Monthly Archives: May 2011

Palin / Nixon

Anyone familiar with the history of Richard Nixon will know that Washington press corps types simply never thought the man had a chance in hell of being president. And the resentment of a lifetime of treatment like that gave Nixon the drive to overcome these elites. And his intelligence helped him figure out how to make that work politically.

So, I sure hope that anyone trying to beat Palin at anything won’t do the scoffing she’s-so-uncool thing. That’s how people like her connect with voters.

The way to beat Sarah is to get her to show herself as the mean girl from junior high that she really is.

PressTards

The press’s attempts to “analyze” a “potential” Sarah Palin candidacy should be Exhibit A in why our media hurts America. (I love how one of the complaints is that the press is bored with her.)

Sarah Palin ended her celebrity fad stage with her retarded comments after the Giffords shooting. But, if anyone thinks that she gives a shit, you haven’t been paying attention. She told donors before the 2008 election to “hold [their] powder ” for 2012. In other words, just because people are more or less over her doesn’t mean she won’t run for president. All of the babe-in-the-woods surprise over the “rumors” now is just sad.

 

Endorsing Sarah Palin for The GOP Nomination in 2012

You could very well greet the title of this post with laughter. A left-leaning blog endorsing Sarah Palin! On its face that’s funny due to its irony. It’s also apparently a tongue-in-cheek statement of self interest in that we want the GOP to lose so badly we want their worst candidate. All of these were intended, but there is a serious point here too.

FIrst, I don’t believe that Sarah Palin is the GOP’s worst candidate from the point of view of electability. She is marginally less electable than Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, but, if we’re being honest, would probably score more votes than Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Michelle Bachmann. That’s how bad this field is. Palin not only has a decent chance of winning the GOP primary, but she would probably get more votes than many of the other candidates in the field. At the end of the day, she might actually be their best candidate. She has name recognition and celebrity. Better yet, she has believers.

Second, and this is the real point: she’s the only honest candidate. Not that she is honest, but that she is the only candidate that accurately and truly reflects the values of today’s Republican party.

Herman Cain is black. The GOP has spent the last three years dogwhistling against blacks. Newt Gingrich appears to be willing to say something contradictory to the dissonant religious hybrid of Ayn Rand and Evangelical Christianity. Ron Paul’s crew—he has believers too—obviously spooks the industrialist wing of the party, not to mention the military-industrial wing of the party. Michelle Bachmann is obviously just a clone of Sarah, plus Bachmann is a lawyer. That’s two college degrees too many to really represent the GOP.

Palin, again, is neither honest nor authentic. But she is an honest representation of the ever-changing tribal Republican views. Republican views are neither libertarian nor industrialist, neither Christian nor Constitutionalist. They are whatever ad hoc mishmash of rhetoric is needed to accomplish their goals, which are not ideological at all. When Sarah speaks, she isn’t advancing some academic agenda; she is saying “fuck you” to her enemies. She is always punching hippies.

Palin is also an authentic representation of what the party has become. Her white trash family life—teenage pregnancy, wolf killing, talking-in-tongue quasi-cultish Evangelical, NASCAResque existence—with all of its People magazine appeal is a more accurate reflection of her base than any of the others as well. (Newt was a college history professor ffs.)

If you had to hang a label on these folks, I like anti-technocrats. Any complex solution to a problem is a priori incorrect. Values are a priori correct, even if they fuck up the world in practice. (It isn’t that Obama’s solutions are too liberal, or that he is copping their more conservative solutions like individual mandate and so on—it’s that he wants to solve things at all.)

If GOP voters have any honor, they must nominate Sarah Palin for President in 2012 and let the day of reckoning come and let the American people have a true referendum on the two parties: an ideologically weak technocratic party of at least partial solutions, or the anti-technocratic party of the post-industrial wasteland.

Hopefully though, America will be able to say in November 2012 what Sarah Palin said when Obama won the nomination over Hillary Clinton: “So, Sambo beat the bitch.”

Tort Reform

One of the least evil ideas Republicans have is probably tort reform. As this Economist article points out, medmal lawsuits are hardly the bogeyman they’re made out to be in any quantifiable terms, so really they just do this to say “fuck you,” not to solve any real problem. Still, it could be worse. If we have a single payer system one day for health care, med mal will have to work differently.

The trouble is how crude “tort reform” works as currently envisioned. Just like in education, where we will always leave many children behind as long as the underlying questions of poverty are not addressed, until the underlying dynamics of what drives our country’s tort system are addressed, it will just screw people.

Tort reform—at least with respect to med mal—could work. I know this because other countries do not have our tort system and they get better medical outcomes. The trouble is, those countries use before the fact regulation to keep things in check. We rely on after the fact adjustment of problems—what I think of as “minefield justice.” You can get away with an awful lot, but if you get caught up in a lawsuit, you step on a mine and you blow up, even if what you did isn’t this bad.

This is exactly how this played out in labor law, where the decline of unions as a forum and vehicle for addressing employee grievances has been replaced with the courts to a large degree. The result is messy, expensive, and almost random as to whom it affects.

Other countries do a much better job at reducing this kind of “transaction cost” by trying to get things to run more smoothly in the first place, not leaving people without any hope outside of the courts, and, in some cases, by publicly funding plaintiffs’ cases when they arise and are deemed worthy (by something like a “death panel”).

I seriously doubt this country would ever tolerate the regulatory interference necessary to make this work well, the social safety nets necessary to keep people out of courts for money when they have no other redress, and .. finally…

I think if law school were free or cheap, lawyers wouldn’t have to spend most of their lives chasing fees. (Which is a reason why tort reform is not really all that loved by the corporate firms—defending cases is how they get paid too.)

Of course, all of this involves a desire to solve problems, when really the Republicans just want to leave people high and dry, so they won’t do anything to compliment the caps they put in place, like, say, by providing some kind of insurance for people hurt in medical incidents, even when no one is at fault—and not just for medical care. A kind of public option AFLAC maybe.

Anyway, we don’t care about transaction costs in this country. The only people who make money are making them by taxing transactions in the real economy anyway—the government, the investment banks, lawyers, tax professionals, etc.

Also it might help if medical schools were free. We don’t have enough doctors and it might be nice if there were some that could afford to work in free clinics.

All of this would reduce the cost of health care. Something else the GOP really doesn’t give a shit about in deed even if they do in word.

GOP 2012

I still think Palin is in. I think she got talked into laying low after her gaffe during the Giffords thing. But let’s be real, here. She’s so out of style that she’s almost in style again. With Trump, Newt, Huck, Daniels, and Romney all more or less disqualifying themselves either with saying they’re out or saying things that will get them voted out, the only choice left for GOP 2012 is Goldwater or Dole. In other words, do they nominate the next guy in line, establishment suit man, or the ideological rabid psycho. In other words, Romney or Palin.

sometimes i write neat things:

Slate is a formulaic enterprise that basically just seems to repeat the same trope: take a Republican idea, justify it in a pseudo-liberal way, and tell liberals who disagree they are stupid, unserious, or dirty hippies. In other words, they are perfect Democrats.

(Keeping in mind the distinction between liberal and Democrat.)

The Obama Psychotic Split

It’s very heartwarming to see that the almost debilitating psychosis sweeping across the land due to the fact that we have a perceived-as* black president isn’t confined to white America. Apparently, it affects black professors who have made a career out of the status quo ante.

And while there is a credible argument to be made that I am actually blacker than Obama, the descendant of the lilyest of mothers and an African who never spent one day as a slave in America, nor any of whose ancestors did, I think we can take that genetic/cultural argument and place it to the side for a minute, because just about all of the Sons of the Confederacy are pretty damn sure he’s blaaAaack.

But West’s complaint (apparently that Obama hangs around with too many *fnord* JEWS *fnord*) is just the same old “house nigger” complaint.

Well, my ebony home boys, our fierce ladies of feminism are ahead of you on this one. third or fourth or some goddamn wave feminism decided it was ok for women to be housewives if they weren’t, like, totally forced into it. So, I’d say, let Urkle be Urkle as long as no one is cracking his suspenders. Know what I’m sayin’?

* To borrow the language of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Shock

In December, Nobody Could Have Predicted that after this three ring circus clown show the “serious” Republican will come to save us from these extremists. And then we’ll have to hear how America is a center-right country and that’s why we should vote for whatever shitbag the Republicans put up against Obama, the communist.

Newt is smarter than the press.

I guess that could be a backhanded compliment, since I hold the starfucking Washington press corps in a level of contempt reserved for an enemy fifth column. But I mean it seriously.

Here’s how little strategery it takes to outwit them:

(1) Make a clever dogwhistle reference to blacks. Not overt. Must be dogwhistle.

(2) Wait for incisive question from media turd who wants to know if comment in #1 was racist based on liberal freaking out.

(3) Deny. How could my statement possibly be seen as racist?

(4) profit! You’ve now not only scored points for calling Obama a NIGGER without using the term, but you’ve scored points for with all of those racist whites who get their fee fees hurt every time someone calls them out on their bullshit about blacks.

They are either complicit or stupid. Or both.

American Psychos

The Guardian:

Cabinet ministers have agreed a far-reaching, legally binding “green deal” that will commit the UK to two decades of drastic cuts in carbon emissions. The package will require sweeping changes to domestic life, transport and business and will place Britain at the forefront of the global battle against climate change.

The deal was hammered out after tense arguments between ministers who had disagreed over whether the ambitious plans to switch to more green energy were affordable. The row had pitted the energy secretary,Chris Huhne, who strongly backed the plans, against the chancellor, George Osborne, and the business secretary, Vince Cable, who were concerned about the cost and potential impact on the economy.

However, after the intervention of David Cameron, Huhne is now expected to tell parliament that agreement has been struck to back the plans in full up to 2027. He will tell MPs that the government will accept the recommendations of the independent committee on climate change for a new carbon budget. The deal puts the UK ahead of any other state in terms of the legal commitments it is making in the battle to curb greenhouse gases.

Sometimes liberals in the United States lament the Tories in the UK and the Conservatives in Canada. And while I would have been a LibDem until last year had I lived in the UK, and a Liberal/NDP swing voter in Canada, I think comparing those parties to the American Republican party is ridiculous. Our homemade American psychos are so far to the right of anything that any other major country has as a major party. If liberals want to score rhetorical points while showing off their savvy of international politics, they would do better to point that out than lament some pan-Anglo-American conservative movement.

The rump of the modern-day American Democratic Party is roughly the equivalent of the Tories, even if their international affinity is for Republicans. If you were an average English Tory, your policy preferences would be those of a Bill Clinton/Barack Obama Democrat. Only the right-fringe of the Toy party would even consider voting for someone in England that had the same policy platform as even the most liberal Republican senator.

For starters, even though there has been an austerity program in the UK, there was opposition to it that wasn’t merely suggesting smaller cuts, but opposition suggesting none.

 

Is the tea party over?

I think I agree with The Prospect here mostly, but their answer as to why leaves its own questions: why are Beck and Palin on the wane?

I think it’s because like other fads these dies it just ends. Is anyone still fascinated with Charlie Sheen today? Does anyone even remember that a Congresswoman was shot in Arizona? No. I don’t think so.

The question I can’t put my finger on is why given this obvious tendency among the American public the GOP chose to do this before the midterm elections and blow their wad on Congress, which is important but not nearly as important as the White House.

My best guess is that the things they oppose are largely institutions that give existence to industries that support them (translated into GOP speak: “freedoms” that, once lost, we can’t get back) like health insurance, and that once the fight is over, it’s over. You can’t wait.

Fuck War?

Atrios:

I’m not sure exactly when I started seeing myself as a pacifist. It’s one of those words which to Very Serious People means “you like it when the bully punches you in the face don’t you dirty fucking hippie!” But what I’ve learned over the increasingly many years of my life is that the existence of just about any war in which the US is involved means that the Very Serious People, with all the power they have, fucked up completely. Even if that war is, in some sense, “necessary,” it still means that the people who run this place screwed up and at the very least should resign in shame before sending people off to kill and be killed. But they don’t. They go on Meet the Press to talk about how awesome they are.

In our culture, “pacifist” is basically code for “dirty fucking hippie” or “liberal” or “you hurt my feewings during Vietnam,” but its Pavlovian trigger is any kind of opposition to any military or police activity anywhere. People may take the assholes on television and the politicians seriously when they throw these names around in reaction to things America does, but it’s no different than the junior high school yard.

I think I agree with this basic sentiment though, and it’s a better rendition of what I really think than I could have written myself. I don’t think war is good. I don’t think killing people is cool, even when done with a smart bomb. I don’t want to fight in a war, I don’t want to kill people and I don’t want to be killed. I might reconsider in the case of my home state being attacked (and by attacked I don’t mean by terrorists, I mean in some kind of real war), but for that to happen, several hundred Very Serious People would have been fucking up majorly for a long time.

Just because I think military action is sometimes necessary, and that, in theory I don’t oppose all war so I can’t be called a “pacifist,” on a practical level, I can be pretty sure that if the US (or any country with a nuclear deterrent) is involved, it’s not going on on our home turf, it’s at least partly political, it will last literally 100-1000 times longer than anyone thought at the outset, it won’t “count” for purposes of budget discussions even if schools do, literally 100-1000 times more civilians will be killed than anyone thought at the outset, it will result in all kinds of markets fluctuating over bullshit speculation over its effects on the supply or demand of some thing that will not really be affected by the war, Republicans will demand that we kill more people and use more troops and spend more money, Democrats will ignore people in their own party who want to wind it down, and the closest that 99.95% of people will get to the killing zone is on their PlayStation and, finally, that no one will think of any of these things at the beginning and mentioning any of them will trigger the aforementioned Pavlovian response.

We have completely lost clarity on the use of our military (which is bad even if it means less wars). Most of this is because some people got their feelings hurt during the Vietnam war.

 

 

Musings on a dumbass local paper

I live in a strange place. There are almost no minorities. There are old land baron families yet there are thousands of newcomers like me. There are enclaves of the most extreme shitkicking redneckery on the one hand and dreadlock-pubed hippies on the other. But it’s not a very populated area, either so other than people who want jobs here just for the sake of living here, we’re a tad short on talent.

In our mediocrity exemplifying local newspaper today, one of the columnists wrote amusedly about how people by a 97% margin assigned blame of his death in an accident to the accident victim. WIthout citing any evidence to the contrary, evidence of serious mistakes by doctors and others was dismissed.

It occurred to me that one of the worst tricks conservatives have been able to pull on us is enforcing the notion that morality is a zero-sum game; that there is one person and one person alone for everything that goes wrong. It’s how they first convinced us that only the saintly could be wronged with consequences and now that people who are wronged are, ipso facto, not saintly. All those fraudulent bankers? Not their fault; a bunch of scum were taking home loans they couldn’t afford. Now if you complain about anything, no matter who you are, you’re smeared.

The Flight of the Legalists

So, because what the political media does these days is put out pulp advancing their ideology in the backdrop of whatever the current news is, it’s no surprise that the Ultra-Legalists have decided to question the legality of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Trying to fit this situation into the framework of laws written by very fallible people to deal with different situations implies that laws, once created, enjoy some kind of transcendent status; they don’t. Another argument I’ve read more times than I care to is that if the Nuremberg trials were good enough for the Nazis, they are good enough for Bin Laden. How much do you want me to write on that being wrong?

Glenn Greenwald starts out by telling us how right he was that people would be too exuberant to care (first fallacy: everyone is stupid) but that it’s not that popular everywhere (second fallacy: appeal to mass opinion). Next, he complains that the accounts released by the government have changed. I would be concerned if the accounts change in a few months. We’re sorry that everyone’s story of a helicopter raid isn’t letter perfect in real time. Sheesh.

Greenwald then complains that Democrats are being hypocritical. This is the single most tired argument in politics. If you have an interest, and another party has an opposing interest, any time they actually compromise with you, they are being hypocritical. This is more or less a way of shitting on people you oppose for doing what you want. It’s pathetic.

You see Dems used to say the way to deal with terrorism was law enforcement, now they act like it’s a military thing. If I’m not mistaken, this administration has used law enforcement to deal with terrorism quite a bit.

Greenwald goes on to suggest that what has been created here is a “Bin Laden exception.”

My principal objection to it — aside from the fact that I think those principles shouldn’t be violated because they’re inherently right (which is what makes them principles) — is that there’s no principled way to confine it to bin Laden. If this makes sense for bin Laden, why not for other top accused Al Qaeda leaders?

There’s no way to confine anything to anyone on that basis. There’s no way to make sure everyone gets due process either. There’s no way to make sure every law applies to every person at all.

Greenwald and legalists like him think that laws are transcendent (they are inherently right he says) and so they can never be violated. People of this persuasion think that a society of laws is based on unbending principle. I don’t dispute that that would be the case if humans were capable of crafting or perceiving Perfect Laws. We aren’t.

Because we aren’t, a society of laws must be based on experience and wisdom, on empirical evidence and tests. We have learned that due process is the bedrock of a society of laws, but we have continued to define what due process means in different situations over the years. In some cases, like the death penalty, it means two trials, a guilt phase and a penalty phase. In the case of unemployment benefits, it means an informal hearing in an office.

We continue to figure out what process is due through experience and tough experience. And in that experience, we have to engage in line drawing.

What people who say things like “there is no principled way to confine it to bin Laden” are just either so blinded by their need for perfect principles or are being disingenuous.

Law is built on line drawing. Some people are in, some are out. Some acts of homicide are murder; some aren’t. Some are subject to legal penalty (murder, manslaughter), some aren’t (self defense, death penalty executions).

To me, it’s the rigid application of principles to situations which they clearly don’t apply just because they are “inherently right” that creates more problems. It is the careful drawing of lines that makes us free, not the other way around.

Seriously?

I was never really one to have anything but contempt for the people who said that people who opposed President Bush were unpatriotic. Honestly, it’s just not a constructive thing to say, even when true.

But as we know, Rush Limbaugh declared in 2009 that he wanted Obama to fail. Since then, the right wing has waged war on the President. They obstructed his agenda (while criticizing the Dems for not being bipartisan). They wanted to stop the PPACA because it would have been Obama doing something positive, not because they didn’t like the bill. After all, the PPACA is essentially the warmed-over Bob Dole proposal from the 90s. Now it’s suddenly incipient Marxism.

They could at least hide behind their constant opposition to health care reform and in favor of big business.

But the right wing has sunk to a new low over the last 24 hours. This is the party that called anyone who didn’t want to carpet bomb Afghanistan a traitor and who wanted to question every Muslim in the US, and who’s big joke about Obama was that his name sounded like Osama.

Now they can’t stand it that Obama gets to announce OBL’s capture. So, they start blaming him for taking credit. They say that it was President Bush’s work that got him. They lied and said the information came from torture at Gitmo, even though Obama didn’t shut down Guantanamo and defied a campaign promise in doing so and drew pretty extreme heat from his base for it. Yet they blame him for something he didn’t even do. They are upset that OBL’s (may his name be blotted out of existence) body was disposed of by burial at sea. I guess shooting him in the head wasn’t good enough.

They can’t just be glad that he’s dead? Well, they’ll tell you, they are but they are disappointed that Obama is bringing politics into it. Of course, he didn’t bring politics into it, they did, but whatever. This is the party that ran an ad superimposing OBL’s face over a triple-amputee veteran in the 2002 Georgia senatorial election. This is the party that said the Democrats want the terrorists to win; and now they want politics out of it.

We should be outraged, but this is nothing new.

If Richard Hofstadter were to write The Paranoid Style in American Politics today, he would have to add a section on the exposure of some of their more cherished ideas as bullshit. They always want a do over. Take Nixon. The Pentagon Papers fiasco was mostly embarrassing to the Johnson administration, but he was worried about his bomb-the-hell-out-of-them approach to Vietnam being exposed. Really, Vietnam was the keystone issue of that era. Anything that vindicated the peace movement was anathema to the reaction and it’s leader, Nixon.

Nixon administration folks bore the grudge of Vietnam and the grudge of Watergate into the 2010s. They simply cannot let evidence get in the way of these convictions. People believe all sorts of lies about the Vietnam era now, like the liberals stabbed the military in the back and wouldn’t let them win (no troop increase was ever denied and we bombed the hell out of the whole country), that veterans were spit on when they returned (apparently made up, but veterans were leaders of the anti-war movement!) and so on. This grudge was held against John Kerry in the 2004 election—old resentments from Vietnam became an issue that we heard more about than present concerns like the environment or manufacturing jobs in that election.

Nixon staffers like former Chief Justice Rehnquist and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were so bitter about Watergate that they constructed a whole new theory of Presidential power which they implemented not to defend America from OBL, but to win the gubernatorial election in Alabama, replace US Attorneys and launch a fiasco of a war in Iraq.

And so yet another decade has come and with it yet another (at least one) gigantic demonstration of the failure of Republican thinking in the Iraq war.

The current crop of GOPers’ entire worldview came to being in the post-9/11 era where all of their idiotic schemes were temporarily vindicated by popular sentiment until they were exposed for the bullshit they were. There were no WMDs in Iraq. There were no connections between OBL and Iraq. And yet, President Bush launched this stupid war in the middle of our hunt for OBL, a war that ended up, like Vietnam, being hugely unpopular as it was winding down. They trotted out all of the same lies about Iraq—that it was liberal lies that we couldn’t win, that all it would take is more troops, that people were spitting on veterans, and that the opposition is unpatriotic. But none of this mattered.

Unlike Vietnam which spread from a natural instance of our Cold War policy of containment, the Iraq war was sold to an angry American public as the way to fight OBL. We weren’t just sold a war; we were sold the war as the means to our vengeance. Once people believed that we weren’t interrupting our manhunt for OBL, it made more sense to go to Iraq.

If Obama went to war with a random country tomorrow, and the premise for his war turned out to be a lie, he would pay for it electorally. But if he told us he needed to fight that war to defeat OBL, and then the next President finally got around to doing it, he would get scarred in history. But people should have known; Bush even said he didn’t think much about OBL in 2002.

Yes, we wanted to be safe. But we also wanted to get OBL. If you didn’t think that, then all of the spontaneous celebrations ten years later should show you that.

And either implicitly or explicitly, Republicans know this. They know that Iraq is a huge fiasco for their brand. This is why we have the “Tea Party” using a different name claiming to be about the Constitution and budgets, when really they’re just the same old Republicans. But they resent it. They can’t have been wrong. The mass opinion was changed simply by liberal media lies. I don’t have one conservative friend that has totally let go of Iraq. They refuse to admit they were wrong about it.

You can bet that for the rest of our lives, the GOP will occupy itself with rewriting the history of the Iraq war the same way they did with Vietnam.

That coupled with their reptilian hatred for Barack Obama simply will not let them compute the fact that what liberals like me have been saying all along—that we should never have abandoned the hunt for Bin Laden, that not all liberals are pacifists, that we weren’t against Iraq because we were pacifists but because we were fucking smarter—was right and that it could have been done if we tried hard enough and that their entire bullshit sideshow in Iraq was pointless and based on bullshit lies they were stupid enough to believe.

That would entail admitting that Bush was a moron and Obama is at least a decent president.

But they can’t do that. Because that is what it really comes down to for them. They don’t want America to succeed if it can’t succeed on their terms, even if their terms fail to work and in fact only wreak havoc on this country every time they are implemented.

Democrats have their bad points. They are weak. Their tendency for pragmatism makes them seem soulless. And they are by no means truly a left wing party. They are, basically, the corporate parry that doesn’t hate gays (as much).

But Democrats’ weaknesses are mostly manifestations of the same essential traits that make up their strengths in other ways. They are not as committed to their ideology, so they are more focused on what works, including what works for getting things through Congress. When you’re dealing with nut cutting opponents who don’t budge, that can produce terrible results and it has for American workers for too long. But, they don’t care about enacting some metaphysical plan if it doesn’t do anything. They may get convinced by lobbyists and Slate magazine that something that is really just a right-wing scheme like charter schools, school vouchers, “Partial Birth” abortion bans, free trade, trickle-down economics, the need to “fix” Social Security that will work, but you don’t convince them by telling them it’s a beautiful implementation of something form the Bible or from Atlas Shrugged, yet that is exactly how you sell it to a Republican. The GOP is only interested in pragmatics in the electoral process.

So, as strange as it might sound, the killing of OBL by a command structure set up by Obama actually gives me more confidence that the PPACA will work well enough, that the Stimulus bill was big enough, and so on. Maybe he and his people have the goods to deliver on these pragmatic things.

But, again, the GOP doesn’t want these things to work unless it’s on their terms. They would rather see America fail so that they can advance their agenda. And if that’s not unpatriotic, I don’t know what is.

The Fear Years — One Last Time

Would the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden shortly after 9/11 have made it impossible for the Bush administration to concoct a rationale for invading Iraq?

All answers to “what if” history questions are speculative nonsense; however, it is clear  even ten years later that bin Laden’s death has created a catharsis. It was evident in the impromptu celebrations in New York and DC, in the random dude waving an American flag on a bridge spanning the freeway in my current city, and, as a resident of New Jersey who was down wind from the World Trade Center on 9/11 and can still recall the faint rotten milk stench of the plume as the jet stream carried it over my home, in my own guts, heart and sinew.

I once strongly suspected that the Bush administration aggressively-passively allowed bin Laden to escape in Tora Bora because his capture would have ended 9/11; the open wound would be bandaged and there would be no more fear and angst to misdirect to Iraq. Now, I think it’s more likely that they did want to capture bin Laden, but they outsourced the job to flimsy tribal allies in a typical bout of near-hilarious incompetence.

As bad as the Bush Administration was at actually doing things, they were great at selling them. That day in August in which a Bush lackey explained that the Administration was ginning up a war with Iraq in September of 2002 because “you don’t market a new product in August” was the day that any worthy unity from 9/11 died and instead it became proof that IT can happen here. Your kind neighbors can have their fear and anger stoked, forged and fluxed into incoherent hateful nonsense. Today, more than ever, just what the hell was Iraq War II for? Bin Laden is dead in Pakistan, organic revolutions are lurching at least parts of the Muslim world towards more democratic governance, gas is $4 a gallon. Why Iraq in 2002? It makes no sense.

Who knows, maybe the triumphalism of killing bin Laden would have allowed the Bushites to roll into Iraq and into Syria or some other disaster at the same time. Maybe the disaster of the Bush Years was always fated somehow, like a Greek Tragedy. For the only time in my life, I am glad that someone is dead, but I’m dumbfounded and aghast at what bin Laden gave the opening for Bush to exploit all over again. Yes bin Laden’s dead and something great will be built at the World Trade Center site one day. But the wreckage of the Bush administration is all around us.

The Decade Everything Changed And No One Noticed

On September 12, 2001 can you imagine thinking that only ten years later, America’s first black president would finally orchestrate the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden three years into a depression?

Maybe it’s because there’s no official name for the 00s. It’s easy to say, “that’s so 90s” or “that’s so 80s.” But what to call the last decade? The failure of a handle may be what is holding us back from an honest retrospective on the monumental effects this decade will have on America.

In the late 90s, the peace dividend boosted the US economy, but it was coupled with a string of deregulation and free trade agreements. In spite of the latter, wages for the lowest earners grew in real terms for the first time since the 1970s. Most people felt their fortunes rise.

The 90s were a time of soap opera politics. The Monica Lewinsky scandal was the story of the decade and so controlled the media that not a few presumed Clinton’s attempt to kill Osama Bin Laden was done to get peoples’ minds off the scandal. Clinton himself ran for reelection on picayune things like the V-chip. The Republicans squandered some popularity on all of this, but people began to wonder why the government needed a surplus. Thus, the 2000 election was mostly about whether or not to enact massive tax cuts on a policy level, but it was not about policy much at all.

The tone for the entire decade was set by that election when the Supreme Court invented new law to stop a recount of votes in Florida and handed the election to George W. Bush, who had lost the popular vote. Power was what mattered, and the only thing that mattered in the 00s. Policy outcomes were secondary. If there was a good result, they took credit; if it failed, whatever.

Bush was struggling in his first term. No one told him that he hadn’t won a mandate to govern. He barely won his taxcut package and his approval ratings sank. Then 9/11. It became the excuse for everything.

First, the “Patriot Act.” Then alert levels. The government began to tell people how to act and fanned all kinds of hysteria. Before even being sworn in, the Bushies had set their sights on Iraq. They began to slowly roll out new hysteria about Iraq, in part to achieve their goal of getting Saddam, in part to continue to justify their programme, and in part to cover up their failure to catch Osama Bin Laden.

Taxes were never raised to pay for Bush’s guns and butter, not for Medicare Part D, not for No Child Left Behind, and not for his two wars.

But the real evil was the neglect that the Bushies made their M.O. in government. The incompetence first showed during Hurricane Katrina. What did people expect when people who don’t believe in government run the government? But this same kind of do nothing approach was allowing a giant bubble in financial products and real estate to blow up.

The middle class was enjoying this bubble. They could cycle their debt into the new equity in their house and maintain their accustomed lifestyle despite no increases in wages and anemic job growth that didn’t quite keep up with population growth and the decline of manufacturing due to “free trade.”

This same kind of neglect was apparent in the management of the wars, where it was more important to score political points by using soldiers Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch (both Democrats) to push the GOP agenda than it was to do anything good.

The Democrats weren’t quite ready to man up in 2004, but the close election showed people were getting closed to being tired of Bush. By 2006, America said no more. But they still got more. Bush doubled down on Iraq in the face of the election results.

And then the housing bubble collapsed.

8 years of people who don’t believe in government running government changed everything, but because there was no positive agenda no one noticed. This is the period when America went from being the country that put men on the moon to the country that lets its major cities be destroyed by natural disasters, that has infrastructure collapse like major bridges in Minneapolis, from the country that brought down a President for covering up a robbery of a political opponent he crushed anyway to a country that hasn’t put a single responsible person in jail for the fraud that caused the most massive economic downturn since the Great Depression.

We wanted to believe that electing Barack Obama would fix everything. We’re a country that has picked ourselves up out of trouble through a consistent formula of military victories, progressing the civil rights agenda, or technological advances, and sometimes through legislation.

And even if Obama had cleaned up Iraq and Afghanistan, caught Bin Laden (which he did), gotten single-payer healthcare, and balanced the budget, or completely tore down any barriers to gay and lesbians, it’s unlikely that would be enough this time to turn us around.

No positive legislative agenda can change the illusion in the minds of so many people that they can have it all for no sacrifice. That they shouldn’t have to take care of their neighbors. That government is always the problem, even the day after our government killed the biggest killer of Americans in the US in decades.

If you don’t think so, you only need look at the reaction on the right to the capture of Bin Laden. They give credit to Bush, that this happened despite Obama, that Bin Laden isn’t dead really, that this was politically timed, and so forth and so on. They’ve been programmed to think everything Obama does is wrong, even when it’s something they want.

Bombing Libya would have been the biggest cause for everyone to love dear leader if the President had been Republican, we all know that.

No, it’s becoming Hatfields and McCoys. Obama knows this and he thinks that if he tries hard enough, he will do something to heal this breach. I don’t know. I don’t think anything can reach these people.

What I do no is, in a decade with no name, an agenda with no positive legislation changed America into a rotting hulk of what it was and once the eggs are cracked it’s almost impossible to put it back together again.

Osama Bin Laden Confirmed Killed

Congratulations on your re-election, President Obama.

Update:

Fascist New Network has it “Usama” bin Laden instead of the normal “Osama”, probably trying to confuse people in the face the facts of proving that Obama is a real president and Generalissimo Bush was not.