Tuesday, June 30, 2015

P5+1 Deadline + IMF Loan to Greece Comes Due + The New Left Has Won the Culture War, David Brooks Says So

There is a lot of news to consider this morning. For one, the P5+1 talks in Vienna arrive at their deadline today. They will be extended. A punch list of sticking points was published yesterday by eminent pro-USG scribes David Sanger and Michael Gordon, "Crucial Questions Remain as Iran Nuclear Talks Approach Deadline," that makes it seem like very long odds an agreement will be reached. I think the technical aspects of "breakout" capacity can be fudged. Obama and Kerry are not going to kill the deal over that. And I think Khamenei will be flexible about the timeline for the sanctions being lifted. But I do think the issues of inspections of Iranian military sites and access to Iranian scientists are going to be difficult to paper over. This is the neocon/Israeli ace in the hole. Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency are spies in the employ of sundry intelligence services. They feed information to hostile foreign governments who then use that information to sabotage and murder. If Khamenei were to accede to unfettered, intrusive "anytime, anywhere" inspections, Iran would be effectively a subject nation. So Khamenei will not agree to this. The question is whether some form of compromise on this issue can be hatched that Obama can sell to Congress. I am doubtful.

The newspaper is rife with reporting on Greece, more stories than at any time since Syriza won last January's election. Greece owes 1.6 billion euros to the IMF by the end of the day. Varoufakis says Greece is not going to make the payment. But talks are underway again. Officials for the institutions are talking a little nicer since Sunday and the implementation of capital controls on Greek banks by prime minister Tsipras.

I think the change in attitude is the realization by some in EU officialdom that the Greeks could very well vote No on Sunday. The vote will surely be close. But what a No vote has in its favor is that a Yes vote is a vote in favor of the status quo, something that Greeks know and have lived for the last several years -- interminable stressful negotiations with imperious creditors who are forever asking for more givebacks -- whereas a No vote, while potentially dire and catastrophic, has not been colored in. A No vote appears open; there is still some hope there.

David Brooks is odious. He exists professionally to rationalize the obscene inequality that is produced by neoliberalism. His recent column, "Fracking and the Franciscans," devoted to criticism of Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change was so tendentious it proved to me that Brooks, for all his facility quoting academic scholarship and his apparently earnest talk of faith, is at the end of the day nothing more than a hack for hire.

Ever since Obama rose to the top based on what is clearly a progressive majority in the United States, at the same time the Republicans have staked out a dominant position in the Congress based on a know-nothing, white supremacist ideology, Brooks has been hard pressed to gussy up contemporary electoral conservatism.

Race hatred, sexism, religious fundamentalism -- these are the pillars of popular conservatism -- and they are falling away. Marriage equality, Black Lives Matter, marijuana legalization, the collapse of religious affiliation all point to a tolerant, progressive, rational society, one first limned by the New Left in the 1960s.

To his credit, Brooks supports tearing Old Dixie down and driving a stake in the heart of cracker America ("The Robert E. Lee Problem"), the America that is synonymous with the modern GOP since Nixon's Southern Strategy.

Now, in the wake of last week's Supreme Court decision recognizing Gay marriage, Brooks ("The Next Culture War") flies the white flag of surrender, calling for the Religious Right to end its culture war:
These conservatives are enmeshed in a decades-long culture war that has been fought over issues arising from the sexual revolution. Most of the conservative commentators I’ve read over the past few days are resolved to keep fighting that war. 
I am to the left of the people I have been describing on almost all of these social issues. But I hope they regard me as a friend and admirer. And from that vantage point, I would just ask them to consider a change in course. 
Consider putting aside, in the current climate, the culture war oriented around the sexual revolution.
Put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations from any consideration of religion or belief. Put aside an effort that has been a communications disaster, reducing a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex. Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose. 
The New Left, for the time being, has won the culture war. But war is actually spreading and so too is inequality. The low-hanging fruit has been plucked. Now comes the hard part.

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