Washington is a one party town.
The party of the Aristocrats. The Elite. The Nepotists.
“This beautiful capital,” President Clinton said in his first inaugural address, “is often a place of intrigue and calculation. Powerful people maneuver for position and worry endlessly about who is in and who is out, who is up and who is down, forgetting those people whose toil and sweat sends us here and pays our way.” With that, the new president sent a clear challenge to an already suspicious Washington Establishment.
And now, five years later, here was Clinton’s trusted adviser Rahm Emanuel, finishing up a speech at a fund-raiser to fight spina bifida before a gathering that could only be described as Establishment Washington.
“There are a lot of people in America who look at what we do here in Washington with nothing but cynicism,” said Emanuel. “Heck, there are a lot of people in Washington who look at us with nothing but cynicism.” But, he went on, “there are good people here. Decent people on both sides of the political aisle and on both sides of the reporter’s notebook.”
Emanuel, unlike the president, had become part of the Washington Establishment. “This is one of those extraordinary moments,” he said at the fund-raiser, “when we come together as a community here in Washington — setting aside personal, political and professional differences.”
Actually, it wasn’t extraordinary. When Establishment Washingtonians of all persuasions gather to support their own, they are not unlike any other small community in the country.
On this evening, the roster included Cabinet members Madeleine Albright and Donna Shalala, Republicans Sen. John McCain and Rep. Bob Livingston, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, PBS’s Jim Lehrer and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, all behaving like the pals that they are. On display was a side of Washington that most people in this country never see. For all their apparent public differences, the people in the room that night were coming together with genuine affection and emotion to support their friends — the Wall Street Journal’s Al Hunt and his wife, CNN’s Judy Woodruff, whose son Jeffrey has spina bifida.
But this particular community happens to be in the nation’s capital. And the people in it are the so-called Beltway Insiders — the high-level members of Congress, policymakers, lawyers, military brass, diplomats and journalists who have a proprietary interest in Washington and identify with it.
They call the capital city their “town.”
- THIS IS THEIR HOME.
- THE LYING OFFENDS THEM.
- ESTABLISHMENT WASHINGTON REVERES THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENCY.
- THEY UNDERSTAND THE CONSEQUENCES.
Too much unintentional truth for you? I didn’t write it.
I do say this-
There is nothing more inflammatory or controversial you can do than point out that the essential structure of the elites is to perpetuate their own power through monopolies enforced by the power of the state.
I sense a disturbance…
The Confines of US Elections & the Scorn a Person Can Face for Challenging Them
By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake
Thursday January 5, 2012 8:43 pm
Various “progressive voices” that agree or sympathize with GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul’s positions on wars, foreign policy and civil liberties have spoken in favor of the possible impact Paul could have on debate in this country during the 2012 Election. Those individuals have been quickly met with fervent disapproval from liberals who have reflexively suggested that any comments that could be considered supportive of Paul essentially mean one is “endorsing” Paul, urging people to support someone who opposes reproductive rights for women, arguing there are only marginal differences between Paul and President Barack Obama and that Paul just might be their secret political hero.
First, let’s establish the following: (1) I am not a supporter of Ron Paul’s campaign and I have no intention of donating money to the campaign (2) I sympathize with many of the positions that have compelled “progressive voices” to value his presence in the 2012 Election (3) I respect Paul’s right to run in the election and do consider him to be a serious candidate and (4) I fully expect liberals to reflexively point to Paul’s ultra-conservative positions, which lead him to support policies that particularly hurt women, minorities and even gays and doing so will only reinforce the points that I am making here.
Reason magazine frames the dilemma progressives are confronted with best: “What to say about a presidential candidate who wants to end foreign and domestic wars and protect civil liberties against the imperial presidency?”
For many progressives, this was what they were dedicated to as activists when President George W. Bush was president. They engaged in activism against the Iraq and Afghanistan War. They were opposed to more wars in countries like Pakistan or Iran and fought hard especially in 2006 to show that the Bush Administration might be going to war with Iran. They protested Bush’s use of torture and called for Guantanamo Bay to be shut down. They opposed Bush’s use of warrantless wiretapping and the expansion of surveillance state in America. They were opposed to the imperial presidency of Bush and were even moved to call for the impeachment of Cheney and Bush for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
I am certain many progressives hoped Obama would clearly be on the other side of many of these issues. But, as his campaign for re-election kicks into high gear, this is the reality, a part of the “new normal” as ACLU referred to it. President Barack Obama has shielded officials who committed crimes during the Bush administration from accountability for engaging in warrantless wiretapping, torture, or rendition; invoked state secrets to prevent transparency; denied detainees habeas corpus and signed a National Defense Authorization Act that grants the military extraordinary powers to detain US citizens indefinitely without trial; continued to hold detainees at prisons like Guantanamo and Bagram in Afghanistan (in addition to black prison sites that likely still exist); employed navy ships to hold prisoners that can no longer be sent to Guantanamo because there will be public outrage; asserted an authority to target and kill US civilians and bypass due process; and forced detainees into military commissions or “kangaroo courts” that are essentially Kafkaesque proceedings where it is nearly impossible to not be found guilty.
Obama has gone after whistleblowers and stalled efforts to make government more transparent. He has expanded the use of drone warfare and used it in a way that has had a destabilizing impact in Pakistan. He has gone along with President George W. Bush’s plans for the Iraq War and had there not been a cable released by WikiLeaks that upset the Iraqi government because it detailed a massacre of Iraqi civilians carried out by US soldiers, which the US government had refused to investigate, the US might not have said it would withdraw all its soldiers by the end of 2011.
Imagine having to debate Paul on wars, on possible war with Iran, on drone warfare, on the expansion of the surveillance state and the PATRIOT Act, on the war on drugs, on transparency, whistleblowing and WikiLeaks, etc. Then, imagine President Obama having to find a way to neutralize and marginalize Paul’s positions. In the general election, there would inevitably be a wide space opened up for debate on foreign policy and civil liberties that would not be unlike the space for debate that Occupy Wall Street has opened up on economic inequality and injustice in America.
Additionally, Paul’s progressive critics, who are righteous in their opposition to him, would be able to watch President Obama challenge Paul on the very issues that lead them to chastise progressives who say anything that could be construed as supportive of Paul. President Obama could challenge him on reproductive rights, government regulation, marriage equality, health care, taxes and the role of the federal government in providing welfare to citizens.
This may all sound like a fairy tale that will never happen, but the point is not whether it is realistic or not. The point is that if Obama’s had to run against Paul he would have to answer questions on some very important issues, which he has had a dismal record on in his first term as president.
Hmmm… Imagine that.
Democratic Party priorities
Glenn Greenwald, Salon
Thursday, Jan 5, 2012 5:50 AM Eastern Standard Time
For those who are extremely dissatisfied with the status quo in American political life and are seeking ways to change it, supporting one of the two major-party candidates in the 2012 presidential campaign as the principal form of activism offers no solution. That’s not an endorsement for resignation, apathy, non-voting, voting for a third party, or anything else. It’s just a simple statement of fact: on many issues that progressives themselves have long claimed are of critical, overarching importance (not all, but many), there will be virtually no debate in the election because there are virtually no differences between the two candidates and the two parties on those questions. In the face of that fact, there are two choices: (1) simply accept it (and thus bolster it) on the basis that the only political priority that matters is keeping the Democratic Party and Barack Obama empowered; or (2) searching for ways to change the terms of the debate so that critical views that are now excluded by bipartisan consensus instead end up being heard.
(L)abeling people “crazy” as a means of dismissing their views – basically depicting political disagreement as a mental illness – is one of the oldest and stalest means of discrediting people who dissent; it’s basically the prime weapon used to enforce mainstream orthodoxy and punish dissidents. Taken to its most extreme and odious conclusion, the Soviet Union institutionalized anyone challenging Communist orthodoxy in mental hospitals, and China now does the same. Charles Krauthammer continuously abused his psychiatric license to diagnose Bush critics as suffering from mental illnesses and to delegitimize (progressive) criticisms of Bush as a form of insanity; to accomplish this, he even purported to identify a new disease, Bush Derangement Syndrome, which is the exact phrase (with “Obama” symbolically replacing “Bush”) that has now seamlessly been adopted and applied to critics of the current President by some of the most rabid Obama defenders.
If you don’t really care about these issues – war, empire, the denial of due process, suffocating secrecy, ongoing killing of foreign civilians, oligarchical manipulation of the Fed and other government policies, militarized foreign policy and police practices, etc. – then it’s easy to blithely dismiss the need to find some way to challenge the bipartisan consensus on those issues.
(D)espite vocally feigning grave concern about these issues during the Bush years, they are not a priority for many progressives precisely because they no longer provide any means of obtaining partisan advantage. How can you pretend to vehemently oppose the slaughter of foreign civilians, the deprivation of due process, a posture of Endless War, radical secrecy, etc., when the President behind whom you’re faithfully marching is an aggressive advocate and implementer of those very policies? It’s certainly possible – based on lesser-of-two-evils rationale – to vote for a President who does these things while simultaneously opposing those policies. But for those who insist that all political salvation lies exclusively within the Democratic Party: the only course of action to reconcile these conflicts is to de-prioritize them, to decide they no longer really matter, and thus remain content with a President and a Party who does these things with such abandon.
I actually don’t believe that the progressive reaction to this discussion is about Ron Paul. The same anger would be provoked by favorably comparing any political figure outside of the Democratic Party to President Obama on important issues, especially in an election year (I can guarantee that the same reaction would be triggered by pointing to the benefits of, say, Gary Johnson, who just scored the highest on the ACLU’s Civil Liberties report card). That, as I suggested in my first article, is viewed as the supreme sin, the one that must trigger oceans of denunciation and attack in order to deter similar acts of heresy.
The point is not to delegitimize the viewing of at Ron Paul’s candidacy as providing an important antidote to some of President Obama’s grave moral and political failings. The real point is to delegitimze any effort to turn elsewhere away from President Obama or to do anything to point out that he suffers grave moral and political failings at all (here is the scorn Drum heaped on the Democratic presidential candidates in 2008 who challenged many of these same policies). The mission here is to enforce partisan loyalty: criticize all you want, but stay loyally in the fold. Even as a means to expand and improve the range of debate, suggesting that someone may be comparatively superior to President Obama on vital issues – especially when that someone is not a loyal member of the Democratic Party – is the real sin.