Despite the aura of omnipotence most empires project, a look at their history should remind us that they are fragile organisms. So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly bad, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, 11 years for the Ottomans, 17 years for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, 22 years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003.
Future historians are likely to identify the Bush administration’s rash invasion of Iraq in that year as the start of America’s downfall. However, instead of the bloodshed that marked the end of so many past empires, with cities burning and civilians slaughtered, this twenty-first century imperial collapse could come relatively quietly through the invisible tendrils of economic collapse or cyberwarfare.
The liberal take on Jerry Brown so far seems to be more or less optimistic: Jerry Brown’s Budget Plan: A Progressive Shock Doctrine?
After seven years of Arnold Schwarzenegger imposing a right-wing shock doctrine on us – creating a crisis through bad management of the state’s budget, including a refusal to raise taxes during a boom, then using that crisis to push through radical solutions that the public would otherwise never have supported – Jerry Brown may be planning a shock doctrine of his own. But this time, it would be more progressive, and would be designed to produce better government instead of to destroy it.
Those of us in California also have some things to say about that “tax cut compromise:” When California Rejected A Bad Tax Deal
Over the last week, President Barack Obama’s deal on the tax cuts – where he caves in to right-wing hostage taking and agrees to deficit-exploding tax cuts for the rich in order to get a few more months of unemployment benefits – has gotten a lot of criticism from progressives, who correctly see it as a very bad deal.
Many of those critics are here in California. And that is fitting, because we have faced this situation before – and we made the correct choice, to reject a bad deal designed to promote right-wing goals and instead keep fighting for progressive solutions.
Although I dunno, we’ve made our share of BAD choices too, and are living painfully with those — which also makes us pretty qualified to comment on the federal plan.
This hits on something I’ve often noticed about leftist criticism of Obama (not that I think he’s above criticism by any means): What Progressives Don’t Understand About Obama
Progressives have been urging the president to “man up” in the face of the Republicans. Some want him to be like John Wayne. On horseback. Slapping people left and right.
One progressive commentator played an excerpt from a Harry Truman speech during which Truman screamed about the Republican Party to great applause. He recommended this style to Mr. Obama. If President Obama behaved that way, he’d be dismissed as an angry black militant with a deep hatred of white people.
There are many things Obama has failed to do as President, that is quite clear. But his deportment has been right on the money.
Ultimately, claiming that Mitchell is insane or deluded or a perverted sadist may all have the ring of truth to it–but it’s also true that a patriarchal religion gave him the entitlement to commit his crime. The practice of plural marriage is still in full flower in fundamentalist Mormon communities (and even on reality TV!), and girls as young as Smart are still chosen to be made into wives by spiritual leaders who, like Mitchell, claim to get their revelations directly from God. According to a CNN article, during Mitchell’s trial, “A professor from Brigham Young University testified that some of Mitchell’s ideas, which on the surface might seem delusional, are logical when considered in the cultural context of the beliefs of the groups with which Mitchell associated.”
I can’t quite decide what I think of this. It’s a sort of horrifying look at how online our lives (and deaths) can or have become: A Facebook story: A mother’s joy and a family’s sorrow.