Sunday, December 03, 2017

America is Broken, Probably Beyond Repair

The sad fact that America's Congress is "bought and paid for" is well known. America has long lost any notion of "government of the people, by the people, for the people." It is instead government of the people by a few people acting for the benefit of a select, privileged and small segment of the people.

The corruption that is so rank within the House and Senate is something that the Republicans don't even bother to hide any more. The Republican tax reform law was a consummate act of political corruption. Even stalwart senator Lindsey Graham tweeted last month admitted that the "donor class" now gets what it has so richly paid for.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday became the latest Republican to admit the GOP is trying to ram through massive tax cuts for the rich to satisfy its wealthy donors, telling a journalist that if the party’s tax push fails, “the financial contributions will stop.”

Lindsey Graham says “the financial contributions will stop” if tax reform fails.

— Alan Rappeport (@arappeport) November 9, 2017

David Sirota, reporter with the International Business Times, responded by noting that it is both “laudably honest for Graham to admit this” and “a repulsive glimpse of how politicians see so many public policies as private financial transactions between them and their donors.”

In today's New York Times, Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein lament how the Republicans "broke Congress."

What is astounding, and still largely unappreciated, is the unexpected and rapid nature of the decline in American national politics, and how one-sided its cause. If in 2006 one could cast aspersions on both parties, over the past decade it has become clear that it is the Republican Party — as an institution, as a movement, as a collection of politicians — that has done unique, extensive and possibly irreparable damage to the American political system.

Even today, many people like to imagine that the damage has all been President Trump’s doing — that he took the Republican Party hostage. But the problem goes much deeper.

First, beginning in the 1990s, the Republicans strategically demonized Congress and government more broadly and flouted the norms of lawmaking, fueling a significant decline of trust in government that began well before the financial collapse in 2008, though it has sped up since. House Republicans showed their colors when they first blocked passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Plan, despite the urgent pleas of their own president, George W. Bush, and the speaker of the House, John Boehner. The seeds of a (largely phony) populist reaction were planted.

Second, there was the “Obama effect.” When Mr. Bush became president, Democrats worked with him to enact sweeping education reform early on and provided the key votes to pass his top priority, tax cuts. With President Barack Obama, it was different. While many argued that the problem was that Mr. Obama failed to schmooze enough with Republicans in Congress, we saw a deliberate Republican strategy to oppose all of his initiatives and frame his attempts to compromise as weak or inauthentic. The Senate under the majority leader Mitch McConnell weaponized the filibuster to obstruct legislation, block judges and upend the policy process. The Obama effect had an ominous twist, an undercurrent of racism that was itself embodied in the “birther” movement led by Donald Trump.

Third, we have seen the impact of significant changes in the news media, which had a far greater importance on the right than on the left. The development of the modern conservative media echo chamber began with the rise of Rush Limbaugh and talk radio in the late 1980s and ramped up with the birth of Fox News. Matt Drudge, his protégé Andrew Breitbart and Breitbart’s successor Steve Bannon leveraged the power of the internet to espouse their far-right views. And with the advent of social media, we saw the emergence of a radical “alt-right” media ecosystem able to create its own “facts” and build an audience around hostility to the establishment, anti-immigration sentiment and racial resentment. Nothing even close to comparable exists on the left.

Mr. Trump’s election and behavior during his first 10 months in office represent not a break with the past but an extreme acceleration of a process that was long underway in conservative politics. The Republican Party is now rationalizing and enabling Mr. Trump’s autocratic, kleptocratic, dangerous and downright embarrassing behavior in hopes of salvaging key elements of its ideological agenda: cutting taxes for the wealthy (as part of possibly the worst tax bill in American history), hobbling the regulatory regime, gutting core government functions and repealing Obamacare without any reasonable plan to replace it.

This is a far cry from the aspirations of Republican presidential giants like Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, as well as legions of former Republican senators and representatives who identified critical roles for government and worked tirelessly to make them succeed. It’s an agenda bereft of any serious efforts to remedy the problems that trouble vast segments of the American public, including the disaffected voters who flocked to Mr. Trump.

The failure of Republican members of Congress to resist the anti-democratic behavior of President Trump — including holding not a single hearing on his and his team’s kleptocracy — is cringe-worthy. A few Republican senators have spoken up, but occasional words have not been matched by any meaningful deeds. Only conservative intellectuals have acknowledged the bankruptcy of the Republican Party.


Danneau said...

The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre.

--- Frank Zappa

The curtain is drawing back and they're about to remove the props from the scene.

the salamander said...

.. its hard to envision how the American populace may react
but regardless, the GOP and Trump are 'brands'
sinking and unable to swim..
Hell, they're afire and sinking at anchor

Comey and Mueller though,
show that the 'damage control' department aboard
is still active.. functional..

The madness of Donald, and the stupifying gracelessness
seems to have run aground while on fire
Unfortunately flr him, the onboard firefighters are also forensic
intelligent.. actually patriotic.. capable
no talk n blather.. all action

The photographs of Robert Mueller in Viet Nam
versus bone spur hero Trump in his marching band
gold embroidered fopishness.. are stark reminders..

Who's who.. in the field of reality & credibility

It sure aint Donald ..

Trailblazer said...

You will see or hear little of this on the USA's favourite news media, Fox news and Facebook.
Hence the ignorance or indifference.


Anonymous said...

Bigotry against Republicans just makes progressives and People of Color second class citizens in the Democrat party. (Same with their counterparts in Canada and Britain.) It takes away all their leverage. They are motivated by fear of Republican wolves while being fed to neoliberal wolves in sheep's clothing.

Notice the Fake News media wasn't sounding off car alarms 24/7 when Bush Jr. was in power. They were saying: look at all this evidence of WMDs in Iraq! We must invade! This housing bubble is a booming economy! These mortgage-market derivatives are an economic miracle! Free trade creates jobs and prosperity!

They are inciting hysteria against Trump because he's not on board the neocon/neolib coalition of bribe-takers. He's stopping free trade globalization which is savaging workers, real incomes and the environment. He's stopping a reckless flood of immigration bringing gang violence and terrorism to disrupt the public peace and agitate the people. He stopped the Deep State's Cold War with Russia revival which should earn him a Nobel Peace Prize (if the award had any meaning, which of course, it does not.)

Here's quote from Wikipedia on Lenin. He knew what the problem was a century ago. Obviously didn't have the right solution. That would come a few decades later in John Maynard Keynes who created the 'New Deal' mixed-market system in the actual political center: government, economy and media of, by and for the people.

'Lenin believed that the representative democracy of capitalist countries gave the illusion of democracy while maintaining the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie"; describing the representative democratic system of the United States, he referred to the "spectacular and meaningless duels between two bourgeois parties", both of whom were led by "astute multimillionaires" that exploited the American proletariat.[447] He opposed liberalism, exhibiting a general antipathy toward liberty as a value,[448] and believing that liberalism's freedoms were fraudulent because it did not free labourers from capitalist exploitation.[449]'

The Mound of Sound said...

Interesting Anon even if a little trite. Are you a Leninist now? An anarchist perhaps? Either way you seem unhesitant in rallying to a serial sexual predator/deviant. I have wondered how Trump supporters reconcile his perversion with their fondness for the guy. Maybe they just have a high tolerance for that sort of thing - or maybe it's something more.