Sep 2012 26

by Steven Whitney

Nation-building is a perilous task, mostly because the people you are allegedly “saving” from oppressive regimes often don’t share the same world view or want the things we think they should want.

For decades, hard line American foreign policy experts found it expedient to install or keep in office leaders whose greatest (and sometimes only) asset was their pro-American stance, aided by billions of American foreign aid dollars. They didn’t care if we were propping up a royal personage (Hassan II / Morocco), an upwardly mobile warlord (Barre / Somalia), a cruel dictator (Pinochet / Chile), or even an outright mass murderer (Pol Pot / Cambodia). It was a classic devil’s deal: as long as these puppet dictators let the USA pull their strings, we supported them, usually disregarding the popular (and underground) leaders who might have been elected by a democratic process. It was and is an anachronistically paternalistic policy – America as Father Knows Best – and it is thankfully dipping below the horizon of our history.

In the meantime, the excesses of these tyrants eventually turned their countries against them, most recently in Libya, Syria, and Egypt. And we supported the rebellions. But if America is going to promote – or at least not get in the way of – democracy abroad, it must realize that it is often not going to like the results. These new democracies are not created to please us, but rather to free their own people and let them choose their own leaders – that’s what democracy is about.

Like life itself, politics is a messy business, especially when you do the right thing and it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted or expected. In this new century of global integration, we have to stop acting like spoiled children accustomed to always getting our way and learn that self-determination means just that.

There’s a price to be paid for freedom…and often it is spread around unpredictably.

* * *

Republicans and Fox News howled when they discovered that “God” was not mentioned in the 2012 Democratic Platform. A veritable hue and cry followed. Democrats hastily put together a Yay or Nay convention floor vote with no audible winner. While the word “potential” was eventually changed to “God-given,” the DNC might have seized the opportunity to point out that the Constitution of the United States, the document office-holders are sworn to uphold, also does not contain the word “God.”

Look up the Constitution on the web. Then click Find for the word “God.” It won’t come up…because it isn’t there.

Our founders were extremely clear about the separation of church and state. Anyone who thinks otherwise should spend the rest of their days searching for God in our Constitution.

* * *

In most cases, children first discover the world at large in their local library…and adults find almost anything they need to learn or want to enjoy. Except for actual schools, libraries contribute more than any other institution to our growth as human beings and to the society we live in. They are the social hub of information sharing and, unlike most elected officials, libraries serve their entire communities, so when even one is in danger of closing, it’s imperative that the community push back.

Faced with just such a threat the good citizens of Troy, Michigan pushed back against the Tea Party / Grover Norquist tax fanatics. Watch this short video to see how the smartest use of reverse psychology I’ve ever witnessed saved their library.

These voters are not only informed, but amazingly creative. Bravo!

* * *

Writers generally love words. Lately, one phrase keeps intruding on my thoughts – “to the manor born.” It holds visions of British aristocracy, Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs. But now American has its own version.

Doesn’t Mitt Romney (and to a lesser extent, Paul Ryan) perfectly embody the concept of “to the manor born?”

* * *

Time magazine recently reported that more than one hundred bird species, including chickens, engage in some sort of homosexual behavior, much of it “casual sex.” And a study at Virginia Tech in 1964 discovered that cockerels placed in cages only with same sex chickens started getting it on pretty quickly. Of course, the bible on the topic is Bruce Bagemidhi’s Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, which confirmed Darwin’s finding that diverse sexual behavior – homosexuality, bisexuality, and more – naturally occurs in almost all animal species, including humans and chickens.

As a result, anonymous sources have revealed that in an all-out effort to prevent gay chickens from hitting their grills, CEO Dan Cathy has commissioned famed Minnesota sex orientation adjuster Marcus Bachmann to visit every one of Chick-fil-A’s facilities to “pray the gay away” from their otherwise magnificently heterosexual chickens.

Fowl behavior, indeed.

* * *

Our Worse Than a Do Nothing Congress recently set a new and shameless low in governing standards. On September 21st, members of Congress recessed for the all-important business of getting re-elected in November. It was the earliest exit from D.C. in over 50 years.

Congress reconvened from its summer vacation on September 10th – and worked nine full days before calling it quits – obviously spent by their oppressive workload. They might not have come back at all but, as always, Republicans had some important bills to block.

First up was the Veterans Jobs Bill, which would have created jobs for 20,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It actually passed 58 to 40, but Senate Republicans killed it by lodging an objection that then required a 60 vote passage.

House Republicans also stalled the Farm Bill because its $23 billion cut in farm subsidies over ten years was not nearly enough. And, too, the GOP wants to replace subsidies with a new privately run “crop insurance” program with projected costs of over $1 trillion that creates myriad irrational incentives for small farmers (while, of course, favoring huge agribusiness concerns).

Attached to the farm bill was a provision passed by the Senate cutting food stamps expenditures by one-half of one per cent. House Republicans want to quadruple the cut, so the bill was effectively tabled. Food stamps help feed 46 million Americans, many of them working families, part of the 47% of Americans Romney/Ryan accuse of feeling “entitled to food,” and if the GOP has its way, “those people” will be dining only at Midnight Missions throughout the country

Due to so much unfinished business, Congress will reconvene after the November election. Since some – and hopefully many – Republicans will be lame ducks by then, perhaps a few will veer from the hard party line and actually use their votes to help everyday Americans.

* * *

The biggest mistake President Obama made during what is hopefully his first of two terms was during his State of the Union address before Congress in January, 2009. Back then he should have declared that in the almost 3 months since the election he had been briefed on every aspect of our government and that everything was much worse than we – and he – had been told.

I’m sure he wanted to use that forum to regenerate his message of hope, but his lack of candor supplied the GOP with their rallying cry today: “He didn’t fix our mess fast enough!”

The Bush/Cheney administration left our country in disastrous ruin on almost every front and it would take more than even the full team of Avengers to repair the damage, especially when Congress does nothing but obstruct proposed bills that would help us regain our fiscal health.

Instead, Obama’s first SOTU address fostered what by then was unrealistic hope and, when truly miraculous change didn’t happen, the President was blamed by every screaming Republican.

The truth is that Bush/Cheney dug us into such a deep hole, it might take a full decade or more to recover, even longer if the GOP maintains its obstructionist posture or, heaven forbid, gains power and returns to the policies drove us off the cliff in the first place.

On Election Day, all you really have to do is remember who led us into the quicksand of failed policies from 2001 to 2008. And then vote.

Related Posts:
From Death And Despair. . . Dreams Can Soar
Modest Solutions To Voter Suppression
Character. . . And The RNC
The Do-Damage Congress: Who’s Responsible?
Worse Than A Do Nothing Congress
Forget The Barbeque On Labor Day – It’s Time To Take Care Of Business
Chicken Shits: The Slippery Slopes of Chick-fil-A
The Vagina Solution
Fighting Back Part 4: The Big Liar, Intimidation And Revenge
Fighting Back Part 3: Fighting Fire With Fire
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.


  1. […] Posts: Political Ramblings And Random Thoughts From Death And Despair. . . Dreams Can Soar Modest Solutions To Voter Suppression Character. . . […]