Democrats Win in Georgia — Now What?

Photo by Thomas Cizauskas

W.J. Astore

The Democrats have carried both Senate seats in Georgia, meaning the Senate is now effectively tied at 50-50, eliminating Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader and leaving it to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to be the Senate’s tiebreaking vote.

The question is: What will Democrats do with this (very weak) majority? Or, as Greg Laxer put it here, “BUT…do the Dems have sufficient internal discipline to pass any legislation remotely progressive or to seat a SCOTUS nominee deemed controversial?” Good question.

Of course, it’s not just about “internal discipline.” Joe Biden, a mealy-mouthed corporatist, is on the record as saying that nothing will fundamentally change under his administration. I don’t see him or Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer pushing for a progressive agenda. These “leaders” are DINOs, Democrats in name only, and it will be interesting to see if Biden & Co. even come through on their promise to elevate relief checks from $600 to $2000.

I’m glad Democrats won in Georgia, but not because I expect great things and transformative change from them now. Just look at what Obama/Biden produced in 2009 with a “supermajority” in Congress: a bailout for banks and corporations and Romneycare without a public option, later rebranded as Obamacare. Obama/Biden also saw the failed Afghan surge, the Libyan disaster, and a major escalation in drone strikes, among other warmongering acts.

So, why am I glad about Georgia? Because now Biden and Pelosi and Co. can’t blame Mitch McConnell for blocking all their “noble” efforts in the Senate. Now we’ll really see the priorities of Biden/Pelosi laid bare. And they both have very long and strong records of serving elite interests at the expense of regular people.

It’s good to see awful Republican candidates lose in Georgia; even better to see Mitch McConnell removed from his position of power and obstruction. Now what, Democrats? Care to help the poor while ending war? Or will you continue to serve the rich while making war?

These next two years will be interesting indeed. If Democrats don’t go big, they will go home, as in losing both houses of Congress in 2022. If past performance is indicative of future gains and losses, I’m not bullish on Biden/Pelosi producing big gains for Main Street USA. But I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

The Senate Trial of Donald Trump

Senate Impeachment Trial Of President Donald Trump Begins
Chief Justice John Roberts.  Ten years ago, he gave us Citizens United.

W.J. Astore

The Senate trial of Donald Trump is a colossal waste of time and energy.  Why?  The result is a foregone conclusion: Trump is not going to be removed from office.  Nevertheless, the mainstream media is obsessed with gavel-to-gavel coverage of what is mostly a non-event.

As my wife said to me yesterday, where is all this energy and outrage from Congress and the media about homeless people living in the streets?  So many of whom are suffering from mental and physical illnesses of various sorts?  Where is the attention to people who can’t afford to pay for their prescription drugs?  What about all the veterans committing suicide?  What about all the corruption that is systemic and endemic across Congress and the Executive branches?  Where’s the attention to that?

The presence of Chief Justice John Roberts in the Senate provides a salutary reminder that a decade ago, the Supreme Court issued its “Citizens United” decision that declared corporations are citizens and that their “speech” in the form of money in politics is protected.

That decision is yet another example of America’s legalized system of political corruption.  Why can’t we get Congress to change that?  Where’s the media coverage of electoral corruption?  The outrage about corporate money in politics?  There isn’t any, since the mainstream media is complicit in the corruption.

To repeat myself: Ten years ago this week, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are citizens.  Except for a few ultra-rich “citizens” like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, that meant corporations had (and have) superhero-like powers, but with none of the humility of Peter Parker (Spiderman), whose gentle Uncle Ben reminded him that, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Our superhero corporations just want the power, thank you very much, and our government and its three branches willingly bow down and serve them.

Where’s the trial for that offense against the republic?  Bang the gavel, John Roberts.

Bonus Lesson: Democrats!  Want to remove Trump from office?  Nominate a coherent and charismatic candidate for the presidency, have a compelling platform, and inspire people to get off their duffs and vote in November.

Election Result: More Military Escalations Are Coming

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James Madison warned that perpetual war is the worst enemy of personal liberty

W.J. Astore

So, Republicans now control the Senate as well as the House.  As we the people endure the forced march to 2016 and the next presidential election, our new political landscape is sure to produce more military escalations.

The reason is as obvious as it is sad.  De-escalation of military conflicts is defined, especially by Republicans, as “losing” whereas escalation is defined as “doing something,” as being “decisive,” even when decision is nowhere in sight.  Even when military action just makes matters worse.

Once again, as we approach 2016, the Republicans will bash the Democrats as appeaseniks.  And the Republicans will be right.  The Democrats are appeaseniks — to the national security state.

You can almost guarantee that the hawkish Hillary Clinton — doing her best imitation of Margaret Thatcher — will be the Democratic candidate.  Meanwhile, Republican candidates will run to the right of Attila the Hun as they blame Obama for having “lost” both Iraq and Afghanistan (even though both of those countries were never ours to “win”).  Dishonest (or disingenuous) the Republicans may be, but they know how to win elections via the Big Lie.

As Tom Engelhardt noted this week, the national security state has built a militarized escalation machine that will execute its function of perpetual war regardless of whom is sworn in as the next commander-in-chief.

As my wife said to me today, our country is in big trouble.  Yes, we are, because as James Madison pointed out, perpetual war is the enemy of democracy and freedom.

As for me, I’ll vote for any candidate who has the spine to stand up for an end to perpetual war.  Show me a candidate who’s willing to abandon fear-mongering about overseas threats while telling the truth about the threats we face right here at home from America’s power brokers and I’ll show you a candidate worthy of being elected.  Either that, or show me a candidate who’s so worried about those overseas threats that he or she takes up arms (I mean literally) in the trenches against the enemy, and I’ll show you a candidate who at least is not a hypocrite.

But I fear 2016 will be the year of Benghazi!  Benghazi! and who lost Iraq/Afghanistan/and similar countries we never “found” to begin with.

Did I mention my smarter wife said our country is in trouble?