Thursday, March 26, 2009

War or Civilization?

At a time when many Americans are losing their jobs and homes, the one safe place to be employed seems to be cable TV news. There is no shortage of talking heads to rehash the same issues over and over. There is seldom any news,
and certainly no actual reporting–just news models, repeating the same things, endlessly. In fact, CNN and Fox News have even given new life to commentators like the virtuous Bill Bennett, and the toe-sucking Dick Morris. Anyone with an intellect higher than that of a sea sponge doesn’t have any expectations of intelligent commentary from Fox, but when did CNN become a Fox clone?

Night after night, a parade of privileged beltway handwringers holds forth on the economy - in particular, the Wall St. economy. They have no interest in what’s happening to real working people. They don’t cover the tent cities that are springing up in warmer climates, or the shocking increase in homeless children. Ali Velshi, with his ooompa-looompa orange make up pontificates nightly on the fate of Wall St, AIG, and the incomes of the wealthy, or at least the still employed – with the assumption that all Americans are heavily invested in Wall St. The real world does not intrude.

The 24-hour cable news cycle creates a sense of dishonest urgency. We hear them screaming about the economy for weeks, and wonder, why hasn’t Obama fixed it yet? None of the banshees are honest enough to point out that what is wrong with the economy actually has its roots in the Reagan administration – 30 years ago. This isn’t going to be fixed overnight. We’ll be digging ourselves out of this mess for decades. Speaking of St. Ronnie – a reminder. Ronald Reagan doubled the national debt and tripled the deficit while he was in office.

The recession/depression has certainly brought about an amazing transformation – Republicans are suddenly talking about fiscal responsibility! For eight long years, they were silent while the Bush Administration did its best to destroy the US economy. In fact, they stood by and applauded while Bush borrowed close to a trillion dollars to pay for the war he shouldn’t have started in the first place. There was no pious talk of the debt we would be saddling our children and grandchildren with coming from them – not then, anyhow.

NH’s own senior US Senator, Judd Gregg is determined to stay in the limelight, after his abortive cabinet nomination. A few weeks ago, he published an op-ed in the Washington Times where he spoke of the proposed Obama budget, “In other words, the president's proposal is a massive and breathtaking document, and it should not be called a budget. Rather, it should be called a blueprint for the France-ification of America, a notebook for nationalization, or a memo for massive debt creation.” Where was Judd for the last 8 years, while Bush poured taxpayer dollars into Iraq without even getting a receipt?

Oh, that’s right -Senator Gregg was busy waving pom-poms in his cheerleader uniform as he worked hard to pass every single Bush budget. Senator Gregg was happy to borrow enormous sums and hand them over to the Pentagon. This is the same Pentagon that can’t pass an audit, or account for some $2.6 trillion in cash and assets. A look at the federal discretionary budget pie chart reveals that over half of the pie goes to the Pentagon. A little tiny sliver goes to education. This illustrates our national spending priorities very clearly. We’re more interested in killing people than educating them.

Still, one has to admire Judd Gregg’s audacity. He can opine about “France-ification” knowing that the media certainly won’t be holding him accountable, in Washington or New Hampshire. It’s even almost understandable. Gregg doesn’t want to make changes to the US health care system. He has excellent health insurance, and that’s all that matters! Those silly Frenchies, those cheese-eating surrender monkeys – why they have the best health care system in the world! France has the healthiest people. You can see why Bootstrap Judd would hate the French. According to GOP gospel, health care is reserved for the deserving and the wealthy. Those socialists in France think everyone should have equally good care. By all means, let’s issue a collective national sneer against that idea.

In looking through statistics to find out what it is that the United States is number one in, these days, I found interesting statistics. Finland is #1 in education; Sweden is #1 in literacy. The US ranks 45th in public spending on education. The Netherlands is #1 in civil and political liberties, followed by Australia, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, and the US in seventh place. Iceland is #1 in DSL access, while the US is 21st. Norway is #1 in gender empowerment, while the US ranks #11.

This was all kind of depressing, so I dug deeper, to find a couple of areas where the US is doing very well. We’re #2 in child poverty! Mexico is #1, but the increase in joblessness and homelessness may well push us over into first place. We can all go forth and trumpet our pride at being Number One in teen pregnancies! Abstinence only sex ed has been a success after all. We'RE NUMBER ONE!!

The US spends more on defense than all other countries in the world, combined. As a result of that kind of prioritizing, we are increasingly less healthy, less educated, less literate, and less free. It would be worth discussing that, as we attempt to rebuild the US economy.

“Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.”
~Abraham Flexner

Published as an editorial in the Conway Daily Sun on March 27, 2009


1 comment:

DissedBelief said...

I'm so glad Susan,you addressed the talking heads of Fox/CNN who do nothing but scream rhetoric and senseless nonsence. In fact, they very much remind me of old movies I've seen of the Fuhrer and his crowd who would yell and scream, instilling hysteria among the masses (shades of Limbaugh). And contrasting your thoughtful statistic laden article in the Sun, are letters by individuals who left their IQ's at the trapdoor. One letter whines about our Presd. consuming $100 steaks and "flying in big name entertainers" but doesn't mention his beloved Bush who spent the majority of his Presidency in Crawford playing on his mountain bike. I have to wonder exactly what water or food right wingers consume, that we all live in the same place yet see it so very differently. A close friend of mine who occasionally risks engaging me in these conversations is right wing, and has no idea what Apartheid was, what the history of the Palestinians/Israelis is, and cannot name one Supreme Court justice (but insists that the Supreme court is terribly liberal). Herein I believe we have found the Truth. And right wingers to coin a phrase, cannot handle it, but prefer to have a twisted version of it thrown and flung at them like fecal matter out of a cannon. Which reminds me of McLaughlin who writes the vilest most Apartheid thinking rubbish I've ever come across. He loves to wax about equality but doesn't do a very good job veiling his clear disdain for anyone who isn't his color, gender or mindset. Too bad they didn't all keep going down the trapdoor.