Thursday, September 1, 2011

The New America Era of Political Paranoia

The McCarthy era was infamous for that drunken Senator's abuse of power, claiming to spot "commies" everywhere, in order to build up his political "prestige" at the expense of innocent lives destroyed. The HUAC committee ruined many lifes sending some to prison but also "tainting" many others. I had a college friend whose parents had signed a petition for the Rosenbergs and as a result for decades the FBI dutifully went to every employer telling them that their new employee was a "suspect" pinko and trying to get them to fire his parents. That was "the American way" of the McCarthy era.

I thought those days were long gone. But they aren't. With the start of this new millennium, the Republican party has taken an even more extreme turn to the right and since Obama's election real fanaticism has taken hold. You now get a representative shouting "liar!" at the President as he addresses a joint session, you have a Speaker of the House that refuses to give the President a date to address the joint session and instead dictating when he will "allow" the President to address the legislature. You get politicians unashamedly pandering lies about Obama being a "socialist" about his birth certificate being doctored and his loyalty. Outrageous, shameless accusations that the American people are allowing to be done to a sitting president. Incredible.

Here is a bit by Paul Krugman in a NY Times op-ed that talks about the poisonous tenor of US politics:
“Have you left no sense of decency?” That’s the question Joseph Welch famously asked Joseph McCarthy, as the red-baiting demagogue tried to ruin yet another innocent citizen. And these days, it’s the question I find myself wanting to ask Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, who has done more than anyone else to make policy blackmail — using innocent Americans as hostages — standard operating procedure for the G.O.P.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Cantor was the hard man in the confrontation over the debt ceiling; he was willing to endanger America’s financial credibility, putting our whole economy at risk, in order to extract budget concessions from President Obama. Now he’s doing it again, this time over disaster relief, making headlines by insisting that any federal aid to the victims of Hurricane Irene be offset by cuts in other spending. In effect, he is threatening to take Irene’s victims hostage.

Mr. Cantor’s critics have been quick to accuse him of hypocrisy, and with good reason. After all, he and his Republican colleagues showed no comparable interest in paying for the Bush administration’s huge unfunded initiatives. In particular, they did nothing to offset the cost of the Iraq war, which now stands at $800 billion and counting.

And it turns out that in 2004, when his home state of Virginia was struck by Tropical Storm Gaston, Mr. Cantor voted against a bill that would have required the same pay-as-you-go rule that he now advocates.

But, as I see it, hypocrisy is a secondary issue here. The primary issue should be the extraordinary nihilism now on display by Mr. Cantor and his colleagues — their willingness to flout all the usual conventions of fair play and, well, decency in order to get what they want.
Go read the whole article by Krugman.

Dark days are ahead for Americans because they have allowed a poisonous politics to arise. This is similar to the bitter partisanship and fanaticism that filled the air prior to the Civil War. During that time representatives showed the same disrespect, hurled curses and accusation, and on one occasion even had a Southern fanatical Congressman beat another. Those dark days are back.

From Wikipedia:
Two days later, on the afternoon of May 22, Brooks confronted Sumner as he sat writing at his desk in the almost empty Senate chamber: "Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." As Sumner began to stand up, Brooks beat Sumner severely on the head before he could reach his feet, using a thick gutta-percha cane with a gold head. Sumner was knocked down and trapped under the heavy desk (which was bolted to the floor), but Brooks continued to strike Sumner until Sumner ripped the desk from the floor. By this time, Sumner was blinded by his own blood, and he staggered up the aisle and collapsed, lapsing into unconsciousness. Brooks continued to beat the motionless Sumner until his cane broke at which point he left the chamber. Several other Senators attempted to help Sumner, but were blocked by Keitt who brandished a pistol and shouted, "Let them be!" Keitt was censured for his actions.

Brooks was later fined $300 for his actions.
If that isn't graphic and murderous enough to make clear the growing doom of the US and the coming bloody, bloody Civil War, I don't know what else it would take. Today's battles aren't yet to that pitch, but they are fast getting there. That's why I foresee very dark days ahead for America. The fanatics -- racists, bigots, moral fools filled with their own righteous indignation -- are loose upon the land.

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