Saturday, July 5, 2008

CenterShot: The Myth Of The Middle

Lately there has been a growing and increasingly loudly voiced call from some of the more extreme centrists and from the DLC itself pushing the idea that to win elections - the upcoming 2008 presidential election comes to mind for some strange reason - and gain power Democrats will have to move sharply to the right, and that liberals and progressives are dooming America to successive republican administrations.

Sunday morning, March 11, 2007 in "Where Is America's True Center?" David Sirota wrote that:

The purported proof of such an assertion by Democratic Leadership Council mouthpieces Elaine Kamarck and Bill Galston was this finding:
"In 2004, only 21 percent of voters called themselves liberal, while 34 percent said they were conservative. The rest, 45 percent, characterized themselves as moderate."
The Washington media joined with Kamarck and Galston in billing this as an extraordinary finding that proved once and for all that Democrats must become more "moderate" or "conservative" because so few voters labeled themselves "liberal."
Sirota also went on in the same post to note that:
[C]onservative pundit James Joyner shows exactly what I'm talking about. Responding to a new Gallup poll showing more Americans label themselves conservative rather than liberal, Joyner admits:
"This is especially interesting considering that the public seems to continue to demand liberal policies, opposing even nominal market-based reform of Social Security, continuing to push for the socialization of health care, expecting instant bail-outs for poor financial decisions, and generally wanting more federal spending on a variety of social programs."

Put another way, all that corporate front groups inside the Democratic Party really prove when they cite polls on "liberal" vs. "moderate" vs. "conservative" labeling is how well the right has vilified the term "liberal" and how nebulously appealing and Apple Pie-ish a term like "moderate" is - but they prove nothing about where the public actually is on issues. That the Washington media goes out of its way to ignore this by, for instance, continuing to label as "fringe" antiwar Democrats representing the antiwar position of most Americans is a testament to how powerful the Beltway status-quo-defending propaganda system really is.
So what do the numbers really show us about where the mainstream of America is on the political spectrum? Well, in late 2004 and early 2005 Pew Research conducted an in depth Political Typology study of American society: Beyond Red vs. Blue. It's Principal Findings, among other things, were that:
Coming out of the 2004 election, the American political landscape decidedly favored the Republican Party. The GOP had extensive appeal among a disparate group of voters in the middle of the electorate, drew extraordinary loyalty from its own varied constituencies, and made some inroads among conservative Democrats. These advantages outweighed continued nationwide parity in party affiliation. Looking forward, however, there is no assurance that Republicans will be able to consolidate and build upon these advantages.

Republicans have neither gained nor lost in party identification in 2005. Moreover, divisions within the Republican coalition over economic and domestic issues may loom larger in the future, given the increasing salience of these matters. The Democratic party faces its own formidable challenges, despite the fact that the public sides with them on many key values and policy questions. Their constituencies are more diverse and, while united in opposition to President Bush, the Democrats are fractured by differences over social and personal values.
And as Profiles of the Typology Groups break down, Liberals [Liberal Democrats/Seculars/60's Democrats] comprise the largest group at 17% of General Population and 19% of Registered Voters, followed by Conservative Democrats at 15% of Adult Population and 15% of registered Voters.

Enterprisers [Staunch Conservatives] made up only 9% of Adult Population and 10% Registered Voters, tied with Pro-Government Conservatives on both scores.

Liberals have swelled to become the largest voting bloc in the typology.

And since Pew Research did their study there have been a couple of curious occurrences. Just anomolous blips, obviously. Probably mean very little, if anything. Heh. One was the November 2006 mid-term election rout of the republicans. That was a good indication of a strong rightward shift, no? What the hell could people have been thinking? Didn't they know? Hadn't anyone told them that they were supposed to move to the right? Jesus, just how in the hell are you going to run a proper democracy unless people do what they're told? Things would be so much easier if this were a dictatorship, right George?

George? Well, since the 2006 midterm elections George W. Bush's job approval ratings have continued the same calamitous slide towards falling off the bottom edge of the page. (see Historical Bush Approval Ratings)

Liberal progressives as a group are beating the rest of 'em, hands down.

Sirota concluded with the observation that:
Democrats major problem in recent years has been their willingness to listen to the tired - and inaccurate - rhetoric of people like Kamarck and Galston who have continued to push the party away from America's true center.
And Obama is the guy who is going to get us out of Iraq?

There's more: "CenterShot: The Myth Of The Middle" >>

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Why the Iraq War is Destroying the US Economy

The cost of Bush's war on Iraq war has surpassed one trillion dollars but there is no evidence of it benefiting the US economy. It is time to drive a stake through the heart of the malicious lie that wars are good for the economy. Only the Military/Industrial complex benefits from war and what is good for the MIC is NOT good for the country.

The MIC is a drag on the economy, an economic black hole into which is drained the economic and creative resources of the nation. The economic benefits of building a tank are temporary. Once built, the tank is a drag, requiring more to upkeep than war booty can justify. It returns absolutely nothing for the investment. In the end, only the military contractors building the tank or maintaining it have benefited and they will have done so at taxpayer expense. On a larger scale, the Pentagon is an economic black hole, having sucked the life blood from the US economy.

One of the most pernicious economic myths is the idea that war helps the economy. In reality, war is destructive and it always results in economic retrogression and misery.

The US economy didn’t really recover until 1946, when the immediate postwar period witnessed the dismantling of the command economy in favor of a much more liberalized market economy. Peace brought military demobilization, deregulation, and perhaps most importantly, a seventy-five percent reduction in government spending. This was a genuine peace dividend and it set the stage for America’s legendary post-war economic boom.

--War and Economic Decline
The idea that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy is sold and promoted. In fact, new studies now confirm what I have always believed and what Gore Vidal had stated in his classic: The Decline and Fall of th American Empire.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has blamed the Iraq war for sending the United States into a recession. On Wednesday, he told a London think tank that the war caused the credit crunch and the housing crisis that are propelling the current economic downturn. Testifying before the Senate's Joint Economic Committee the following day, he said our involvement in Iraq has long been "weakening the American economy" and "a day of reckoning" has finally arrived.

--Is the Economy a Casualty of War?
Now --war critics have the economic data and models proving that military spending 'diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment.' This thesis is likewise confirmed in a paper by Thomas E. Woods at:

The obvious lies about the war have been exposed. Not enough attention has been focused on the one of the biggest con jobs of them all ---right up there with WMD.

More at The Existentialist Cowboy

There's more: "Why the Iraq War is Destroying the US Economy" >>

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

US: A Force of Stability in Iraq?

Imagine if one of Vice President Dick Cheney's bodyguards was shot and killed during a Christmas party. Imagine that the trigger-man was known. Do you think it would be big news? Do you think the trigger-man would face some kind of court process? Certainly.

But on Christmas Eve in 2006, a US contractor from Blackwater shot and killed a bodyguard of Iraqi Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Most Americans probably didn't hear about it in the corporate media and, as of recently, there has been no judicial process.

Now imagine if a relative of President George Bush was killed by a foreign military force conducting a security raid in the United States. Hard to imagine, eh? But the reverse has just happened in the Iraqi state of Karbala. We did hear about this recent incident as the news zipped by in the 24-hour news cycle a couple days ago...

Outraged Iraqi officials demanded an investigation into an early morning U.S. military raid Friday near the birthplace of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. The [Karbala] governor's brother, Hassanein al Khazaali, said late Friday that the Iraqi killed in the operation was a relative of the U.S.-backed prime minister.
How many times have we heard "demands for an investigation," to be conducted by the fox guarding the hen house (US military)? We rarely hear the results of these investigations, and if we do, they're usually like those of the Haditha Massacre. US Marines involved in Haditha have gotten away with venting their deadly rage on three unarmed college students and a cab driver happening by the site of a roadside bombing that killed a Marine. The Marines also entered two houses and killed most of the occupants, including women and children. By the end of their spree, the Marines had killed 24 apparently innocent Iraqis.

We're supposed to believe the Marines were just following standard procedures. If we take them at their word, the US "procedures" can lead to the massacre of 24 civilians, an incident that is probably more common than we'd like to believe [1]. These very destabilizing "standard procedures" are contrary to the stated "security" mission of the US. This chain of logic justifies the withdrawal of US military forces from Iraq, but you won't hear this analysis voiced in the elite media.

My point? High profile killings by US forces in Iraq go by with little news coverage (more examples below). Countless similar incidents occur without any comment. These killings would cease if the US would leave Iraq. Again, the logic is clear: The US government isn't a force of stability in Iraq, rather it is an arm of corporate colonialism, which is very destabilizing.


McClatchy, Iraqi officials outraged by U.S. raid in prime minister's hometown, Hannah Allam and Sahar Issa.

[1] Given the size of Iraq, most incidents go unreported in the media. We get a glimpse into this by high-profile incidents that do make it into the mainstream, like the April 2003 US killing of journalists in the Palestine Hotel, and the US killing of a senior Italian intelligence official, Nicola Calipari, as he was helping evacuate Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena who had been kidnapped in Iraq. Additional insight can be gained from the testimonials of US soldiers who spoke during the March 2008 Winter Soldier Hearings organized by Iraqi Veterans Against War.

Photo Credit: Relatives mourn near the bodies of children killed in a U.S. raid in Tikrit March 15, 2006. Eleven people, most of them women and children were killed when a house was bombed during a U.S. raid north of Baghdad, police and relatives said. (AP Photo/Bassim Daham).

Originally posted on GDAEman Blog


There's more: "US: A Force of Stability in Iraq?" >>