18 August 2012

The Ramifications of Romney's Choice of Paul Ryan

Get Ready for the Slaughter

by FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY. Counterpunch, 12-14 August 2012
Gaeta, Italy.
Romney’s choice of the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Congressman Paul Ryan, as his running mate mirrors John McCain’s disastrous choice of Sarah Palin four years ago, although Ryan is probably a more able politician.  Being smarter than Palin, Ryan’s plutocracy-enriching budget proposals suggest he is also a more hypocritical politician, although such a distinction in Versailles on the Potomac during the summer of 2012 may be a case of splitting hairs.
It is a well known fact that like his predecessor candidate for President, John McCain, Romney will never be trusted by hard-right populists energizing the looney base of the Republican Party.  So, like McCain, Romney has picked a superficially attractive hard-right nutcase as a running mate in a forlorn attempt to energize his party’s crazy base.  Once again the mainstream media is going gah gah over the brilliance of the choice.  If you doubt this, google the choice of Palin and compare that gushing to today’s gushing.  In so doing, Romney, like McCain, is setting himself up for a slaughter by Mr. Obama, whose historical role is rapidly becoming one of being the Great Enabler of the oligarchy that is taking over the United States.
Obama, if nothing else, has proven himself to be a brilliant exploiter of his opponent’s political weaknesses.  Barring some unforeseen exogenous disaster, like a terrorist attack or another Wall Street collapse, Mr. Obama’s looming slaughter of Romney is almost a certainty.
I am not saying that Obama deserves to be elected, only that he will be elected. Why do I say this?  Consider please the following:
In a moral sense, Romney is far slimier than McCain: McCain, for all his political warts, did distinguish himself under torture as a POW.  On the other hand, Romney, unlike those who avoided Vietnam for moral reasons, is just another creepy Chickenhawk draft dodger who professed warlike support for Vietnam, while using his religion (rather than graduate school or marriage with children) to the avoid the pain and inconvenience of that war.  Whereas McCain spent his entire life in what he can legitimately view as patriotic (if sometimes misguided, IMO) national public service, Romney can only view himself as a patriot in the shallowest, most opportunistic sense of the term.  It is a well established fact that Romney is really a member of the unpatriotic global plutocratic elite who worked assiduously to enrich himself at America’s expense by doing his bit to destroy the American job machine while protecting his ill begotten gains in offshore tax havens.  Therefore, at the moral level of political conflict, Romney is far more vulnerable than McCain, and as I explained in November of 2008 in The M&M Strategy: How Obama Won, Mr. Obama waged a brilliant political campaign to maneuver Mr. McCain into destroying himself at the moral level of political combat.  Obama has proven he intuitively understands the moral game.  Yet, by pandering to his base, and repeating McCain’s  strategic mistake, Romney has pitted his own weakness against Obama’s demonstrated strength.  The last thing we need is a warmongering President who does not understand Sun Tzu.
If Romney is such bad news, would an Obama landslide 2012 be good news for America? Consider please the following:
As I suggested in the The Enablers, my review of Mike Logren’s important new book, The Party’s Over, Mr. Obama is just another enabler of the plutocratic power that is destroying America.  An Obama landslide will work also to shore up the ongoing entrenchment of that power.  At the same time, an Obama landslide will fuel the mistrust, alienation, and racist anger of the Right, and therefore work to increase its control of the Republican base during Obama’s second term.  This dynamic will very likely set  the stage for a repeat performance by some other Democratic enabler in 2016.
On the other hand, my guess is, unlike his first landslide, another Obama landslide will not generate much in the way of coattails in Congress.  Mr. Obama and the Democrats in control of Congress between 2008 and 2010 had squandered their first set of coattails by 2010, and the same crowd is not likely to get a second chance.  So, we can expect  yet more gridlock and more of the same, and while enabler Democrats get an increasing lock on the Presidency and the crazies strengthen the control of the Republican base, the bloated plutocrats can laugh all the way to the bank.
Despite this rosy scenario for enriching plutocratic power in the coming years, history tells us that sooner or later, the insatiable greed of any oligarchy overreaches itself and becomes intolerable to impoverished masses who think they have or should have a voice in selecting their political leaders.  When that tipping point is reached, the political system becomes ripe for revolution.  In our case, I think a more likely result will be an American version of a fascist revolution on the right than a social justice revolution on the left.  The vanguard of a neo-fascist revolution will be the impoverished, radicalized, middle class, minority white men who need jobs, but feel their opportunities have been screwed by the alien “others” in our increasingly diverse population.  This is an outlook that can be easily exploited by ruthless politicians to shift the focus of their anger onto other victims of the very same plutocrats who created the intolerable conditions in the first place.
Of course, the vanguard of an American neo-fascist revolution, like the brownshirts of the 1920s and 1930s, will be snookered into working for the further entrenchment of the oligarchy, perhaps eventually opening the door for an election victory (via another stolen election like that of 2000?) of a right wing fanatic instead of an enabler.  Whoever he or she might be, the fanatic, like the Enabler, will be beholden to the oligarchy; but unlike the Enabler, the fanatic will be far more predisposed to go all the way toward establishing an overt police state, giving the thuggish domestic policing jobs (in the military, police forces, and private security firms guarding our gated communities, etc) initially to members of the angry mob .  If such a scenario unfolds, it is a virtual certainty that it will be accompanied by an even more militaristic foreign policy, because war (and the patriotism and money flows it engenders) is the surest way to distract the attention of the increasingly impoverished masses from the reality of their growing disenfranchisement.
It seems to me that some kind of neo-fascist evolution will be far more likely at this point than a revolt led by the fops of the enervated left, who are more at home in the brie and chablis salons of the Upper West Side, Versailles on the Potomac, and in the gated communities springing up across America than in the diners of Akron or Steelton or in the poor black/hispanic urban and rural ghettoes spreading across our land.
Is such an evolution our pathway into the future?
No one can say.  But, it seems to me that Romney’s idiotic choice, coupled with the dynamics of Democratic enabling are setting up an interplay of chance and necessity that makes this kind of evolution more and more possible, if not probable.
Ironically, as I write about this dismal prospect early on a Sunday morning, I am lying at anchor (my home is now a small sailboat) in Gaeta, Italy, next to the USS Mount Whitney, flagship of the Navy’s 6th Fleet (she is home ported here) listening to the Star Spangled Banner accompanying the morning flag-raising reveille.  The music and ceremony still sends a chill up my spine and I am reminded of my days in uniform which I am still very proud of.

10 August 2012

The Enablers

The Central Role of Faux Republicans in the Anatomy of Decline

by FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY, Counterpunch, Weekend Edition August 10-12, 2012 

Gaeta, Italia.
Readers beware;  what follows is a biased book review.  The author Mike Lofgren (bio) is a very close friend of mine, and, as some of you may may already know, I have been flogging his  important new book,  The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. Mike is a conservative of the now forgotten old school, more at home with the likes of Robert Taft, Eisenhower, and Lincoln than right wing ideologues like Newt Gingrich or plutocratic highway robbers like Mitt Romney.
Casual readers of Lofgren’s aptly titled book may well conclude that he is harder on Republicans than Democrats.  In a technical sense this is true.  Having served on the Republican staffs of the House and Senate Budget Committees, he was in a much better position to observe and understand their hijinks than those of the Democrats.  So, it is not at all surprising that his book has more detail describing how the ideological Republican crazies created the current political-economic mess that is poisoning our culture and wrecking our economy.  But it would be a great mistake to conclude that Mike is arguing that the Republicans are THE culprits.  This book is about how the Republicans and Democrats worked together to sell out the middle class.
The author is a modest, unassuming individual, who at first glance would appear unlikely to write such a book.  He never sought the kleig lights.  He never hung out with the gucci shoe crowd to pave his way into high paying lobbying job on K Street.  Lunch for Lofgren was not at the Prime Rib or Capital Hill Club, but a simple sandwich in a brown bag.  This modesty of life style and demeanor hides a principled intellectual, who has the character to go where his reasoning and observation take him.  And a pen in Lofgren’s deft hands, combined with his deep understanding of political history and acid sense of humor, becomes a sharp, deeply penetrating harpoon aimed at the heart of his subject.  In addition to harpooning the bloated degenerate Republican whale, Mike harpoons the Democrats by demonstrating subtly, yet persuasively, how their growing “uselessness” arose out of an enervating sense of entitlement to power.
That sense of entitlement mutated Democrats into what we in the Pentagon would call THE ENABLERS of Republicans.  The Democratic enablers unwittingly played a crucial role in the demolition of the American dream, not unlike that played by infiltration troops in blitzkrieg.  Infiltration troops soften up the front by wiggling through defenses to create holes and weak areas for the tanks to roar thru and reap chaos and destruction in the enemy’s rear area.  Only in this case, the rear area being ruined is the American middle class and the role of tanks is taken up by the flow money supplied by the oligarchs who feather their nests by buying Democrats as well as Republicans in one seamless auction.
Put bluntly, to protect their sense hereditary entitlement to the power bequeathed by the coattails of FDR and the New Deal, the Democrats abandoned their progressive heritage and moved to Wall Street, Big Pharma, Defense, etc.,  insensibly becoming faux Republicans.  If you doubt this, look at the enervating, quasi-neoliberal ramblings of the self-inflating Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) or the cynical triangulations and warmongerings of Messrs. Clinton and Obama.  Their abdication of progressive principles gave Republican crazies more room to get even crazier, and together the faux Republicans and the real crazy Republicans reinforced each other to create a rightward shift in the American political dynamic that unleashed the evolution of a new gilded age, together with the re-emergence of a plutocracy that Russian oligarchs would envy.  And this happened in a remarkably short time of 30 to 40 years.
In so doing, the Democrats sold out their constituency and colluded in the historic swindle that brought the great American middle class to the brink of impoverishment and debt peonage.
If you think collusion is too strong a term, I would urge you to think about Bill Clinton’s (the DLC’s choice for president in the 1992 election) collusion with Republicans in the nullification of the Depression era Glass-Steagle Act in 1999, which was one of the main deregulatory initiatives that unleashed the excesses that led to the 2007-8 financial meltdown.  Clinton, by the way, did not pick up his grips and retire to a modest house in Independence Missouri like Harry Truman; he chose instead to join the plutocratic elite, where he is now well on his way to becoming a card-carrying member of the one-tenth of one-percent club of the mega rich.    The bottom line: the Democrats’ sense of entitlement and the consequent corruption of their progressive principles have been a necessary, if not sufficient, cause of the current political-economic mess that is destroying what is left of the middle class in our good ole USA.  It would be a great mistake to allow the hilariously disgusting Republican hijinks in Logren’s masterpiece brand it as an anti-Republican polemic and miss his main message.
Mike, of course, states clearly that his subject is how the madness of the Republicans and the uselessness of the Democrats reinforced each other over the last 30 to 40 years to hose the American People.  It is the degenerate nature of this symbiotic relationship that is his and should be the Left’s call to arms.
I do not count on this happening.  I expect the faux Republicans will try to exploit the embarrassment of riches in Mike’s book for a narrow short-term political advantage, in yet another demonstration of the hypocrisy that is a consequence of their losing mentality.
In closing, I ask readers to think about the fact that this laudatory review of The Party Is Over  appeared in Pat Buchanan’s American Conservative magazine, not some Democratic rag trying to get leverage in the coming Presidential election.  That should be taken by the Left as an example to emulate.   The real question in my mind is whether progressive counterparts to the American Conservative will use Mike’s call to arms to summon the curiosity and the courage to explore the ramifications of Lofgren’s subtler analysis of the “enablers” of decline.