Sunday, July 01, 2007

Is There Any Light At the End of the Tunnel?

Typically, I’m not one to post rants. It’s just not my style. Instead I enjoy reading the skilled rants of others. Maryscott O’Connor’s rants on My Left Wing for example are a touchstone for my own emotions about the state of the world. Nobody cuts to the chase like Maryscott.

Another who inspires me is Bob Higgins of Worldwide Sawdust. There is an old cliché that laughing is better than crying and Bob has the singular ability to help me laugh at the absurdity we’re surrounded by on a daily basis.

When it comes to rants I leave it to the professionals and stick to my strengths. Yet today I’m compelled to express my despair and feeling of utter helplessness. The Supreme Court’s recent rulings were a kick in the groin.

Granted, these rulings are hardly a surprise. Electing conservative presidents such as Ronald Reagan or anointing them as was done with George W. Bush has consequences. The Supreme Court is largely why I’ve put my misgivings about the Democratic Party aside and volunteered in efforts to increase voter turnout electing their candidates to the Senate and White House. Sadly, the calamity others and I have warned about and worked so hard to prevent is here.

Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas are hell bent on raping this country of every legal protection it can for consumers, employees and minorities. Chief Justice John Roberts is an affable corporatist who shares their ideology while his written opinions put diplomatic spin on their reactionary crusade. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the so-called moderate “swing vote,” is straddling the fence between socially tolerant corporatism and corporate fascism.

Liberal Associate Justice John Paul Stevens is eighty-seven years old. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed Associate Justice by President Clinton in 1993 is seventy-four years old. At sixty-nine, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer is no spring chicken. Neither is Associate Justice David Souter at sixty-eight. These aging four represent a disintegrating minority that only occasionally can hope to nudge Justice Kennedy towards judicious sanity. If one of them dies or retires prior to George Bush’s term expiring, the Supreme Court will be lost for a generation – if it isn’t already.

Scalia is an acerbic seventy-one and so is the fence straddling Kennedy. However, the insipid Thomas is only fifty-nine while Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Samuel Alito are fifty-two and fifty-seven respectively. So even if my ideal fantasy candidate were elected president in 2008, chances are the best that could be achieved is replacing aging liberals with younger liberals.

It’s doubtful any ground would be gained, especially if a Democrat were only elected to one term. Perhaps, if a Democrat were elected to two terms, we might have the chance to replace Scalia or Kennedy. As history shows however, Democrats are not elected to two terms very often. And something tells me Scalia is the sort who can eat cheeseburgers and drink heavily until he’s 100.

Meanwhile, the campaign for president is leaving me cold. Hillary Clinton, who didn’t read the National Intelligence Estimate prior to her support of Bush’s war, is waging what I would describe as the “West Coast Offense” campaign. She’s completing short passes down the field, delivering well-crafted sound bites and not taking any chances.

Her chief rival, Senator Barack Obama, is opposing her with a “prevent defense.” He’s allowing her to complete short passes as he drops his linebackers and secondary thirty yards from the line of scrimmage and giving her maximum room. He won’t blitz no matter what the score is and for damn sure he won’t challenge Senator Clinton’s judgment about her failure to do her job properly in 2002-03. And on the issue of impeachment for Bush and Cheney, Obama was quoted in USA Today as saying,
“I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breeches, and intentional breeches of the president's authority."

I believe if we began impeachment proceedings we will be engulfed in more of the politics that has made Washington dysfunction. We would once again, rather than attending to the people's business, be engaged in a tit-for-tat, back-and-forth, non-stop circus."
I can understand the argument that impeachment isn’t practical in the time Bush/Cheney have left. I don’t agree with it but I can understand it. But Obama's implying this administration isn’t guilty of grave breaches of authority. With judgment like that why should I regard him as any better than Senator Clinton?

Rhetorically, I prefer Senator John Edwards to the other declared candidates. But I can’t follow all his contortions and contradictions about whether or not he read the National Intelligence Estimate prior to casting the most important vote of his one term in the Senate. Nor do I see a viable savior among Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich or Bill Richardson. Even worse, I don’t believe Americans have a moral problem with the Iraq War. Americans are fed up with Iraq because we’re losing. Ultimately, our leaders reflect each of us.

I know cynicism undermines activism. I hate feeling cynical. It’s like an insidious toxin ravaging my guts. I’ve registered many voters by telling them apathy and cynicism is what the war mongering agents of status quo greed rely on to perpetuate their outrageous rule. Cynicism doesn't wear well with me.

Perhaps I’m just going through a funk. Supposedly this country is becoming more liberal in its attitudes, especially among the young. And we’ve overcome obstacles such as the Great Depression, Adolph Hitler and avoided Armageddon during the Cold War. History is replete with calamities and the sun still rises everyday.

But when I look at the religious fanaticism gripping this country and the world, the globalization predator that promotes slave labor and poverty, the ticking time bomb of global warming and continued genocide in places like Darfur, hope is elusive. Obama wrote about the "Audacity of Hope" and Senator Clinton married the man from Hope but neither inspires it.

I’m not giving up. I’ll probably volunteer through Citizen Action New York in 2008 instead of carrying a partisan party banner. Best to think locally and act globally. Make a difference where I can. But if there is some kind of light at the end of the tunnel I'm not seeing it right now.


Gledwood said...

"anointing" ... i like that ... just as Great Britain has done with the dreaded gordon brown

let's see what nonsensicalities that bufoon brings into being, i don't know

great blog i love your point of view

all the best


ps drop by mine sometime:

Ambivalent_Maybe said...

Good rant. I tend to agree that too much ranting--or just ranting for the sake of it--is counterproductive. But one can only take so much w/o letting off some steam now and then.

Yes, the Republicans have screwed us pretty good. And thanks to their thirty years of political dominance, they will continue to screw us even after we vote most of them out of office.

FDR ran into problems with the Supreme Court, too. I don't necessarily endorse a court-packing plan--like he tried but failed to pass--but there are things to be done w/o waiting for Scalia or Alito to retire. A better congress, for one, will help a lot.

jude cowell said...

Great post, not ranty at all.

The funk you're in has hit here as well. Hope-fully it will soon pass.


Bill said...

Hi Rob,

The Court is truly scary. There will be consequences for some time to come for the country.

Your sense that the Democratic candidates aren't offering much hope is also well-founded. I just watched the highlights of the Moveon climate change town hall and, aside from Edwards, there was a whole lot of the usual "I'm the anti-Bush" bluster, without many thoughtful specifics (unless you count Kucinich and his hand-drawn circles on a piece of paper as a real plan) mentioned.

I like the idea that you'll spend time on NY issues and organizing locally. Whatever the national situation, it's important to work locally and ally with folks who can make a difference in our communities.

Hang in there!


I am having such a tough time trying to decide who to vote for. I am sure it will come down to the person I disagree with LEAST. :-(