Berlusconi, one of George Bush's most strident supporters, has lost a
watershed election, just like Spain's Bush-man José Maria Aznar did in
2004. New center-left Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi will likely
pull Italy's troops out of Iraq and orient his economic policy more
closely with Europe than with America.
In France, Jacques Chirac, though not a
formal member of GW's Iraqi invasion coalition, is still a conservative
sympathizer. An energetic alliance of French high school and college
students, resurgent labor unions and the politically savvy French middle
class successfully shut down the country with a powerful mix of national
strikes and street demonstrations. The French people literally rose up
and forced President Chirac to withdraw proposed legislation that would
have begun “Americanizing” France's work force by making young workers
more globally “competitive” (read: exploitable and disposable).
In Thailand, pro-business billionaire and Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra could not muster enough voters to validate his snap
elections, thus jeopardizing his political career and his plans for more
trade pacts with the United States.
The U.S.-favored PLO lost control of the Palestinian Authority to Hamas
while in Israel, with Ariel Sharon in a permanent coma, the Kadima party
barely won enough seats in the Knesset to create a ruling coalition.
On Air Strip One, even Tony Blair's government has distanced itself from
George's belligerency toward Iran, warning that it will not join with
Oceana in yet another preemptive military adventure against the Disputed
Even in America's 51st State, Iraq, the Crackpot Coalition's plan to
foment civil war has gone awry. The apparent plan was to increase Iraqi
oil production, stoke fratricidal conflict and draw down American troops
from the volatile cities into massively defended fortresses. These
hardened American enclaves, like Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, would be
relatively secure from violent Shi'a retaliation when Mr. Bush attacks
Iran. Instead, oil production has dropped, and as the hitherto compliant
Shi'a leadership have sensed the West's inevitable pulling out of the
rug from underneath their feet, they have become increasingly less
compliant. Thus do Iraq's disputatious factions force the occupiers to
patrol the land, thereby turning the tables on Bush and holding 130,000
American soldiers hostage for his good behavior toward Iran.
In the Caribbean and in South America, American hegemony has shivered to
splinters. Chile has sworn in its first socialist president since
Salvador Allende. Chavez protégé Ollanta Humala won first place in
Peru's run-off elections. Evo Morales, an indigenous cocoa farmer and
anti-globalization candidate, was elected President of Bolivia by a
clear majority. Buoyed by burgeoning oil prices -- thanks, in part, to
Mr. Bush's misadventures in the Middle East -- Venezuela's Hugo Chavez
is more popular than ever. Even in America's colony of Haiti, the
citizens elected Aristide's compatriot, Rene Preval, who, as
President-elect, soon visited Castro to reestablish long-severed
Meanwhile, back in the U.S.A., retired generals, like kung fu martial
arts masters, are throwing stars at Donald Rumsfeld and backing away
from the debacle in Iraq. Espionage trials are warming up that could
implicate special interest groups and Pentagon insiders. Super lobbyist
Jack Abramoff cops a plea, indicted and former Republican House Majority
Leader Tom DeLay resigns in disgrace, and George Bush asserts that he
never really knew either one of them, any more than he ever knew Kenneth
Lay of Enron. As Bush strives to wipe off his own fingerprints, he
proves that unswerving loyalty to the King can be risky. As Scooter
Libby and ex-ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame found out,
King George is quick to throw others to the wolves in order to save his
own skin. The King's knights, ministers and squires must be nervously
watching the Crackpot in Chief, for while he sacrifices others to save
himself, Bush is dissolving the glue of loyalty that binds him and his
The Coalition of the Crackpots is cracking.
The biggest fissure in Bush's domestic Crackpot Coalition opened up when
House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill
Frist tried to ram through an immigration bill that would have
criminalized millions of undocumented workers in the U.S. and
constructed an Israeli style Berlin Wall along the Mexican-US border. In
one fell swoop, Hastert and Frist totally unwound Karl Rove's long-term
scheme to draw Latinos and Latinas into the Republican Party.
Moreover, the hugely successful, quickly mobilized street actions
against the immigration bill drove a wedge between certain Evangelical
Republicans who want to toss every undocumented worker into prison and
otherwise socially conservative Catholic leaders who want to prevent
Evangelicals from poaching from the “true faith.” The immigration bill
also divided socially conservative law-and-order types from the
Republican industrial, agribusiness and services sectors that profit
from the exploitation of undocumented laborers.
Worst of all for the Crackpot Coalition, the success of the
immigration-rights movement in the United States demonstrated three
proofs: 1) that political parties are not monoliths -- they are plasmas
of disparate interests that can separate as easily as they can coalesce
2) that, like in France, a mass and sustained popular action
is possible and can be powerful, and 3) that to succeed, the
mass and sustained popular action must inflict, or threaten to inflict,
massive and sustained economic pain. Like kids in grade school,
all the other “movements” in the United States should have learned this
lesson by watching their Latin brothers and sisters show them how it's
Lest Democrats feel too smug about all the fracture lines appearing in
the conservative edifice, we cannot forget that they, too, have been
willing participants in Bush's Coalition of the Crackpots. The crackpot
Democratic leadership, including several who would be president, have
backed Bush on every post-9.11 gambit from the War Powers Resolution to
the Patriot Act to the pending consolidation of the Internet in the
hands of the gluttonous telecommunications industry.
Thus, similar fault lines are opening up in the Democratic Party. The
labor unions, timidly yoked to the fortunes of Big Business, do the
dirty work for their masters, urging upon their depleted membership
strike-free work, reduced wages and diminished benefits for the sake of
preserving corporate profits. Labor, meanwhile, is as cautious about
creating a guest worker program for non-residents who might further
reduce union pay-scales as Big Business, for the same reason, is keen to
bring the guest workers on. The mainstream Democratic Party
schizophrenically wants to be both the party of Labor and of Big
Business... and to take campaign money from both.
Within the sclerotic Democratic party, candidates finally are rising to
challenge the worst of the inner circle. Ned Lamont, a peace activist,
is making a hard run at Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. Lieberman,
flying his true flag as a closet Republican, has threatened to run for
the Senate as an “independent”, thus throwing the senate seat to the
Republicans, should Mr. Lamont successfully overthrow Lieberman in the
Three thousand miles away on the left coast, anti-war candidate Mark
Wilson will challenge from within the Democratic Party the Washington
State senatorial birthright of Maria Cantwell, a pro-business, elitist
politician who generally loves the environment but dislikes people.
Equally interesting, and much more dangerous to the same-old hackneyed
politics of the Democratic mainstream is the Green Party challenge to
Senator Cantwell mounted by former Black Panther Aaron Dixon. Dixon's
rousing kick-off campaign rally drew a large crowd of Black, White and
Brown highly disaffected left-leaning voters who share disdain for both
the Republican and the Democratic Parties. This was not a placid Green
Party convention of polite counter-culturists, but a convocation of
angry energy from many strata of society that could, finally, one day,
seed a real alternative politics.
Thus, while the Coalition of the Crackpots has not yet crumbled, some
deep cracks are showing.
Cracks tend to become bigger over time. Cracks beget other cracks.
Things grow in the cracks, take root and push them wide open over time.
Sometimes temples collapse, mountaintops
slide down, and even cracked pots fall apart and turn to dust.
can be reached at: Zbig@ersarts.com.
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