Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Things are not going well
It looks like we've passed so many turning points in Iraq that we've ended up driving around in a circle. For those of you who've been watching the news reports and wondering how the recent insurgency stacks up against the average month in Iraq, the news isn't good. An average of 2.57 coalition soldiers are dying every day as we head into the long, blistering summer. The average for the whole war stands at 2.32, so little progress has been made in restoring order. This thing could go on for a decade. The political process, while ongoing, appears stalled as well, with major disagreements over the composition of the constitutional committee.

Meanwhile, the markets are simply not responding to the Bush administration's treatment. The Dow has dropped more than 2% this year, and stands at right about where it was when Bush was elected nearly five years ago. Oil is trading at $55 a barrel, and we aren't even at peak driving season yet, when the kids get out of school and Americans begin zipping back and forth across the country in their suburban assault vehicles to beaches, mountains, and resorts. The governor of the largest and most important state in the country has decided to waste millions of dollars for a "special election," another opportunity to use California's screwy initiative process to handcuff future legislators and of course, to stick it to the beleaguered unions. Every good Republican must wake up every morning wondering how they can make life harder for the working poor and the lower middle class. What'll it be today, boys? Debt peonage? How about raising property taxes, crippling state and local budgets, and stripping funding for higher education? Check, check, and check. The shift of corporate responsibility for pension plans to the government's last-resort Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation has begun, and the losers will, of course, be the workers, while the dying airlines funnel more money to their overpaid and incompetent executives. The evisceration of the middle class continues unabated, and America is nearing its transformation into a pyramid society dominated by a tiny class of corrupt capitalists lording it over a society of debt-ridden and overburdened wage-earners.

In the international arena, the U.S. is getting itself into an extremely nasty trade dispute between Boeing, which recently lost its title as the world's largest airplane manufacturer, and Airbus, a European consortium. The U.S., whose state governments routinely and shamelessly outbid one another to see who can give Boeing the most tax breaks and shelters, has the gall to accuse Airbus of "illegal subsidies." A more plausible explanation is that the U.S. just doesn't like seeing its prize corporation getting embarrassed by those lazy Europeans, who, after all, aren't good at anything except slopping at the welfare trough and marching in peace rallies. Iran is busy signing trade deals with its neighbors, making a U.S. or Israeli strike on the country's nuclear facilities all the more lame-brained. That doesn't mean it won't happen, though. In the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli stalement shows no signs of breaking. Israel, which has been offered a comprehensive peace by its neighbors in exchange for a return to the perfectly sensible borders of June 5, 1967, currently refuses to negotiate with any of them, preferring to use Natan Sharansky's stupid book and George Bush's empty rhetoric as a foreign policy instead of resolving disputes with its imperfectly democratic neighbors. The Iraq War, which was supposed to break this impasse, has apparently done nothing to make the Israelis more inclined to negotiate, despite a long lull in Palestinian violence. But no one in America cares much what happens to the Palestinians, who, like black people and those silly Muslims, probably deserve their fate anyway, right? The fact that the entire Muslim world loathes us because of this policy doesn't seem to mean much to George Bush (nor did it mean much to any of his predecessors).

The 2006 elections for Congress and the Senate are starting to seem very important. The public is quite rightly dissatisfied with the performance of its idiotic House of Representatives, whose only major accomplishment this year has been to make it harder for Americans who have fallen on hard times to get out of debt. The Democrats must use the next year and a half to define themselves comprehensively as a party of opposition -- against tax cuts for the rich, against the obliteration of government services, against endless war and the further emasculation of civil rights, and against the petty grandstanding typified by the Schiavo case and the judicial brouhaha. And then they must actually win an election. This country desperately needs new leadership. We are being led gleefully off a cliff by a gang of religious and ideological zealots who will almost certainly cushion the fall for themselves on the broken corpses of the lower classes.

And thanks again to those of you who re-elected this epic fool despite the fact that you disapprove of him and nearly everything he and his bankrupt party choose to do.

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