Michael Ratner, AlterNet, March 19, 2013
|The liberal establishment willfully played along with the preposterous claims that led to the Iraq War.|
|Ten years ago, between January and April 2003, it is estimated that an unprecedented 36 million people around the world took to the streets in protest against the Iraq War. They believed the war entirely unjust, the evidence of a threat, flimsy, and the costs, in terms of lives and otherwise, potentially astronomical. Worldwide protests, from Rome to Manhattan, brought together hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions to collectively voice opposition.In any just government, these astounding numbers would give pause to the war-wagers in power. In a truly democratic America, these sentiments should have been represented in Washington. And surely this moment should have been the cue for our “liberal media” to echo the cautionary cries of our protesters to deafening levels. Instead, our reliably bellicose Republican congressmen were joined in support by an overwhelming majority of our so-called liberal representatives, and war went ahead as planned.Even more alarmingly, in the months preceding the start of the war, the pages of the New York Times would greet us with more banging of the drums: a demand by Thomas Friedman that France be kicked out of the Security Council for its refusal to join up, or a startling piece of war propaganda by then soon-to-be Executive Editor Bill Keller, fantasizing about the impact of a one-kiloton nuke detonated in Manhattan – 20,000 incinerated, many more dying a “gruesome death from radiation sickness.” But make no mistake: although the New York Times has a shameless history of supporting war after war, other prominent mainstream journalists and intellectuals were eager to ride the bandwagon. These names include George Packer of the New Yorker, Newsday’s Jeffery Goldberg, The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart, Fareed Zakaria, Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Paul Berman to name a few.The late Tony Judt sized up this whole lot most aptly with the label “Bush’s Useful Idiots.” The “useful idiots,” he said, were those from within the liberal establishment who, either through a misguided attempt to project strength, willfully played along with preposterous WMD claims, or simply allowed themselves to get carried away with the imperialistic fervor surrounding a new call to war, abdicating the responsibilities upon which liberal ideology is based. Instead, they aligned their positions with the neo-conservative architects of the Iraq War. Continue reading|
[Glenn Greenwald, an analyst/journalist of progressive reform politics, reveals the likely path of Democratic/Obama/liberal cuts in major historic social programs such as Social Security and Medicare in the weeks ahead. Many who supported Obama as the last, best defense against such cuts, will find, now, that the system, which has created the economic and fiscal crisis, has no means or will to solve the problem it has made. — Frontlines ed.]
Obama and progressives: what will liberals do with their big election victory?
With fights over social security, Medicare, ongoing war, and other key progressive priorities looming, what will they do with their new power?
To begin with, it is hard to overstate just how crippled America’s right-wing is. Although it was masked by their aberrational win in 2010, the GOP has now been not merely defeated, but crushed, in three out of the last four elections: in 2006 (when they lost control of the House and Senate), 2008 (when Obama won easily and Democrats expanded their margins of control), and now 2012. The horrendous political legacy of George Bush and Dick Cheney continues to sink the GOP, and demographic realities – how toxic the American Right is to the very groups that are now becoming America’s majority – makes it difficult to envision how this will change any time soon.
Meanwhile, new laws to legalize both same-sex marriage and marijuana use were enacted in multiple states with little controversy, an unthinkable result even a few years ago, while Obama’s late-term embrace of same-sex marriage seems to have resulted only in political benefit with no political harm. Democrats were sent to the Senate by deeply red states such as Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota, along with genuinely progressive candidates on domestic issues, including Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, who became the first openly gay person elected to the Senate. As a cherry on the liberal cake, two of the most loathed right-wing House members – Rep Joe Walsh of Illinois and Allen West of Florida – were removed from office.
So the delirium of liberals this morning is understandable: the night could scarcely have gone better for them. By all rights, they should expect to be a more powerful force in Washington. But what are they going to get from it? Will they wield more political power? Will their political values and agenda command more respect? Unless the disempowering pattern into which they have voluntarily locked themselves changes, the answer to those questions is almost certainly “no”.
Consider the very first controversial issue Obama is likely to manage, even before the glow of his victory dims, literally within the next couple of weeks. It is widely expected – including by liberals – that Obama intends (again) to pursue a so-called “Grand Bargain” with the GOP: a deficit- and debt-cutting agreement whereby the GOP agrees to some very modest tax increases on the rich in exchange for substantial cuts to entitlement programs such as social security and Medicare, the crown legislative jewels of American liberalism. Continue reading