11.01.2005

As Bush Burns, So Does the Grass Wither


Yeah, yeah, yeah. Harriett and Scooter are history. Maybe Rove'll get pinched, too. BFD. You can see the so-called "progressive" pundies circling, using words like "meltdown" and "implode". Actually one of the better of these is Tom Engelhardt. But, as staunch an oppositionist as he is, he gets it right:
To me anyway, this looks like a potential critical-mass moment. Of course, there are a few missing elements of no small import. The most obvious is an opposition party. The Democrats are essentially nowhere to be seen. In fact, whether or not they even remain a party is, at this point, open to serious question. Their leading candidate for president, Hillary Clinton, still wants to send more (nonexistent) American troops into Iraq and, like most other Democrats in Congress, has remained painfully mum -- this passes for a strategy, however craven -- on almost everything that matters at the moment. Even on the issue of torture, it's a Republican Senator, John McCain, who is spearheading resistance to the administration.
To be clever (and trite), I say about the Democrats, "there's no there there."

To those who still cling to the fantasy of a "revived, reformed" Democratic Party, I say "rediculous." Where is your evidence? You say you're "reality-based", but I think you're as delusional and/or misinformed as the end-times evangelicals.

I mentioned here a short while ago that Democrats are not interested in change, only in power. There's as much difference between the two as there is between governing and ruling. If you wanna taste of what the "progressive left" is really doing, check out the New Progressive Coalition's website . . .
The New Progressive Coalition's (NPC) mission is to wire progressive politics by cross-connecting progressive political entrepreneurs, organizations and investors to fuel a political machine that harnesses the left's potential.

The 2004 elections underlined that the right-wing's profound influence over the national agenda and direction of our country did not happen overnight. The so-called "vast right-wing conspiracy" is a powerful $300 million network of conservative policy think tanks, grassroots organizations, advocacy groups and media entities that took decades to build.

For too long, progressives have failed to develop our own infrastructure and make these investments in our future. Despite the $2.2 billion spent in 2004, and a great wellspring of progressive energy and talent, progressive efforts were undermined by an inability to look beyond single-issue campaigns, the efficient architecture constructed by the conservative movement and the fact that when the polls close, so do our pocketbooks.

The problem isn't that we lack the will, resources or imagination to succeed. It's that we're not wiring our political capital—connecting our best minds and strategic investors willing to take risk—to truly ignite the full potential of our movement . . .
Slick, eh? Trouble is, the primary catalyst behind this joint is the Rappaport family. They were, and maybe still are, Kerry boosters. If Kerry is a progressive, then I'm a czarist. Remember that billionaire George Soros was gonna spend and spend the proliberals into power? So maybe we can't just throw money at the problem . . . but liberals don't seem to have any other tricks.

Sturm und Drang. There should be quite a spectacle in the Senate, a bit of rock 'n' roll, but no shock 'n' awe. Scalioto will be confirmed. The process will only be a theatrical distraction, pulling headlines and dKos and Atrios and Billmon away from addressing the fundamental issues. Like the continuing, systematic holocaust on the Gulf Coast; like the accelerating virus of "christian" extremism infecting more aspects of our society; like the shredding and unraveling of our ability to educate ourselves, shelter ourselves, keep ourselves healthy, keep each other safe.

The Black Commentator's Ford and Gamble catalogue the horrific events of post-Katrina black and poor Louisiana:

  • cutting wages for construction workers in the Gulf states by indefinitely suspending the Davis- Bacon Act, which guarantees workers are paid the region’s prevailing or average wage. Suspending wage protections for Gulf Coast workers allows all contractors, regardless of whether or not the work relates to cleanup and reconstruction, to pay as little as $5.15 hour.


  • Ignoring federal procurement practices, which has resulted in the award of several multi-million dollar no-bid contracts that hurt local small, minority, and women owned businesses.


  • Denying equal opportunity employment initiatives for workers in the Gulf states through an exemption from some existing Affirmative Action Program (AAP) requirements for new federal contractors dealing with Hurricane Katrina relief.


  • Exploiting the hurricane to create a private and religious school voucher program that could allow federal money to be used to promote employment discrimination.


  • Allowing a temporary waiver of environmental protections in the Gulf Coast region and supporting additional environmental suspensions at the expense of the health and safety of Katrina survivors, particularly the poor, disabled, and minority populations.


  • Rebuilding segregated and inaccessible housing.


  • Enforcing immigration laws during search and rescue.


The latter outrage demonstrates the Bush men’s pure, devilish cynicism and howling racism. While allowing reconstruction contractors to import low-wage, non-citizen workers from Latin America, Homeland Security’s immigration agents conduct raids that single out Latino-looking residents of emergency shelters.
Much has been said about the central role of racism in the Katrina aftermath. But, and it's a big but, I think we need to be very wary here of the long-term implications of focusing just on the racism. Don't get me wrong. I won't minimize it. It's there, big fuckin time. But doesn't the list above resonate with our "government"'s actions in Iraq and in other places they've heroically tried to "liberate"? I gotta tell yuh, I know that white-male-middle-class-over-fifty me is gonna suffer the same consequences if I run afoul of the corporatists.

Our government is not going to save us nor are we going to save it. We are not of it. It is not of us. However, we must not only survive, but we must try to prevail. How?

Thinking and acting again as and in communities of our own making is essential. Not in blog coalitions and group blogs; not in organizations that are primarily for the purpose of electing people to office; not in fractious single-issue organizations that only come alive every six months or so for some loud but ineffective march down the street. But real communities. Where not only values are shared, but also work and caring and caretaking and resources and protection.

Ford and Gamble's article calls for a "movement". How far down the scale must we tumble before we begin to really move with and for each other?