Around the Internets

Monday edition — delayed, not deferred (after the jump):

Snap back to reality: Former Reaganite ideologue and conservative movement icon Bruce Bartlett on the right-wing fallout following his W-induced Road to Damascus moment — and the final straw for true believers (h/t):

The final line for me to cross in complete alienation from the right was my recognition that Obama is not a leftist. In fact, he’s barely a liberal—and only because the political spectrum has moved so far to the right that moderate Republicans from the past are now considered hardcore leftists by right-wing standards today. Viewed in historical context, I see Obama as actually being on the center-right.

At this point, I lost every last friend I had on the right. Some have been known to pass me in silence at the supermarket or even to cross the street when they see me coming. People who were as close to me as brothers and sisters have disowned me.

And red ponies for all: Adam Hefty puts 2012 3rd party numbers in historical context, believing that the demographic dynamics of the latest election cycle may create an opportunity for the USian socialist left:

The 2012 election seems to have dealt a blow to reaction on several fronts, though Obama’s promised “Grand Bargain” suggests that the Democrats will continue their approximately 1970s-present tradition of triangulating away their political capital instead of using it to build a governing consensus. Nevertheless,  suggestions that Republican reliance on a shrinking older, white male demographic might cause them to go the way of the Whigs are intriguing. Chances are better than not that they will figure out a way to rebrand themselves, and that as early as 2014 we’ll see a wave of Latino Republican standard-bearers, along with a few Black and Asian candidates and more and more women, articulating some modernized version of the GOP maybe along the lines of a more plebeian version of the pre-2001 George Bushes. Nevertheless both a Republican collapse and an increasing level of two-party “transformism” seem within the realm of possibility, at which point the left’s ability to articulate something could become more important.

Such a transformation would probably not happen in one or two election cycles, though it’s impossible to predict idiosyncratic political personalities and ever sharpening economic crises. In my view, what we should be aiming for would be a series of results that would look like the Socialist Party’s from 1900-1920, possibly presaging a leap into major party status. This sounds like a modest task but it is in fact immense, since socialism from 1900-1920 was an idea that captivated a great deal of excitement, reflected however diffusely in these results. In those years the US labor movement was combative and experimental, led by the IWW; revolution was on the agenda around the world; socialism had a cultural milieu, building on the legacy of populism; and the world got embroiled in a terribly unpopular, grisly, draining world war. The left today is still mostly mired in a post-1989 inability to project the new world we insist is possible, as opposed to rejecting the neoliberal consensus and making pleas for a different kind of public space. Furthermore, even the better vehicles we have for the electoral aspect of such a project are in relative disarray.

Third parties are largely secondary to a revival of some kind of democratic, worker-driven labor movement and either sustained mass movements or an intensification of episodic struggles, and presidential races are probably even more secondary in some ways to local campaigns that could be winnable short-term, building the base for a new historic bloc. They may only be important as a kind of superstructural barometer of how we’re doing, or they may provide a space for making propagandistic inroads.

“FEMA said ‘no’ because we’re undocumented”: NPR looks at the plight of undocumented immigrants dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:

“I think the people that are hit the hardest by all of this are the ones that aren’t connected to any social service agencies,” [immigration lawyer Lauren] Burke says. “They’re too afraid to answer the door when someone comes by with supplies; they’re the ones who aren’t connected to an organization; and they’re the ones who we’re not hearing from.”

Rosa Maria Ramirez from Mexico was one of those people. The 53-year-old says she hasn’t been to any relief centers or food distribution sites since the storm slammed her house on Staten Island, simply because she wasn’t aware of them.

“We need help,” she says in Spanish. “Not that much. We ask just for a little … only enough to help us rent a house.”

The gray exterior of her house resembles any standing home, but it’s crumbling on the inside. Ramirez cleans houses, and her son, who lives with her, works in a bakery close by. Because they’re undocumented, they don’t qualify for FEMA financial disaster assistance.

Breaking the cycle through analogy? CFR president Richard Haass says Israel should look to Northern Ireland as a model when it comes to negotiating with Palestinian interests:

Hamas is in competition with the PA that rules over the West Bank for who represents all Palestinians. Hamas enjoys an advantage, though: its agenda of political Islam much better captures the zeitgeist in Egypt and throughout the region, whereas those ruling the West Bank, including many former associates of Yassir Arafat, are widely seen as in the image of Arab strongmen who have been removed from power.

But Hamas only benefits from this comparison if it fully embraces political Islam as a means and not just an end. Distancing itself from armed aggression will not deliver a viable Palestinian state.

Israel needs to put Hamas to the test. It can do this by putting forward the outlines of a fair and comprehensive settlement and a reasonable path for getting there. The US should work closely with Israel in framing this proposal. Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, should use the rest of her time in the region to urge this course. Her goal should be to stimulate a debate in the Arab and Palestinian worlds that would press Hamas to change its ways or risk being caught between those who are even more radical and those prepared to compromise.

This was the dynamic created in Belfast. In the end, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness – the leaders of Northern Ireland’s Hamas equivalent – met the British challenge. They put down their arms, entered the political process and reached agreement with those they had fought for decades. Leaders of both communities deserve credit – but no more than the British, Irish and US governments that created a context for diplomacy.

Exit music:

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"I don't fuck much with the past but I fuck plenty with the future."

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Great links, Mattt. I’ve been suggesting the NI model for the Middle East since I started blogging in 2004, it was one of my very first posts, so it’s fun to see the VSP’s at CFR finally catch up. The post from Hefty sounds kinda familiar too 🙂

    As for the poor buggers who can’t get assistance because they’re undocumented – that kind of inhumanity simply to keep some politicians throwing red meat to their followers happy just makes my blood boil. Whatever happened to the right-libertarian strand in US conservatism that used to say nationalities and borders shouldn’t matter? Did it entirely die off after 9/11? And wtf happened to Democrats that they’re ok with this in exchange for a few swing votes?

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