Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bitter Times for a Liberal

I am feeling so angry and bitter about my country lately. I can’t believe how much the conservatives are dominating the national political conversation just a little over a year after being thrown out of power.

Why is it that the people in this country are so conservative? I have heard it said that in many European countries the members of the conservative party are akin to Democrats in this country—even more liberal in some cases—so you can only imagine how liberal their liberal parties are. What is wrong with this country?

I’m reading an article about Attorney General Eric Holder in the latest New Yorker and the firestorm of criticism about the decision to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the “9/11 mastermind,” in a U.S. civilian court. The author, Jane Mayer, documents the glaring hypocrisy of many critics and the fact that the Bush administration had used domestic criminal courts for some of the terrorists arrested under their watch. In fact, Mayer makes a strong case that the record under Bush demonstrates that the civilian courts do a better job in getting strong convictions and prison sentences than the military tribunals do.

But more than that, Mayer also clearly discusses the fact that we are talking about some of the most basic principles that this country was founded upon: habeas corpus, the right to know the evidence being used against you, etc. The critics say that if you weren’t arrested in the U.S. you don’t have the right to be tried in a civilian court—that’s why Bush and company set up Guantanamo in the first place; they thought if they held these prisoners outside the U.S. they could do anything they wanted to them. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled repeatedly that that wasn’t the case.

But the most dismaying part of the article was the poll statistics about Obama—people give him generally good marks for all foreign policy issues including terrorism, except for this one area. The American people are dead set against having an open civilian trial for Mohammed.

Meanwhile the bankers, who have been treated like kings by the Obama administration (I’m reading Freefall by Joseph Stiglitz, the book documents this point in detail), are now complaining that the administration’s plans for new regulations and taxes is an unfair punishment of the financial industry, and are attempting to scare the Democrats into submission by giving money to the Republican party.

The Democrats, as much as I hated them before 2009, have given me plenty of new reasons to be disgusted. They are incapable of doing anything. There is only one good reason for their inaction—they are so bought and sold by corporations and the financial industry that they can’t follow through on the promises they make to the long-suffering liberals of this country…who else are we going to vote for, Ralph Nader?

There are so many critical issues facing this country. And we can’t accomplish anything. Frank Rich ( I think) said in a column a week or two ago that no major legislative achievement has come out of Washington for thirty years. That’s quite a statement. The only thing I can think of under Bush was tax cuts and the Medicare drug bill, which just added onto an existing program (without figuring out how to pay for it I might add). What happened under Clinton except welfare reform, which was basically just getting rid of a program?

Everything that has a beginning has an end. Every nation that was ever dominant was brought down by one cause or another. Paul Kennedy’s classic The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers is a very instructive history of the hubris and decadence that precedes a great power’s fall. America’s reign will inevitably come to an end one day, but I think our country’s fall is being hastened along by the incredible short-sightedness of the people in power and the appalling ignorance of the average citizen.

No comments:

Post a Comment