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Happy New Year?

A new year is upon us, and this writer is pondering the national and international disasters of 2018, as well as gazing into his crystal ball to see what 2019 will bring. Although it is a bit hazy (it hasn’t been all too lucid since it predicted a disastrous Clinton presidency being elected in 2016), it does show a few things with some clarity. The new year does not portend to be a whole lot better than its predecessor.

So, what exactly do we have to look forward to? This writer will list just a few of them for the reader. He cautions the reader against getting his or her hopes up; the picture is not pretty.

Yes, the Democrats have wrested power, and now control the U.S. House of Representatives. Does this mean that the highly-moral Democrats, with only the good of the common man and woman in mind, will now save the nation from the corrupt, corporate-owned Republicans? Can we all now breath a giant sigh of relief? Is the nation’s long nightmare at an end? Do pigs fly?

Reality is a harsh concept, but, sadly, it must be dealt with. The incoming Democrats are gleeful at the prospect of harassing the nation’s presidential buffoon, Donald Trump, for the next two years. They will open investigations of his campaign activities, with all the accusations of ties to Russia; they will demand years (decades?) of his tax returns. They will interview has-been models and porn stars striving for just another moment in the sun, as they provide more detail than most people can possible bear of their illicit relations with the aforementioned buffoon.

That, of course, leaves no time to fix the tax program that Trump and his cohorts passed last year, which overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy. It won’t do anything to stop the bombs the U.S. drops throughout the Middle East, or move the nation toward some adherence to international law.

A brief and, in this writer’s view, very diplomatic comment was made by Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American member of Congress. She declared that she would vote for the aging, corporate- and Israeli-shill Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House. But, she said, she first wanted to meet with Pelosi to talk about poverty and “…the fact that it’s important to uplift the middle class.”  Tlaib said she “wanted to be able to be heard”. Then, a reporter asked if what she’d said ‘resonated’ with Pelosi, to which Tlaib showed amazing tact and diplomacy, but responding “I don’t know”.

Well, I will answer for the new Congresswoman; I can only imagine Pelosi eyes glazing over when the words ‘poverty’ and ‘middle class’ were mentioned. It’s remarkable that the Speaker-to-be even met with Tlaib, since Pelosi’s hostility towards anything Palestinian is well known. But be that as it may, this writer doesn’t need to be a mind-reader to be quite confident that Tlaib’s concern for the poor and middle class is meaningless to Pelosi.

In the current and recent Congresses, the members, on either side of the aisle, have seldom seen a war they didn’t like. Anything related to war is generally just fine, from financing Israeli genocide of the Palestinians, to selling record amounts of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, and supporting its genocide of Yemenis. Bombing numerous Middle Eastern countries and violating international laws designed to make that planet safe from catastrophic wars have all been acceptable to the illustrious officials who stroll the streets of the nation’s capital. Will this change? Will the new Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, with its unprecedented number of women and minorities, steer the ship of state in a saner direction? Well, the fact that Pelosi has been elected as Speaker of the House does not herald any cause for hope. This is the same woman who, as Speaker previously, said that the impeachment of George Bush for Iraqi-related war crimes was ‘off the table’. This is the same woman who was an enthusiastic supporter of the bizarre rules that ensured the nomination of Hillary Clinton in 2016. It looks as if, regarding war, we can all look forward to ‘same old, same old’.

Living conditions. There is absolutely nothing, Tlaib’s concerns notwithstanding, to indicate that the middle class won’t continue to shrink, as members of its ranks fall into poverty. More children, not fewer, will be hungry, because such luxury items as food stamps must be reduced; feeding the military budget is far more important to elected officials who rely on the ‘defense’ industry for campaign contributions, than feeding starving children. Do starving children have a powerful lobby? No? Then how on earth can they be expected to be attended to?

The nation’s education is still in the hands of the ditzy Besty DeVos, an extremely wealthy woman who basically bought her appointment as Secretary of Education through her family’s contributions to the Trump campaign. A year into her tenure, she blissfully proclaimed that she hadn’t visited any under-performing schools. She has been too busy trying to remove Obama-era protections for students who were swindled by for-profit colleges, and removing the need of young male college students to treat their female peers with some level of respect. The great champion of charter schools certainly has better things to do than concern herself with educating the children of the poor.

As this is being written, the U.S. government is partly shut down, since Congress will not give the petulant president $5 billion for a border wall, one of the stupidest ideas any president has ever suggested. And one of the provisions in the current budget proposal makes criticism of Israel a crime.

Has it actually come to this? The United States president is willing to shut down the government, because he can’t get funding to build a wall on the U.S. – Mexican border. And the budget being held up includes a major violation of freedom of speech that would not withstand any court test.

We see, on Trump’s side, his pandering to his base: those who fear anyone who is not white. We see on the other side, Democrat’s pandering to a powerful foreign lobby.

Is there anything holier to elected officials than being re-elected? Is there no higher good than that? The good of the people? Not if they aren’t rich. International law? Sure, if it’s not inconvenient. Human rights? Not necessary, as long as the nations in which those humans live does exactly what the U.S. wants.

While the pundits proclaim a new era of Democrats, we must recognize the old cliché: ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. Unless and until a third party gains sufficient strength to challenge the Republicans and Democrats, a feat that those two parties have made almost impossible, nothing will change.

More articles by:

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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