FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Masturbating on the Edge of the Apocalypse

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

It’s the merry laugh on the lip of the abyss.  Christine O’Donnell, senatorial candidate with her “no hand jobs” program has cast an unfamiliar ray of sunshine over the surreal landscape of American politics.

In terms of political fun this has been a bleak decade. Not since Monica Lewinsky eagerly confided to friends she was strapping on her kneepads for service in Bill Clinton’s Oval Office have politics offered as such simple enjoyment as  O’Donnell, the Tea Party girl  (41 but still young at heart) from Delaware, visibly bursting with sexual pizzazz, chuckling merrily as solemn reporters rake through  what they piously term her “troubling” resume. This  same resume is mostly  par for the course for millions of Americans (a lien from the Internal Revenue Service against unpaid taxes) or business as usual for  95 per cent of all members of Congress – use of political funds for personal expenditures.

“But that was when I was in high school!” she cries gaily  when they play the clip from Bill Maher’s Show in 1999 when she gave us the great line, “I dabbled in witchcraft but I never joined a coven,” so much more alluring a denial than Clinton’s “…but I never inhaled.”  How could one not yearn for O’Donnell’s victory on November 2 over stuffy Democrat Chris Coons, when she goes on, “One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar and I didn’t know it. I mean there’s a little blood there and stuff like that…”

And famously too O’Donnell has nixed masturbation, on the grounds that autotelic satisfaction is by definition a betrayal of the moral principal that lust should only be satisfied by conjunction with a marriage partner (of the opposite sex.)  Democrats cluck about the eccentricity of this position, thereby implying  that in their view masturbation is a perfectly respectable practice and only a kook would decry it. Back in Clinton-time few of them rallied to the defense of Clinton’s surgeon-general, Jocelyn Elders, fired by the President in 1994 after she’d said that masturbation could  prevent young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity” and as a part of human sexuality ”perhaps it should be taught.”

This is all light opera amid the shrill insanity of American politics, where Forbes magazine features on its cover a piece by Dinesh D’Souza advancing the proposition that  “The U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s.This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son.” This utterly mad claim about the sedately imperialist Obama is then flourished by Newt Gingrich, one of the nation’s more prominent Republicans, who declares it to be “brilliant.”

The Democrats keep the focus on O’Donnell, somehow hoping that, thus primed, voters across America will come to the conclusion that Republicans are unfit to govern, and reject them on November 2.  It’s a very foolish strategy. Tea Party candidates promoted by Sarah Palin are doing well in some states.  Not O’Donnell. It’s sadly clear that Delaware’s voters are now concluding that O’Donnell’s true vocation is  on Bill Maher’s Show or as a follow-on from Bristol Palin’s appearance on Dancing with the Stars. She  lags behind her Democratic opponent by 15 points in the race for Joe Biden’s former senate seat.

But for Democrats to fixate on O’Donnell is like focusing on the “threat” of  Little Red Riding Hood instead of taking a close look at the true threat lurking in the woods. This is a general popular fury with incumbent politicians, most particularly Democrats, since they control both houses of Congress, with a Democrat in the Oval Office. As a roadside sign I just saw in southern Oregon put it, put it, “Remember to throw out the trash. Vote on November 2.”

It’s becoming clear that by the end of  Election Day Democrats could be reliving the terrible double punch they endured back in 1994 after two years of Bill Clinton: the loss of not only  the House but the Senate.  The House is surely going Republican. Democrats can count on 192 certain seats in the next Congress, Republicans 205, with what the Real Clear Politics (RCP) site – crunching  the numbers –  says are 38  seats “too close to call”. You can bet that this year more of these will tend to fall the Republican side of the line.

In the Senate  Democrats, according to RCP, can count on 48 seats, Republican 46 with 6 too close to call.  Of these six  at least four could go to  Republicans, starting with Tea Party star Sharron Angle  in Nevada and heading east through Colorado, Illinois to West Virginia. And in this year of Throw Out the Trash, Democrats can’t count on “safe seats” to be truly safe.

A huge new factor is the consequences of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last January in the Citizens United case. The Court ruled that corporations should encounter no impediment in sluicing money into elections via so-called “independent expenditures” theoretically bypassing direct contributions to a candidate. Already, at this point in the electoral season, Republican senate candidates have benefited from $23.3 million in these independent expenditures, while Democrats have only seen $3.3 million thrown their way.

Even as the Left quavers theatrically about the O’Donnell threat, they are almost certain to lose their strongest antiwar voice in the US Senate, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. On November 3  we could be heading into two years of a Republican Congress, infused with the inflamed certitudes of triumphant Tea Partiers. Will Obama display the back-to-the wall agility of Bill Clinton, triangulating back from political ruin? Probably not. Amid a fierce Depression and a Republican Congress he will have exultant foes, disappointed supporters, scant options and thus  a thousand knives raised and ready to plunge into his back.

It will be exciting, good for the journalism business, but surely not light-hearted fun. Enjoy O’Donnell for the next five weeks.

Can the “Peace Process” Get Any More Cruelly Absurd?

Yes it can, or Si, se puede, as the “honest broker” Obama would say.  In our latest newsletter, Kathleen Christison details the new round of negotiations between Palestinians and Israel, sponsored by Obama & Co. As Christison writes:

“The deck in these negotiations is clearly stacked against the Palestinians and against any possibility of resolving or even addressing the root of the conflict and Palestinian grievances going back to 1948.

“Imagine a peace process and, if the peace processors get their wish, a peace settlement that ignores major aspects of Palestinian interests –

“that ignores an entire portion of Palestinian territory in Gaza, along with its 1.5 million imprisoned inhabitants;

“that ignores Hamas and the reality that it was democratically elected by a people dissatisfied with the leadership of those Palestinian leaders now sitting at the negotiating table;

“that ignores Israel’s continued inexorable absorption of land, a phenomenon of which settlement construction is only one manifestation;

“that ignores the reality that prevention of any Palestinian state is part of the founding principles and the political basis of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, which itself sits to the left of other right-wing parties in Netanyahu’s coalition;

“that ignores the immense significance of the strong U.S. partnership with Israel, particularly the Kafkaesque reality that the U.S.A. – the supposed mediator – gives one party to the negotiations the firepower with which to suppress the other.”

Read this savage, indispensable report inn our subscriber-only newsletter.

Also in this terrific issue, Bill Hatch on the new speculative real estate bubble swelling day by day in California. Without booms and busts capitalism wouldn’t be capitalism. Love it… or change it.

And in America capitalism wouldn’t be capitalism without methodical racism. Mike Snedeker on a new map of hell — the New Jim Crow.

I urge you to  subscribe now!

ALEXANDER COCKBURN can be reached at: alexandercockburn@asis.com

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail