Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Farewell until September

For the past few weeks, I’ve been busy with remodeling projects in and around my house, and those will be ongoing through the summer. That’s one reason I’ve decided to take a sabbatical from this blog for the next three months.

The other is this: There just doesn’t seem to me to be much to discuss right now on the political front. With Donald Trump’s ridiculous little attention-getting stunt over and done with, and Newt in trouble with conservatives for telling the truth, the focus for Republicans for the next few weeks will be on trying to identify a feasible candidate to run against Barack Obama in 2012. With Tea Party extremists ready to “primary” any candidate who fails their “litmus test” for fanaticism, that’s likely to be a painful process for the Party of No. For my part, I’ll leave them to go at it.

In a recent interview, Bill Moyers remarked that among subjects considered inappropriate for discussion in polite company in America is the fact that this country has become an oligarchy—a land in which a minority of the very rich and powerful make many of the decisions for the vast majority of us. With the help of fundamentalist churches, Fox News, and Citizens United, the Republican Party has become their party—of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

For anyone who has closely observed the behavior of Republican governors and legislatures since the last election—from union busting in Wisconsin to takeover of local governments in Michigan to mandatory drug testing of state employees in Florida—it must be obvious what greater consolidation of power in the hands of the GOP would mean at the Federal level. We got a taste of it under George Bush—to the continuing detriment of the U.S. and world economies, among other things. But now—with a Republican Party confident enough in its own power to talk openly about demolishing every social support program in America, from minimum wage to Medicare, I can no longer tolerate the tendency of even well-informed and well-meaning political observers to treat the two parties as equivalent.

The two parties are not equivalent.

One wants to consolidate the power of and influence of the already richest and most powerful—an elite group that includes oil barons, bank presidents, Wall Street CEOs, and owners of insurance companies (like Governor Rick Scott, whose company will be paid handsomely for all those unnecessary drug tests in Florida).

The other, the Democratic Party, works for the well-being and prosperity of everyone—for values like equal and universal education, the right to bargain collectively, freedom to vote, and—yes—access to quality health care for everyone.

Between these two world views, operating from very different value systems, there is little room for compromise (as even the president must know by now) and no moral equivalency at all.

So call me partisan—as I most assuredly am. But I no longer have any patience with batting around Democratic values and Republican lies as though the two are the same. Clearly there is no longer any sense in trying to pretend that the differences between, for example, a John Boehner and a Nancy Pelosi are just a difference of opinion about how things should be done. The differences are between what is right—morally right—and who matters.

Over the next three months, I will decide how to move forward in terms of my new, deeper understanding of the real political dynamics at work in America.

Have a great summer everyone!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When Death is a Beginning

It’s not often that we in America experience something unique in our long history. The death of Osama bin Laden is such an event.

Mass murderers and tyrants have died before, lifting the burdens of terror and unresolved grief from the shoulders of the people they oppressed. But never before has a single individual been so focused on the destruction of Americans for just being Americans. Never before has anyone committed such atrocities on America’s soil, ships, and outposts. Never before has evil been so personal for us.

Osama bin Laden robbed America of more than our security. In the past ten years, we’ve suffered immeasurable losses, indignities, and moral failures as a result of our government’s clumsy and incompetent response to his actions. We’ve engaged in two horrific wars, lost privacy, and tolerated torture in our name.

Bin Laden is dead, but we Americans have much work to do if we are to reclaim the integrity we lost as a nation after the events of 9-11. Now if we can just get beyond the pettiness of partisan politics and the habit of focusing our national attention on the antics of on nasty, infantile personalities (The Donald comes to mind), perhaps we can make the most of this new day dawning.