future is unsecured. That is the choice we face.

Much of the energy of the opposition party for the past four years has been focused on denying the legitimacy of the re-elected leader we have. The strategy was to hope he would fail and to trip up his efforts to succeed at every turn, even if it resulted in tripping up the country itself, temporarily. Help was on the way (they thought). Well, it didn’t happen, and we now have the same president for the next four years, and it’s time for the opposition to suck it up and deal, and live to fight another day. We all need to take a deep breath and not waste time on silly things like threatening to secede.

There are even some citizens on the other side of the spectrum who would be happy to see the red states of the former confederacy and cow country just go away. They are just as wrong as their secession-threatening brethren. In the end, we are still “E Pluribus unum,” one from many. Let’s just remember that. Our partisan thorns will surely resurface four years hence, but for now, in the immortal words of Rodney King: “Can’t we all just get along?”

Monday, November 19, 2012

Blinded by partisan hubris

     The highlight of election night for me was when Karl Rove, an on-air host for Fox TV, publicly challenged the decision of the Fox News analysts that President Barack Obama had won Ohio, and thus the election.
     Not so quick! Rove even got one of his co-anchors to lead the charge against the Fox News decision desk. They were, in effect, demanding a recount.
If nothing else, this points out the dangers of trying to serve two masters. Rove was posing as a pundit, but acting as a partisan — and a  partisan who was totally, especially financially, invested in a Republican victory.
     His two super PAC s — American Crossroads, and the dark super PAC Crossroads GPS, the one where we never get to find out where the money came from — spent upward of $300 million on organizing and on buying ads, mostly for naught.
Perhaps that is why Karl could not see the forest for the trees. He was blinded by the light of his own partisan hubris.
     He was shell-shocked to see the reality of losing that was staring him in the face. The reality that he, Karl Rove, boy genius and Bush's brain, was wrong. Not just wrong, but profoundly and completely wrong in his assessment of the state of the campaign, and the election.
The indelible image of the Wicked Witch of the West comes to mind: "I'm melting! I'm melting!"
Or perhaps an even better analogy would be that of the Great Wizard of Oz trying to crank away behind his velvet curtain, saying, "The great and powerful Oz has spoken!" while all the while Toto was nipping at his heels, and pulling back the curtain for all to see the Great Wizard in his diminished glory.
     Face the facts, Karl. Obama now owns the presidential megaphone for the next four years. If he plays his cards and utilizes his bully pulpit right, he could be every bit as much a transformational figure in American politics as was Ronald Reagan.
     Tuesday night, on national TV, the time had come for Rove to face his moment of truth —the truth of his failure and its enormous consequences. Yet he just couldn't do it, and his reluctance to accept the reality of the moment apparently helped to delay Mitt Romney's concession speech.
Ultimately, sanity prevailed. Romney conceded, and eloquently so. The need to heal the nation and move forward trumped Rove's clinging to his charts and his convictions, while reality was knocking ever more loudly at his front door.
     America has indeed arrived at Karl Rove's Crossroads. The American people have chosen a road diverging in the woods. That, at last, has made all the difference.
Time to move past your own crossroads, Karl, and get on with the business of fixing the future of the body politic in this great country.
Forward! Not backward, and not sideways. Forward.
     As Lee Iacocca so famously put it, "Time to lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way."
Move over, Karl. The train has left the station, and you are no longer on board.