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calendar   Saturday - November 03, 2012

the deep divisions in American society

Romney, who wants to shrink the U.S. government, is on record as wanting to cut back the Federal Emergency Management Agency… which is the very department now responsible for post-Sandy recovery.
The vast majority of Americans can see that when a major catastrophe strikes, only central government can deal with the problems.
But the truth is that when this hurricane crisis has passed and this election is over, the deep divisions in American society will persist, with incalculable consequences for the nation.
I have a profound faith in the American genius. But unless the people and politicians of this great country can learn to find common purpose on big issues, its future will be blighted by their frighteningly divisive hatreds.

And so ends an article by Max Hastings in yesterday’s Daily Mail.
Now then, Hastings is a conservative writer and a well known historian. Which doesn’t mean you will like everything he has to say. And he had a heck of a lot to say. 

As he did here.

Forget the storm. The real dangers facing America are hatred, division and a collapsing political system

By Max Hastings

An astonishing number of Americans, almost all living in the vast middle of the country, really do believe God takes a hand in their politics, just as they are sure He frowns on Muslims, gays, socialists, gun control supporters and most folks on the east and west coasts (foremost among them the citizens of that sink of liberal iniquity, New York City).

But it is unnecessary to be an evangelical Christian to see that the devastating storm may have fractionally tilted this exceptionally close election to the advantage of Barack Obama.  The spectacle of him being presidential, touring flood-stricken New Jersey and co-ordinating relief and recovery efforts, should boost the Democrats.  But the fact that such a random event could prove to be a crucial factor in who occupies the White House for the next four years emphasises the profound divisions in this country.

For more than ten years, Democrats and Republicans have glared at and abused each other across a yawning chasm.
Last Saturday, I was in Chicago’s old Hilton Hotel for the first time since I reported the bitter and violent Democratic Convention of 1968, when Vietnam war protesters battled with Mayor Richard Daley’s cops on the streets outside, and clouds of tear gas drifted into the lobby. That was also the year when assassins’ bullets killed John F Kennedy’s brother Bobby and civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

Yet, although I vividly recall the passions and turbulence, nobody then suggested that the very process of democracy was imperiled.
The truth is that Americans have always taken pride in their system and its separation of powers between the Presidency, Congress and Supreme Court. Now, however, serious and thoughtful people argue that the constitution created in 1776 is cracking open at the seams.

A conservative-dominated Supreme Court routinely delivers judgments which seem partisan and occasionally even whimsical. For example, few justices display sympathy for even the mildest gun controls — though domestic shootings are a plague. Indeed, recent massacres in Wisconsin and Colorado did not prompt restrictions on weapons, but, instead, new rules in some colleges which allow students to carry guns on campus ‘for self-protection’.

Historically, the Supreme Court’s justices have been forces for national unity — for instance, on the issue of civil rights. Yet today their collective wisdom is being questioned as never before.

National unity.? Oh right.  I forgot.  Like the forced busing.  Yeah, that one sure brought us all together singing we are the world.

Even more serious is the situation in Congress.
Traditionally, the U.S. government is carried on through relentless horse-trading between the White House and the two parties on Capitol Hill — a process of which President Lyndon Johnson was a master in the 1960s. In recent years, though, bargaining has broken down.
Both parties, and especially the Republicans, behave in a way that sees them reflexively oppose anything proposed by the other. Such stonewalling has inevitably hampered action to curb the huge fiscal deficit.

For their part, most Democrats reject cuts in a welfare system that has become almost as unaffordable as Britain’s.

The Republicans, meanwhile, scorned a proposal for a bipartisan committee to address the deficit. They reject all tax increases and ignore the blatant unfairness of Mitt Romney paying just 14 per cent last year on millions earned from his investments, while most middle-class Americans pay more than double that rate.

At the same time, the poor and middle-class in America have seen their incomes shrink in recent years while the rich have become colossally richer. Official statistics show wealth divisions at a historic high.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says: ‘Inequality in our society has become so extreme that it is adversely affecting our economy...it is no longer just a moral issue.’

This is a reality I was contemplating in Chicago this week as I looked at the glittering palaces of wealth that crowd the downtown skyline while, at the same time, beggars haunt Michigan Avenue.

This is not the only social problem.

There is a lot more at the link.  You will find some very interesting arguments among the many comments following the article.

What you’re reading is one man’s professional take on the state of America, and presented to his readership here in the UK. He may anger some but keep in mind, for all the time he has spent in the USA on his travels and on assignments, he still belongs to a foreign culture not used to American ways.  Most of these folks, not the left but many conservatives and others who have no link to either side, simply do not understand why in the face of mass killings, we don’t push for stiffer gun control.  They just don’t understand and I doubt there’s any way we can answer the questions that would make it clear.  And that’s just one issue of quite a few.  I gave up long ago but many still bring the subject up.

Then there’s another thing we read here and that’s New Orleans.  We read that large parts of the city and indeed the state are still in abysmal shape.  N.O.?  Still in bad shape?  I have no idea and only am made aware of it because ppl here are saying it.  But I haven’t checked the accuracy of that.  Maybe I should just so I can be informed.  Kind of embarrassing being asked about something in the USA by someone here, and me not knowing what the heck they’re talking about.

The other damn thing I keep hearing and have to scratch the old head over, is that America has a serious problem with, wait for it,
Obesity.  Say what?
Now why that should be a concern to anyone here is quite beyond my understanding.  I should think their number one concern would be street crime, knife attacks and brutal beatings by an out of control criminal class that is growing, and especially in light of the fact that thousands are being let out of jail who are very dangerous ppl.  But no. Obesity in the USA.  WTF?

Okay, here’s the LINK to the entire editorial.


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 11/03/2012 at 04:40 AM   
Filed Under: • EditorialsUSA •  
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