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February 24, 2010

New Tomdispatch


Explain Something to Me
Fixing What's Wrong in Washington... in Afghanistan

By Tom Engelhardt

Explain something to me.

In recent months, unless you were insensate, you couldn’t help running across someone talking, writing, speaking, or pontificating about how busted government is in the United States. State governments are increasingly broke and getting broker. The federal government, while running up the red ink, is, as just about everyone declares, “paralyzed” and so incapable of acting intelligently on just about anything.

Only the other day, no less a personage than Vice President Biden assured the co-anchor of the CBS Early Show, “Washington, right now, is broken." Indiana Senator Evan Bayh used the very same word, broken, when he announced recently that he would not run for reelection and, in response to his decision, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz typically commented, “The system has been largely dysfunctional for nearly two decades, and everybody knows it.” Voters seem to agree. Two words, “polarization” and “gridlock” -- or hyperbolic cousins like “paralyzing hyperpartisanship” -- dominate the news when the media describes that dysfunctionalism. Foreign observers have been similarly struck, hence a spate of pieces like the one in the British magazine the Economist headlined, “America’s Democracy, A Study in Paralysis.”...

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars, the U.S. military is promoting “good governance” with all its might...

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at February 24, 2010 04:24 PM

To paraphrase Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili, "How many divisions has Noam Chomsky got?"
(Or insert the name of your own favorite critic of the Powers-That-Be)

Posted by: Murfyn at February 24, 2010 05:31 PM

Howard Kurtz must think the system was working from until 1992. Ha! Our governmental system has been broken since it was built. The amazing thing is that the Constitution is venerated because the First Amendment and some other parts of the Bill of Rights are good. The rest of the Constitution is just a really good design for gridlock and paralysis and a government that can't be changed no matter how screwed up everything gets, which was just the design favored by for those whose greatest fear was those "mobs" called "the people.".

Seriously, take a look at how "stable" our government structure is. Before the Civil War, we had slavery and all that acrimony and hate in the air and division between two halves of the country, and the damn system still held together decaded after decade for eighty years. After the Civil War during every single decade that has followed it is possible to easily demonstrate just how screwed up everything was, and more importantly how screwed up it was all perceived to be. Yet nothing of significance has ever changed! That's another 14 consecutive decades of a widely shared perception of corruption, unaccountability, gridlock, and general non-functionality. No wonder anti-government talk resonates with people! (Yet everyone still loves the Constitution!)

What Kurtz and his fellow-travelers and their employers and funders will eventually want is to justify the sort of crackdown (probably martial law necessitated by a cyber-attack or some damn thing like that) that will make possible the complete elimination or drastic reduction of entitlements, social security, medicare, the lot of all that non-discretionary spending, along with the reduction of wages and salaries in at least some sectors to competitive international levels. (It might not be so good for ATR either.) That sort of adjustment would be called a move toward 'equilibrium' by microeconomists, though it won't feel that way to those equilibrized. The sane alternative would be to put the squeeze on the military in a meaningful way, making them actually spend and do less and so retreat from their staggeringly ambitious international role, but that obviously just ain't going to happen. So something else has to give. Human beings without money are going to be asked to do the giving.

Plan B (or maybe plan A) will be to annihilate some big chunks of Asia. Not that our military crazies with the sacred responsibility to commit atrocities on our behalf want to do that, or will mean any harm if they have to do it. It just may end up necessary for strategic reasons, even if is risky and not so easy. Those strategic reasons are important. That's what life is all about, so sometimes you have to do the hard thing.

Fasten your seatbelts people. If you think driving a Toyota is exciting, you ain't seen nothing yet. The real adventures of the 21st century are just getting started!

Posted by: N E at February 25, 2010 11:09 AM