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calendar   Sunday - October 13, 2013

The United States of America looks frighteningly close to being ungovernable.

I don’t think you’ll believe it but, Max Hastings is not a left winger. He isn’t a liberal.
He’s a columnist (Conservative) for the Daily Mail and a noted historian.  I’ve read a couple of his books, and he is a good writer and well researched.
Which brings me to ….  our regulars here may get a mite PO’d at some of his comments on the doings of the great shutdown of 2013.

Hey … gives us something to think about or gripe about or both.

Meanwhile … I’d like to suggest you read the comments at the end at the link below.

This is just one of them.

James14, Basingstoke, United Kingdom, 19 minutes ago
Either you believe in democracy and the rule of law or you don’t. There is no middle line. Whatever anyone thinks of Obama, his healthcare plan was democratically passed by both Houses of Congress, upheld by the Supreme Court and ratified by his re-election. For the Republican Party to be allowed to overturn all of that on a whim would be wrong and counter to everything the US supposedly believes in. It seems to me the Republican Party only believe in democracy and the rule of law when it suits them.

America is becoming ungovernable: MAX HASTINGS’ chilling verdict on the visceral political hatreds behind the shutdown of the US government

By Max Hastings

Washington this week has basked in autumnal sunshine and bitter hatred. Like players in one of those Hollywood movies about a divided hick town with lynch mobs baying, the legislators of the greatest nation on earth trade insults about blame for the government shutdown, resulting from the stand-off on the U.S. budget.

The Senate’s chaplain, Barry Black, rolled his eyes skywards and said: ‘Save us from this madness.’

The ‘madness’ is, of course, the insistence of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives that they will vote to enable the federal government to pay its bills only if the White House agrees to suspend or scrap its national health scheme, which they loathe to the point of obsession.

Obamacare (properly known as ACA, the Affordable Care Act) is the greatest — cynics say the only major — achievement of this disappointing presidency. It provides subsidies and new regulatory procedures to bring health insurance within reach of the poorest Americans. Long-term, it is intended to lower the horrific costs of public healthcare.

Republicans hate the scheme because they claim that it will make medical care more costly for middle America, and extend the reach of the hated federal government.

Yet it is still an extraordinary step to attempt to blackmail the Democratic administration into dropping a measure that became law in 2010.
As a host of commentators point out, if Obama gave way on this issue — as assuredly he will not — the road would be open for his congressional enemies to pull the same stunt about any other law they dislike.

They could defy the intentions of the Founding Fathers of the constitution as flagrantly as the gun nuts who exploit the 1776 provision for militias to bear arms, to enable modern mass murderers to equip themselves with machine-guns. But the Republicans are seized with a self-righteousness which is impervious to reason.

In Britain, most MPs of all parties consider Westminster to be as much home as their constituencies.
But the United States is different. The senators and congressmen who fly into Washington on Monday nights and jet out again on Thursdays never cease to belong first and always to Kansas, Montana, Alabama or wherever else they hail from.

Tis a big country Max, and yeah. Many belong to the states they are from.  Come to think of it, we had an uncivil war about who belonged where, when the north decided they belonged in the south also.
Just couldn’t resist that.

Many of the legislators orchestrating the federal shutdown feel as foreign among East Coast smart-asses — as they would characterise Washington’s elite — as did the Tennessee frontiersman Davy Crockett when he was elected to Congress in 1826.

This is how the powerful Right-wing Tea Party, dedicated activists, have gained such leverage. Incumbent Republicans live in mortal dread of being ousted at election time not by Democrats, but by far-out Right-wingers on their own side.

Even if they would like to act temperately in this crisis, they dare not.

The grassroots are obsessed with firearms. I have sometimes struck up casual conversations about gun law in rural states such as Kansas or Wyoming; it is like holding a dialogue with Martians.

Many people out there sincerely believe the federal government may descend on their homes at any moment to confiscate their pistols and assault rifles, to appease the evil socialist anti-gun lobby. They insist that they must be ready to defend themselves. I have even heard one group cite a threat from extra-terrestrials.

In Britain, we sometimes deplore the decline of religion. But we should take heed of how malign its influence can be, not only in the Muslim world but also in much of the U.S. To be sure, American churches are packed on Sundays, but the gospel of intolerance which some espouse contributes mightily to today’s Washington political gridlock.

Fear is what a lot of this is about.
The Fox TV channel — the Wailing Wall of the American Right — currently advertises a hot best-seller entitled National Bankruptcy — Why The Middle Class Is Doomed. Most Republicans hate 2013.
They want to reset the clock to around 1955, when the world lived in terror of nuclear annihilation, but when Dwight Eisenhower occupied the White House, women and blacks knew their place, there was no swearing on TV, and sex was kept in its proper place under the carpet.

The British middle classes relish nostalgia: some root for UKIP because they fancy the weather would improve if we could leave Europe. But in our hearts, most of us accept that life moves on; even that some change is for the better.
But rural Republicans are not like that. They believe they have the right, duty and even power to roll back the 21st century. This week I chatted to a diplomat’s wife who attended both 2012 party conventions, who remarked on the contrast between them.

The Democratic event in Charlotte, North Carolina, featured delegates who were every colour of the rainbow, many of them young, all willing to hope.
The Republican get-together took place in a heavily-armed fortress in Tampa, Florida, and was attended almost exclusively by white-haired, white-skinned folk bereft of hope, moved only by their fears. If that seems a caricature, fast forward to now.
Those same Tampa dinosaurs have shut down large parts of Washington for 11 days. There is a real possibility that rather than give way, they will drive the jalopy over the cliff and subject the U.S. and the rest of the world to a traumatic debt default.
America has become the test-bed for a crisis of democracy.

There is a frightening debt chasm between U.S. government tax- raising and spending for which both parties share blame, but which Obama has made no real effort to address.

Even Democrats privately fume about the fact that their President may do some statesmanship, but he does not do much politics.
It is vital for all political leaders to privately meet, smooch and cut deals with legislators on whose votes they depend to implement their policies. Yet Barack Obama recoils from glad-handing.

This cool, even cold, man finds it hard to charm his friends, never mind his enemies. His natural habitat is a platform from which he can broadcast to a multitude. All successful reformers in U.S.  history, notably including Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, owed most of their achievements to backroom skills such as Barack Obama lacks.

He would argue: ‘Yeah, but that was before the Tea Party came along.’ That was also before a substantial minority of the American people became seized with such manic distrust of their own government that they decided that any and all means are justified to frustrate its purposes.
Their hatred of President Obama is truly frightening.

It is no exaggeration to say that though they call themselves Christians, a terrifying number would rejoice to see him dead. That is how poisonous is the political climate of the U.S. today.

Polls show that the American people hold the Republicans chiefly responsible for the current mess. The party’s moderates are desperate to extricate themselves. But behind them stand the Tea Party’s gunslingers, holding cocked pistols to their heads.

America remains the greatest society on earth, but its leadership looks sickly and feeble, for reasons that relate partly to this President but mostly to the fact that the U.S. constitution and its standard- bearers are failing their country.

The United States of America looks frighteningly close to being ungovernable.

there’s more here

Be cool Drew. Remember who else reads bmews.


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 10/13/2013 at 04:00 AM   
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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