Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Auguries

A portentous weekend calls for a Sunday night dispatch.  The news is very bad, and the signs for the coming week even worse.  Beware. 

The Louisiana election cycle, which was completed on Saturday with the disposition of various runoff contests, spoke convincingly of the power of money.  It starkly displayed the determination of the rich corporatist right to use the naked power of their wealth to destroy the democratic process itself, and with it a fundamentally critical element of a free and open society, public education.  Yet, around the country and the world, the picture is even uglier. 

A form of police state force was turned on innocent, legal, and peaceful protests.  There were graphic videos of the gratuitous abuse of helpless citizens by police laying on needless suffering, even to the point of pepper spraying and endangering the life of an 84 year old woman. 

And speaking of protests, the petition drive to recall the rabidly anti-union Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, kicked off.  This may seem to be a welcome sign, but it is more telling to remember that this comes in reaction to a uniquely vile and unprecedented assault on the democratic rights of public employees in that state.  The fact that Walker and the Republican controlled legislature attacked these rights so viciously in the first place underscores the dangers of the times occasioned by the rise of the extreme political right.

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, the new front runner contender to Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination, came out today against laws which prohibit child labor.  He labeled such prohibitions on child labor "stupid."  He then went on to call for the firing of school janitors so that poor children could be paid some pittance to perform that work.  This, Newt said, would encourage them to take pride in their schools, give them some cash, and allow them to "start to rise."  This is the kind of villain currently rising to the top of one of the major political parties in this country.

But the Democrats, mind you, are all together not much better.  That party's members on the so-called Super Committee, which has been empaneled to essentially give political cover to the Congress as a whole when it cuts Social Security and cripples Medicare, were all over the talking head shows today proclaiming their willingness to inflict such needless and inexcusable pain on the elderly, if only the Republicans would give them the pretense of a fair deal by agreeing to at least slightly raise taxes on the very wealthy.  At some point, we the people are going to have to resolve to fight off the attacks levied against us by both the Republicans and the Democrats.

Finally, the impending Eurozone financial catastrophe is showing signs only of worsening.  The European Central Bank and Germany are pushing all the wrong policies as hard as they can.  And that is very hard, indeed.  Unfortunately, it appears that the leader's heads are as hard as the stupid policies.  It looks very bad from here.

Make no mistake, the Eurozone crisis is not a problem for Europe alone.  We do not live (at least financially and economically) "over the edge of the world and far beyond the perilous seas," to borrow a phrase from an ancient king of the Britons.  It is foolish to think this disaster is not as much ours as theirs.

I know that this is a hell of a way to start the roll out of a new week, but the real hell is yet to come.  Be forewarned.

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