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Monday, 03 January 2011 03:01

Can Democrats Turn Disaster Into Something Positive for 2011?

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The most bigoted, angriest segments of our population are in full cry. The right wing spreads deceit and misinformation on a daily basis - - advocates proudly proclaiming a victory of conservative values with no sense of how the “loyal opposition” is meant to behave, as recently elected officials begin to set their right-wing agendas in motion.

The recession, a greed-induced, free-market extravaganza is being used to justify policies that would once again undercut social programs and re-endorse the very flawed notions that brought the country to its knees. And just when you thought the ghosts of government past had drifted off into the ether former New York Governor Pataki blamed a recent bombing attempt in Times Square on what he called the administration’s weak national security credentials despite the fact that a combination of local police, the FBI and the Office of Homeland Security apprehended the perpetrator in a matter of days.

Why wasn’t the attacker identified as a potential threat Pataki asked, as if every free-lance terrorist could be subverted and the former governor were a true patriot, not just using the incident for partisan purposes, an approach that only encourages our enemies to believe we are weak and/or ineffectual.

Then, in the face of the BP mess, everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Heck-of-a-Jerk Brownie posted bizarre scenarios faulting the president for his response to what some call his “Katrina,” the current disaster deemed a rare occurrence that shouldn’t deter us from extensive, continued off-shore drilling. However, explosions and oil spills at other BP rigs suggest that the company is not risk averse. And assertions that off-shore drilling reduces dependence on foreign entities ignore the fact that oil production at such sites is sold on the international market - - a profit-making enterprise not necessarily geared to advancing our national energy interests.

Most deplorable about the charges leveled at the president after this fearsome incident is their sheer malevolence. In a self-serving attempt to excuse his incompetence with respect to Katrina, former FEMA director Michael Brown claims the President responded slowly to the BP leak so that environmental damage would discourage future deep-sea projects. Obama, he said, never supported “big oil” or off-shore drilling so the BP accident gave him a perfect opportunity to suspend such operations. Not only was there no delay, but in fact the president supports some off-shore drilling.

In any case, coming from the likes of Brown, such an allegation is beyond outrageous. Limbaugh, in an equally improbable narrative, suggested the BP explosion might have been the work of “environmental wackos.” He mused that the timing of the explosion and subsequent leak were decidedly “suspicious.” But to imagine that zealots made their way to a distant, off-shore oil rig to conduct domestic terrorism is absurdly outlandish even for Limbaugh.

And as disturbing evidence of how quickly the democratic process can be perverted Virginia is taking a sharp turn to the right with state Attorney General Cuccinelli probing the research of climate scientist Michael Mann formerly at the University of Virginia in an attempt to discredit Mann’s (now Director of the Earth Science Center at Penn State) research about climate change. Cuccinelli has also filed a lawsuit seeking to impede implementation of recent health-care legislation. Virginia must have plenty of money to spend on wide-ranging, politically-motivated lawsuits.

People may have legitimate concerns about what the president and his team propose, but for Republicans in Congress and partisan pundits in general to proclaim the “stimulus” a failure and question the administration’s safety standards is, as MSNBC’s Ed Schultz might suggest, dangerous “psycho talk” that undermines our image abroad and national security as well. Suggestions that dismantling entitlements is the answer to our national debt crisis are just a right-wing ploy to use a struggling economy for partisan purposes.

The new Congress promises to prolong a crushing ongoing encounter between November’s victors for whom just winning was enough and serious lawmakers who hope to solve the nation’s problems by retooling the economy with important structural changes. But deconstructing New Deal programs in a gleeful romp, as some on the right propose is neither a productive political exercise for conservatives nor a constructive course of action for any serious policy maker of whatever description.

It may be a meaningless verbal gesture at this point in our political lives but I’m giving it a shot nonetheless, Happy New Year!

Read 522 times Last modified on Monday, 03 January 2011 08:55