As Dow Jones drops to near 8000 today, losing around 30% of its value since the crisis began, John McCain continues to run against Bill Ayers, a "weather man" of four decades ago and Sarah Palin prepares to drop a Hockey puck in Philadelphia.
There is also a new cop series on TV, Life on Mars, in which an NYPD cop from 2008 is transported back to 1973. I looked at it briefly yesterday, in between my sadly watching the Dodgers lose to the Phillies and happily watching McCain and his "angry" supporters make
complete fools of themselves as they denounced Obama for associating with Ayers and made audience participation Dr. Strangelove tirades against Obama, Pelosi, and the "socialist" government that will come to power in 2009 if Obama is not stopped.
Maybe all of these people should go back to 1973 and live their lives on Mars. In the series (I am not recommending it, since it didn't strike me as that well done) the cops were brutal, had no respect for civil liberties, and were pretty much all white. There was a female cop trying not to make waves. And Richard Nixon's picture was on the wall.
Even though Palin was nine years old at the time, she would probably feel comfortable in 1973. In fact, she might feel comfortable being nine years old. There were hippies and stereotypical radicals wandering around a slummy New York and for McCain's Republican "base," that is still the America that is threatening them, the America their Hollywood hero-leader Ronald Reagan, saved them from, now on the march again.
This Republican "base" has as much to do with serious politics, even conservative politics, as Al Qaeda has to do with even conservative Islam. To paraphrase a progressive Muslim speaker in Britain responding to such ultrarightists, what they are calling religion he calls mental illness. And those who are responding to the greatest stock market banking crisis since the depression with denunciations of "Barack Hussein Obama," gibberish about his being too weak to last a week in service academies, hysterical irrelevancies about Bill Ayers, are substituting psychopathology for political analysis, the kind of psychopathology that in many countries separates those who are regarded as conservatives from those who are regarded as fascists.
If that is McCain's base, it is a real threat to American security, American freedom as understood under the bill of rights, and what used to be called across the political spectrum, the American Standard of Living. In its ignorance and its chauvinism, it hasn't the foggiest notion about what patriotism really is, much less humanism, reason, or life on earth in an advanced industrial society.
McCain and Palin are completely irrelevant to this crisis and to American politics. Their supporters are, metaphorically not literally, like German Nazis in late 1944, thrashing outbecause they are losing the war, because their racist militarist ideology has put them in a situation where they have no way out except to make themselves into "heroes" by re-asserting that ideology, intensifying their war crimes, and in the process taking millions of their fellow Germans down with them. The only serious question the American electorate and people face today is this: will we follow the right Republicans blindly, permit them to regain political power, and go down with them in economic collapse.
We can win this political battle by voting the Republicans out of office on every level, making it clear that the Nixon-Reagan-Bush politics of division and hate have now boomeranged against their practitioners.
There are many things that can and should be done to contain the economic crisis. Repeal of much of the U.S. deregulation, international action to regulate "derivatives," investigate and
control hedge funds, even (this is my historian's suggestion) taking a leaf from Franklin Roosevelt's 1933 book by declaring a stock market "holiday," closing the world's major markets until there can be policies to create some stability. But all of that is irrelevant to the Bush administration and the McCain campaign, which is why it is irrelevant to the crisis we face today and we it must be decisively defeated if we are to survive that crisis.