Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Post-Election Meanderings

Thank you, readers, for your many emails and financial contributions over the past few days. I will respond to each one as I catch up.

John McCain's gracious concession speech spoke very eloquently to the profound symbolic and historical importance of this election's results. Concession speeches naturally tend to boilerplate calls for unity, but McCain took this opportunity to frame Obama's win in far larger contexts than the usual Republican-Democratic party partisanship. The nation would be well-served by re-reading his speech at regular intervals in the coming years.

Football analogies are certainly cliched, but perhaps the best way to describe McCain's pick of Sarah Palin is the football phrase "going deep." Rather like a gutsy, go-for-broke quarterback, McCain threw a long, risky pass in choosing unknown Sarah Palin--"going deep"--which if caught results in a touchdown and perhaps the game-winning points.

As a family member who has worked long years in Congress for a Republican representative told me in July, "our biggest problem is the 'R' after the congressman's name"--that is, the incumbent party led by an unpopular president in a deteriorating economy is almost certain to lose elections. (The 1980 election is a good example.)

Facing poor odds, McCain went deep, and the Republican base was indeed energized to such a degree that I predicted a McCain-Palin win here a few months ago. But a wily free safety named "Financial Meltdown" leapt up at the last second and intercepted McCain's pass.

Perhaps Obama might have won if the fraying duct tape holding the Empire of Debt together had held for another three months, but his victory was sealed when the deep pass pick of Sarah Palin was negated by the collapse of the Debt-Economy-Shadow- Banking System. With the nation's phony prosperity revealed as threadbare rags, all the Democrats had to do was not fumble the ball in the final seconds.

Elections are important, even profound theater, but we should remember that government is more an army than a leader. Just as Bush's presidency was defined by his appointments of neocons, incompetents, sychophants and Wall Street insiders to positions of power, so too will Obama's presidency be defined by his choices for the numerous positions of day-to-day responsibility in the Pentagon, Treasury Department, FEMA, and so on. My greatest hope for the Obama presidency is the appointment of sober competence in key positions of power in the Federal government.

No one can repair the U.S. economy, but a competent team can put in place policies and management which can lessen the structural damage and suffering, just as an incompetent team can wreak even greater damage.

From the point of view of deep-power structures, the party affiliation of an appointee is basically theater for the masses. Our concern should be on the competence of the people Obama selects, not their superficial partisan labels. The great weakness of the Bush years was gross incompetence in every department and at every level, compounded by the firing or dismissal of competent voices (General Eric Shinseki et al.) in favor of zealous lackeys and sychophants.

The incompetence cost many fine Americans their lives, and cost the nation trillions of wasted dollars. Look no further than the money-pit Orwellian-named "Department of Homeland Security" and "we don't do quagmires" Donald Rumsfield as just two examples of hundreds.

And let's also not forget who influences both parties: the 40,000-strong legions of lobbyists, tax attorneys and all the other well-paid servants of the Elite who actually own most of the U.S.'s productive assets. Just as a reminder:

While the mainstream punditry is palavering on about middle-class tax cuts, let's focus our attention on the fact that any tax cut to anyone is a forced loan extracted from the earnings of future generations.

The notion of raising taxes on those who make $250,000 or more distracts us from the more compelling need to look at whether those earning $25 million or more are paying any tax at all, and if not, why not? Yes, I mean the type of citizen who buys a $20 million vacation home (his third such getaway) in a Kona Coast enclave and who arrives in Hawaii on a private jet, the sort of citizen who doesn't worry about regulations because he has attorneys and the sort who presses his political pals for "favors" and subsidies as needed.

We need to look beyond the theater and ask: cui bono? Who benefits? Beneath the legislation and the noise and the mostly-mindless propaganda machine of theatrical partisanship, are we being impoverished in ways we can barely discern?

Thank you, Daniel R. ($15) for your very gracious and much-appreciated donation to this site. I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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