The United States is under attack.
It is not an attack with bombs or airplanes. No one has been killed and property has not been damaged. It is, however, an attack on the most valuable thing that we have, something over a million people have gladly given their lives in the past to protect – our democracy.
This is a highly coordinated and sustained attack by a foreign power. It is still ongoing, and appears to have gradually grown more sophisticated over a period of years. There is reason to believe that will continue unless it is stopped.
Denial of this attack and the perpetrators who we certainly know are carrying it out, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, is hindering our response to this attack and making our democracy more vulnerable. That this effort to thwart our defenses and distract the public’s attention away from the threat comes from the very top of our leadership can only be described as treason.
In 1981, America stood at a genuine crossroads of the Postwar era. It seemed as though everything had been floundering for nearly a decade. Watergate, oil price shocks, and inflation were eating away at the faith and the paychecks of American workers. Millions of them had entered the workforce as Baby Boomers came of age, only to find that working life was no longer a ticket to any kind of American Dream.
Into this rode a hero as if on horseback. The assault on runaway inflation had been orchestrated since 1979, but it was about to come to full fruition. No, that hero wasn’t Ronald Reagan, it was Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Interest rates rose to 21%, the highest the Fed has ever seen. It worked. Volcker would eventually be mythologized heavily for his role in killing inflation once and for all.
It’s an important story because inflation, the villain of the 1970s, is definitely back.
The trade war is definitely on, no matter how Wall Street wants to deny it. Serious investors have downplayed recent events as part of a grand strategy, a negotiating tool that will all work out in the end. The reality, that there isn’t really a good strategy in place here but simply petty tactics, has not sunk in yet, at least in America. But the rest of the world knows better.
For the purposes of this discussion, the European Union will be diminished to Germany. After all, this is the economic engine that powers the continent right now, and Merkel’s leadership is critical. Where is Germany going? The long and short of it, the strategic and the tactical, is to the east. This response is proof enough that there is no US strategy which makes any sense.
Whenever the United States fall into strife, quips and stories about the fall of Rome follow naturally. If Rome fell, why not the US? Indeed, it’s quite logical given that no empire in the history of the planet has ever been permanent. Nations with a long imperial heritage, particularly Egypt and China, were not only reconstituted from scratch several times they both have rejected imperial trappings today.
More to the point, the United States is not an Empire to start with.
There is a more interesting period of Roman history, however, which is when it transformed from a Republic to an Empire. It’s a topic shrouded in complex political machinations that become difficult to understand. But they are indeed worth knowing.
There isn’t any actual crisis in immigration. If that sentence surprises or infuriates, you’re probably paying far too much attention to the news. The situation which has the entire nation worked into a frenzy was entirely made up for political purposes.
It’s not exactly clear why, either. While Trump aid and Politischertacitischerführer Steven Miller thinks that opposing immigration is a huge winner for Trump, surveys show that Americans strongly favor immigration. It’s as if the nation knows in its guts that we are at or near full employment and there is indeed a net labor shortage. This furor might fire up the base and make sure they show up in November, but that is still a long way away
Nevermind all that. We have a crisis on our hands because for one dumb reason or another Trumplandia thought it would suit them. Let’s look at facts and see if there is something more calm and human that can and should be done.
There is no excuse for the current policy at the US border with Mexico. It was indeed changed by the current administration in April, regardless of how Trump tries do deny responsibility. His Attorney General and Homeland Security Secretary don’t run from it.
But while there is no excuse for this policy, it is important to note that it is not particularly different from the horrors that our immigration laws have inflicted for at least a generation, if not longer. It is indeed an attempt to fully enforce existing law, a series of laws never fully put into place because they do indeed violate basic human rights. Never enforced, that is, until now.
The current violations of decency and due process highlight a dance that the US has long had with human rights violations. When the music stops it is long past time for us to review not just this policy but every aspect of immigration and border control.
This piece is from 2011. Was I naive or prophetic?
According to author James Stewart, lying is a national crisis. This undermines “the ideals of fair play, integrity, and trust to which people of goodwill everywhere aspire,” according to the author, and he’s made a good career out of speaking on this topic. His book “Tangled Webs” is selling well.
But is lying worse than it ever has been, as Steward insists? I think so, but at a slightly different depth than he has plumbed.