Friday, October 08, 2010

American Taliban

One administration wrecked the economy by cutting taxes, spending trillions on unnecessary wars and letting big business run wild. So the next administration – of whichever party – was going to have to try something different. Standard economic theory indicated that government-led stimulus would preserve, if not gain, jobs . And, lo, the Recovery Act worked, the recession ended, Wall Street and the auto companies paid back most if not all of their “bailouts” and unemployment , while too high, is lower than its peak.

The stock market is over 11,000 and big companies are flush with cash reserves. Labor is cheap. Borrowing is cheap. At the same time, the country’s fundamental infrastructure so critical to the economy – roads, bridges, schools, transportation – is crumbling and needs to be fixed. Yet Corporate America – the free market engine that is supposed to cure all ills -- sits on its hands while the economy appears to be stuck in neutral.

Why is this?

Corporations are refusing to spend their cash. Instead of hiring work-needy Americans, they are hiring Chinese, Brazilians and Hondurans. The mainstream news media, what is left of it, is actually to the right, and denounces the Obama administration at every turn. A recent issue of the supposedly liberal Washington Post carried seven articles in its news sections – not a special editorial section -- criticizing the administration. And of course the Far Right radio and television clowns distort reality so much that the mere ludicrous becomes conventional wisdom.

And what is the basis of this assault on what the Far Right dismisses as “the reality community?” I believe it is a racist, nativist, ignorant strain of the American culture that hates Barack Obama, fears “outsiders” of all colors and intellectual colorations, and is terrified of progress. Its leaders are proud that they hate government (Alaska, Connecticut etc.), dabble in witchcraft (Delaware), deny evolution (everywhere), don’t believe in the regulation of food or in civil rights (Kentucky), ask followers to pick up the gun (Nevada) and have a record of criminal healthcare fraud (Florida).

What would you call a county where leading politicians call for armed action against the elected government, where they determine which religions can build which houses of worship at which locations, where textbooks are changed to deny scientific fact; where elections are determined by restrictions on voting, gerrymandering of election districts and by partisan courts?

You might call it Afghanistan.

And we will find out on Nov. 2 whether Congress will become the American franchise of the Taliban.

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