“Having Been Unable to Strengthen Justice, We Have Justified Strength”

That’s a quote concerning justice and strength from the dim past of 350 years ago–another proof that not much changes across the pages of history–by philosopher-mathematician Blaise Pascal, dead since 1662.

EhrenreichbarbaraBarbara Ehrenreich writes in the Huffington Post; "The Democrats are feeling empowered — in part — by the resounding echoes of change that is ringing in their ears."

That would be a hopeful message, if it were true. But what is more likely to be ringing in their ears is a phone call from Squibb or Martin-Marietta. Meanwhile, what rings in the ears of the electorate (the 55% that is left of it) is the apathy and incompetence  of the long-awaited congressional control by Democrats.

Ehrenreich is not easily dismissed. She was a regular columnist for Time, currently contributes regularly to The Progressive and has written for the New York Times, Mother Jones, The Atlantic Monthly, Ms, The New Republic, Z Magazine, In These Times, Salon.com, and other publications. Author of some 20 books. The lady knows the territory and, to her credit, has not become inured to echoes of change ringing in ears.

We’ve seen the first act of the play yet to come, titled "Democrats Back in Charge." It’s had a bunch of bad 2006 reviews. Spencer Tracy had it right about stage presence; "learn your lines and don’t bump into the furniture."

Thus far, Democratic control has yet to achieve either goal. At a time when Democrats need desperately not to act like Democrats, Harry Reid tries to morph from wrestling-coach to statesman. It’s just not in the man from Nevada. The hand is a bust. Pelosi, all wriggly and giggly from her moment of fame has shown herself to be too partisan a dominatrix of House discipline to serve her country in time of need. 

  • We are no closer to getting out of Iraq than before
  • The uncontrolled (and disastrously un-admitted) real estate bubble has imploded in a mire of  fraud and conspiracy
  • Health care is an issue for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
  • Impeachment of the most criminal administration in the history of the country remains ‘off Nancy Pelosi’s table.’
  • A small and unheralded, largely unseen military dies on a daily basis to prove the unprovable staying of a headstrong president’s course
  • This new and toothless ‘Congress of change‘ can’t even enforce its will to bring testimony from a successfully defiant executive branch

Pelosi and Reid are terrified, not of impeachment (or the fantasy that it will complicate election 2008), but of their personal roll in the Democratic complicity that an impeachment trial would reveal. Every single step of the way, the Bush administration’s murky wreckage of American ideals was approved by Democrats.

The ongoing whine that Pelosi & Co just can’t get past a need for 60 votes in the Senate is ample evidence. Republicans were in exactly the same position. Had Democrats the will, had Pelosi and Reid the guts, Bush would never have been able to run off with the country.

Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay at least had the guts not to give a shit. They stood there, guns blazing and dressed the theft of American politics as a Contract With America. Had Bush and Cheney not been so heavy-handed, the Gingrich-DeLay legacy would not yet be at risk.

American government has been on the take for decades, mainlining the intravenous drip of special interest money until the body politic tumesced from bloat. Democrats were (and are) in on the deal, a consideration that sets the stage for massive disappointment once November has come and gone. (Which November of which year has recently become a question, since we seem to have gravitated toward multi-year campaigns)

"Change" is a feel-good, but meaningless word. Defined as "Become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one’s or its former characteristics or essence."

Parse that, baby. Become different (Democrat rather than Republican) without permanently losing former characteristics (power, greed) or essence (the best government money can buy). Justice doesn’t happen to be a part of change in this context and we are full-circle, back to the brilliant observation of Pascal that in the absence of justice, strength will suffice. Or the promise of strength, the hope of strength, the vision or the image of strength, when strength itself has proven too costly.

This self-servingly constructed framework of government under whose foot we find ourselves has to be ripped apart and reconfigured to serve society. We need to pull the money out of legislating and I don’t see a program (or even an admission such a thing exists) on the part of national or regional candidates.

I am uninspired that the very legislators who have pounded together these lobbyist- congressional- military- industrial- pharma- agri- oil complexes (nail by nail, like Jesus on the cross) are the ones upon whom we must rely to tear it all down. Don’t ask a theologian to tear down the church.

Barack can’t do that, nor can Hillary or John. Only citizens in the streets can do that and they are busy at the moment, lowing like cattle behind the fences government has erected for them. Unless.

Unless it all comes down on their (and our) heads in a massive failure of the American and world economies, a financial disaster of the breadth and scope of 1929. That would, essentially, change all the rules as it did in the aftermath of the Hoover administration, a time not too unlike our own.

There’s little purpose in speculating on that scenario. If it happens, it will not be a subject of speculation, but one of reality and the cards will fall as they may–but certainly, they will fall.

I find it personally interesting that, in the wake of the most frightening upheaval Wall Street has faced in recent decades, that Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke have contrived (some might say conspired) to keep the Dow-Jones happily above 12,000. They have done that by irrationally, unsettlingly and without precedent, opening the money pumps to private investment banks. The money in that pipeline does not exist. They printed it.

Your and my house, car, furniture and lawnmower is worth half today of what it was when George Bush took office.

You will not be aware of that, because it is not likely you have reason to keep up with international currencies. Within the United States, all seems well. The waters are quiet. Outside America, a financial tsunami has taken place and the dollar is on the brink of collapse. No one wants our currency. No one wants our debt. No one wants much of anything America has chosen to export in the past seven years.

It seems that, having failed to strengthen justice, we have pulled off the double-whammy of failing to justify strength as well. Meanwhile, the two candidates upon whom we pin our faintest of hopes in the most perilous of times, have descended to a controversy over which among them is or is not elitist.

The government we demand is, unfailingly, the government we deserve.
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