Morning Line: 2011 in brief

Where we stand, totter, or fall as we approach a new year. . .

Sam Smith

Hope and change moved last year from the White House to the tents of protesters in downtown urban America. They seem much happier there.

The Congress has become one of the few places in America where the 99% are consistently wrong and the 1% represents the bulk of America.

We seem to be living in a new Middle Ages where the only safe place is a farm, village or monastery (assuming you’re not a young boy). But these things can change quickly, witness the shift from the catatonic 1950s to the activist 1960s. 

My optimistic view of what’s happening comes from the civil rights debate in the 1960s. The southern Democrats back then were basically fighting a furious but losing battle to stop inevitable change. The current GOP seems quite similar, a last cry for things that can not last. On the other hand, there is nothing equivalent to the civil rights movement to replace today’s archaic Republican philosophy and, when I remember that, my optimism fades.

The Republicans are trying to reverse 80 years of political progress in one election cycle. We haven’t seen anything like this since the Redeemer movement of the post-Reconstruction era, which also worked to lower taxes, cut government spending, slash public funds for transportation and welfare, and change voter registration laws to cut black and poor white voting.

Barack Obama is the most conservative Democratic president since Grover Cleveland. He even outdoes Bill Clinton, founder of the Vichy Democrats. His major problem is not that he’s black, but that he’s a Harvard Law School grad who thinks, talks and acts like one. His empathy seems contrived, his solutions inadequate and his passion under perpetual house arrest.

Republicans and Democrats are not really arguing about progress vs. regression, but at what speed the latter will occur. The 2012 GOP primaries are like the playoffs before a Super Bowl between two conservative leagues playing the same game under the same rules but with different players.

The occupier movement is the most exciting political development in several decades. Its role is not to define change, but to open the door so change can enter. This it has done. Now, let’s see who walks through.

For years, many believed salvation lay in the Democratic Party. Today, this party believes in stupid foreign conflicts, huge bank subsidies, destruction of the public school system, and ending civil liberties – combined with extraordinary indifference to those who have lost their jobs and/or their homes.

The following continue despite decades of failure:

  • Our imperial foreign policy and useless wars
  • The war on drugs
  • Policies that favor large corporations over small business and citizens
  • Environmental policies that refuse to include the major factor of population growth

Politicians and the embedded media talk about the fiscal problem as though it was our major crisis, while ignoring the unemployment and foreclosure crises that cause immediate pain to far more people and are a major cause of the fiscal problem. Further, the Fed has printed more money for banks in trouble than the Super Committee needs to meet its budget goals.

America, as a constitutional republic, no longer exists. We are controlled by random power exercised in a culture of impunity, which is to say that those with power do what they want and betray whomever they want.. This is one reason you find so many adulterous politicians. They learned it on the job.

Here are some things that set a good record in 2011:

  • Lung cancer rates among women declined for first time. Men’s rate continued to fall.
  • The teenage birth rate was at a record low

 Here are some things that set a bad record in 2011:

  • Global emissions of carbon dioxide
  • Record number of children homeless
  • Number of underemployed
  • SAT reading score
  • Number in poverty
  • Number and percent using food stamps
  • Percent of Forbes richest 400 making money from money: 25% now vs 8% in 1982
  • Housing building permits
  • Housing price collapse
  • Percent of young people with jobs
  • Number not in labor force
  • Percent of American men employed
  • Black-white wealth gap

Here are some things that got better in 2011

  • The Iraq war seems to have ended for the time being
  • Number of black businesses
  • Violent crime down for the fourth straight year. Property crime down for the 8th straight year.
  • Highway deaths lowest since 1949

Here are some things that got worse in 2011

  • Black unemployment
  • Corporate tax revenue
  • Percent of Americans in poverty
  • Percent of Americans in the middle class
  • Food prices
  • Percent of Americans without health insurance
  • Home purchases
  • Housing starts

Race to the bottom: the worst of 2011

Public institutions: New York City Police, Homeland Security, Republican Party 

Corporate institutions: ALEC, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, RIAA, Koch Brothers

Corporate officials: Koch Brothers, Lloyd Blankfein

Public officials: Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, John Boehner, Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Michael Bloomberg, Rick Santorum, Barack Obama, Janet Napitolano Sarah Palin, Eric Holder, Arne Duncan

Media – Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh 

Celebrities – Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen

And, finally, thanks to (among many others). . .

Occupiers, Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, Elizabeth Warren, Robert Reich, Dean Baker, Ralph Nader, Glenn Greenwald, Sarah Van Gelder, Fair Vote, Mark Thompson, those working to end corporate personhood, the Green Party, my new Ipad, Greg Mitchell, the Guardian, Project on Government Oversight, Political Wire, Antiwar, Don Imus, ACLU, Gawker, Life Hacker, Counterpunch, Colin Woodard’s book, American Nation, Population Institute, Jon Stewart, Joe McHale

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