Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Current Events

Okay, since the NYT decided to hire Bill Kristol over me, I'll have to restrict my punditication to this space.

You may have noticed that I've had basically squat to say about the presidential campaign. I did point out that of the three Dem contenders, Edwards has the best health care plan, and Obama has the worst, but who cares, really? It's not as if an Edwards presidency -- which seems unlikely at this point anyway -- will result in the legislation he has posted on his web site becoming reality. In the best case, a Democratic president and a somewhat more Democratic congress in 2009 will result in some marginal changes around the edges. Big Pharma and Big Insurance aren't going to get rolled no matter who is elected.

In fact, the obssessive coverage of the presidential campaign has taken everybody's focus off of a lot that is going on, that really matters. To the extent it has served to create some focus, it's mostly in the form of false consciousness. For example, McCain is making his comeback largely by tying himself ever more tightly to the so-called "surge" and the prospect of "victory" in the Iraq war; and the corporate media are all busy convincing us that it's really working and the situation in Iraq is getting better. No and no. Three U.S. soldiers were killed today, but that isn't even being reported. The reason U.S. deaths are less frequent than before is not because "we are winning," it is because "we" have already surrendered. We stopped fighting the Sunni Arab insurgency, let it take over vast swaths of territory where U.S. troops and the Iraqi army no longer tread, and started bribing it to fight Islamist elements. In other words, the new policy is to accept the de facto breakup of Iraq. Where that will lead in the long run is hard to say, but it's probably nowhere good. Meanwhile, WTF are we still doing there? The people hate us and want us gone, and there doesn't appear to be any objective left.

What is most extraordinary is that the U.S is headed for a brutal economic crack up, and it's largely being ignored -- by the candidates, by your member of congress, and by the corporate media. Emperor Chimpoleon, running his programming, has come forth to insist that it's a reason to make the tax cuts for the wealthy permanent -- and economic boom times would an equally good argument for that position, of course -- but nobody else seems to have a plan, or even to be noticing. With the huge public and private debt, unfunded pension liabilities (no, not Social Security, but state and local government and private corporations), Medicare and Medicaid deficits, and deteriorating infrastructure hanging over us like the sword of Damocles, a recession will cut the thread. Hello!

Climate? If an outbreak of tornadoes in January doesn't get your attention, nothing will.

But coverage of the presidential campaign is about none of this. It's about who is for "change," and who is crying, and who is "for real" and who is "phony." Hell, I don't care how phony the candidate is, so what? Mitt Romney's gay bashing may be insincere, but that is not the basis on which I evaluate it. I'm sure Mike Huckabee really is a Christian dominionist to the very depths of his being, but the genuineness of his beliefs does not endear me to him. Maybe Hillary Clinton does restrict herself to saying stuff in public that has been tested with focus groups, but who gives a shit? Update: I also don't give a shit whether she cried on purpose or not. If she's that good an actor, good for her.

In November I assume I'll vote for the Democrat. Meanwhile we have bigger fish to fry.

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