Saturday, March 2, 2013

Larger Consequences

Ted Frier raises the larger issues masked by the sequester flap, and the on-going stalemate between the Congress and the President. There is also a nod, in Frier's spot-on analysis, to the breath-taking remarks of a Supreme Court Justice this week, concerning the alleged sociological coercion at work upon even (gasp) Virginia's senators, who voted with the majority to reinstate yet again the Voting Rights Act, in 2006. Mr. Scalia cited an unnamed theorist ("it has been written about") for the view that when in comes to "racial entitlement," once "they" gets it "they wont's let its go." On these "grounds" he proposes to overturn a 98-0 Senate vote!

Here's Mr. Frier, drawing on Walter Lippmann:

Republican calls that President Obama show "leadership" in this crisis by "capitulating" to their political demands are the same cynical wordplay we've become accustomed to hearing from Republicans, to be sure. Like those who said we needed to destroy the village in order to save it, Republicans say the President needs to save the nation from the "devastating" consequences of $85 billion in budget cuts by cutting $85 billion from the budget.

But the darker side of these calls for executive action to overcome legislative gridlock is the one that Walter Lippmann understood so well decades ago. It's one the President referred to obliquely in his press conference yesterday when he reminded reporters asking why he did not just "do something" that presidents under our Constitution are neither kings nor "dictators" (Obama used that word) able to dispatch the Secret Service like a Praetorian Guard to prevent legislators from catching their planes, or forcing these duly-elected, if recalcitrant, democratic leaders from doing a thing if they have a mind not to.

It does not take a genius -- or unhinged conspiracy theorist - to imagine that one strategy a right wing authoritarian movement might embrace to concentrate political power in the hands of a few might be to: First, allow the wealthy to make unlimited, undocumented political contributions; Second, rule the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional as part of a package to disenfranchise the opposition; and finally, make democracy unworkable so that the public will choose "authority to freedom" just as Lippmann said, even against its will.

All the pieces are in place. It's a very disturbing situation we're in, and what is the alternative view? Possibly that the entire charade is just that--a way to mask responsibility for the destruction of our safety net in the cause of a "debt crisis" that is utterly a figment of imagination. For it is quite true that Mr. Obama also favors draconian reductions, and the argument now seems to turn on mere details, and whether sequestered cuts are or are not "blunt" enough, or too much. I experienced a weird small shift in perception last night, watching Ed Schultz and Ms Maddow. Mr. Obama became rather small and frail, his gestures weak, puny. One of the primary "stories," in show after show, was a concern with whether a mixed Star Wars/Star Trek metaphor was a blunder, or a stroke of subtlety.

A ghastly civil war once ended, it was thought forever, an understanding of the United States as a collection of small governments which had surrendered their sovereignty provisionally, and could take it back if they so decided. Blood decided that this way of looking at things was never again to be a true perspective. Yet, today, states rights are everywhere, and the government of the United States sits for the most part, silent.

And a Supreme Court Justice alleges that some deus ex machina is coercing the votes of Senators in the cause of "race privilege."

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