24 Sep The HuffPo Sampler: USPS and Public Education under Attack, Syria Analysis, Muslim Rage and Democratic Values, the 2012 Election
After basically eschewing the HuffingtonPost “Comments” section for over a month (that time-sucking rabbit hole of bumptiousness and braggadocio), I’ve recently allowed myself to dive back into that moshy pit, engaging in discussions ranging in tone from mutually admiring to openly combative (I confess that, when provoked, my HP self can be a bit of an acerbic dick — but I never stop trying to inform people, even those with whom I’m engaged in feces-hurling contests. Okay, I’m probably saying more in this introduction than I’d originally intended. Moving on…).
Here, arranged by subject, are excerpts from some of my HP comments from the past week or so (their 250-word limit forces me to be more concise than I might otherwise be — for which we can all be grateful).
The United States Postal Service (USPS) and Public Education under Attack:
The GOP Congress passed a law a few years back designed to sabotage the Postal Service (and create opportunities for FedEx and UPS). That unprecedented law requires the USPS to fill a 75-year retirement fund in just one decade. Without that absurdly onerous law, the USPS would be $1.5 billion in the black. That, my friend, is why the USPS (which we both like) is foundering. It’s not a question of outmoded management style; it’s purely a question of sabotage designed to privatize a government service — what else is new?
Study after study has shown that charter schools perform at the same level or WORSE than public schools, only requiring more money to do so… all while exploiting their ability to refuse to enroll students who present more challenges (special needs, English language learners, etc.).
So-called “accountability” is about imposing untried methods and newfangled “reforms” (on an institution that’s been chronically and systematically starved of resources) in order to dismantle one of the last bastions of organized labor in America. If it were about the quality of the students’ educations, the B.S.-reformers would be raising the clarion call to go with PROVEN SOLUTIONS: small class size, decent facilities and resources, adequately compensated and highly trained professional educators. Instead they want to fire a few million trained teachers and replace them with a bunch of hapless temps.
We’re living in P.T. Barnum’s America: ALL of our institutions are badly corrupted and broken, including both political parties, which work exclusively for the .1%. …the willy-nilly privatizers and deregulators who want to do for public education what they’ve done for banking.
Syria Analysis — the Neocons and al Qaeda, Together Again:
Prior to the civil war that American neocons manufactured in Syria (beginning with the Free Syrian Army’s al Qaeda affiliate bombing cities, killing scores of civilians and injuring hundreds more), there hadn’t been significant ethnosectarian strife in Syria since the 1980s. Syria’s 40% minorities (Christians, Druze, Alawites, and Kurds) were basically safe. Compared to their occupied and devastated neighbors (Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine) Syrians were thriving.
THEN we flooded the country with Salafis, RPGs, machine guns, and heavy arms, encouraging a wave of Sunni extremist violence in order to provoke an overreaction from the regime (which fights terrorism the same way Washington does, with its torturing, slaughtering head up its patootie).
The neocons appear to have created the Syrian National Council just as they created the Iraqi National Congress (headed by that London charlatan, Ahmad Chalabi, who fed George W. Bush all the “Curveball” intell he wanted so America could turn Iraq into a bloody hellscape). Now, they’re doing likewise for Syria, with war crimes piling up on all sides — and al Qaeda in ascendance across the region, all thanks to our obsession with isolating Iran.
Clearly, you’re happy vilifying the little brute and can’t be bothered with acknowledging the millions of victims of the BIG brute — the brute behind the current violence, no less. Your morality is subject to official dictates. Sounds safe… not principled, mind you, but safe.
But where are your concerns for the boiled-alive victims of our Uzbek ally, Islam Karimov? For Saudi women? For the doctors, journalists, and human rights activists jailed and beaten by our Bahraini ally?
Face it: you go where the neocon pipers pipe, my friend. You probably wouldn’t be giving Syrians a second thought if it weren’t Assad’s turn for regime change. (I bet you also thought Saddam was a “brutal tyrant” right on cue — but had nothing to say when he was slaughtering Kurds with the WMDs Reagan supplied.)
However, in the event you are willing to explore reality, here are just a few of my sources:
Muslim Rage and Democratic Values:
Many Americans today demonize Muslims (ALL Muslims, no less) for their “lack of democratic values” (baloney) — yet we don’t lift a finger to restore habeas corpus, the Constitution, and the legal foundations of Western Civilization (all interred after 9/11). The NSA vacuums up our phone calls and e-mails, the government persecutes honest whistleblowers and journalists like never before (calling WikiLeaks “terrorism”) — and across the nation government officials wage war on collective bargaining rights — AND MOST AMERICANS ARE SILENT.
You’re right about one thing: We did sic Saddam on the Iranians within months of the student-led revolution that deposed our torturing puppet, the Shah. Had we not used this mad dog (Saddam) as our proxy, getting him to launch a war of pure, bloody aggression, over a million people would be alive today — and it’s doubtful that Iran’s leadership would’ve been so radicalized in the first place.
It’s time to take responsibility for our past crimes — way past time to stop pretending as if there’s any morality or justice in our foreign policy. It’s time to stop pointing the finger at other countries; there are plenty of war criminals and massively corrupt individuals RIGHT HERE AT HOME. Middle Easterners will do a far better job of determining their nations’ fates than the butchering neocons ever could, anyway. Time to bring the troops home and send the mercenaries packing.
The 2012 Election — Observations and Hopes:
Even the GOP’s standard bearer, Mr. Romney, has repeatedly drawn from the Othering Pool, winking at the Birthers with his little joke and making a staple of his campaign rhetoric a bunch of nonsense about how Obama “just doesn’t get America.” The GOP’s WHOLE ATTACK on Obama has been based on othering the first African-American president and making him seem very scary to the people who ate up Ms. Palin’s bilious demagoguery in 2008: he’s a “European socialist” (anything but); he’s afflicted with “deeply rooted Kenyan, anti-colonialist” beliefs (coulda’ fooled me); he “hates white people…”
In short, my thesis on the Obama presidency is that the president has delivered massively on an agenda that — just a few years ago — would’ve been considered radically right-wing and politically unfeasible. I basically agree with Glen Ford’s assessment of the president, that he is “the more effective evil,” accomplishing more of the right’s agenda than a Republican ever could. I agree with Cornel West that Obama is a corporations-first technocrat who plays a liberal on TV. And I agree with Glenn Greenwald, that Obama has delivered an imperial presidency that would make Nixon blush (he’s also criminalized whistleblowing and adversarial journalism, while turning municipal police departments into a militarized, federally-coordinated army that quashes peaceful dissent).
I confess I’m more ambivalent than you are, when it comes to the outcome of the upcoming presidential election (though I’d love to see November deliver an overwhelmingly progressive Congress — a repudiation of the right’s embrace of radical, bigoted politics).
My reasoning, regarding the race for the Oval Office: It will be much harder for Romney — a president I never hope to see — to take a hatchet to the social safety net than it will for President Obama, who has strongly indicated (since before his inauguration) that he intends to slash Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (having repeatedly touted the far-right conclusions of the divided Simpson-Bowles-movement).
JOB ONE: Work to unite the OWS-left and Tea Party-right behind the common goal of cleaning up our banana republic-worthy campaign finance system (I like Lawrence Lessig’s ideas about creating a public finance system that would nullify the corrupting influence of the oligarchs). BOTH of these camps understand that our institutions are broken and corporations have run away with our democracy (and $16 TRILLION of our money, per the GAO audit of the Fed). I also believe these constituencies can unite behind restoring the Constitution, ending the neocons’ wars, and investing in our crumbling infrastructure (greening it and again making America a world leader in technology).
But first we have to overcome the many ways we’ve been deluded and divided by the pols and media…