Thursday, August 24, 2006

Is it fear and panic or just bread and circuses?

(This post just wasn't gelling, but I'll put it up anyway)

There is an oft quoted and probably overused line that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting that somehow the outcome will be different. As applied to the political world....well... it is and it ain't.

In military matters (which at this point are wholly intertwined with politics) I think that this definition of insanity applies. In Iraq for example, we set out to keep a relatively small military force on ground, thinking it would be sufficient to control the situation and that it would allow us to sit back and watch democracy bloom. It’s working brilliantly. In fact it’s working so brilliantly that three years in we’re still doing the exact same thing. According to the aforementioned definition, that is really insane.

In more truly political matters doing the same thing over again might not be so bad, at least not for the GOP. The news that I do get is full of stories about the President and his minions out and about telling the people that the Democrats are almost like terrorists and that voting for them will cause everything from new attacks in the United States to the further and ultimate decay in the moral fabric of our nation. This strategy really has worked wonders in the last two elections so I can see why they’d trot it out again.

I heard a quote this evening from Karl Rove speaking to a hand-picked group of GOP supporters at a $5,000 per plate dinner at a Cleveland country club. His explanation was that the Democrats just don’t understand the terrorist threat. He suggested that decorated Vietnam Marine veteran and outspoken critic of the Iraq adventure John Murtha was a ‘doting’ old man who should update his maps of the world.

Good thing Karl Rove served in the Marines so he can compare himself so favorably Mr. Murtha.

It’s going to be that kind of election season again. A campaign marked by a McCarthy-esque lack of shame in leveling reckless charges against people who question direction of the GOP and the President.

Terrorism is the new ‘Bread and Circuses’. Every time the administration needs to distract the electorate from its own incompetence – whether the war or domestic policies that would be deeply unpopular if people were paying attention – they drag out terrorism. Suddenly the people become rapt and compliant and under the cover of an always imminent green cloud of poison gas the administration cuts services to the poor, or eliminates overtime guarantees for whatever workers it can, or it cuts taxes for billionaires, or it reneges on promises to help reconstruct New Orleans…. The list goes on, all in the name of national security.

Frankly, I haven’t heard these guys actually come up with a new idea to fix anyhing in a while, let alone a good one. It really is just bread and circuses.


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