Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Point of No Return: President Hillary and the Demise of the European Union

I feel decent this morning for the first time in more than a week. Stress and strain on the job has led me to abandon this page. I feel like I am back at an SEIU local where I worked ten years ago, which was the closest I have ever come to being a member of a cult. Everyone was fucking each other, lying to each other, drinking and drugging, calling in sick, etc. My current situation is not anywhere near as bad. But I am ten years older, and working a 12-hour day doesn't get any easier.

So I am entertaining the idea of mothballing Burdens. My horizon looks bleak: overtime, staff retreats, six-day work week after six-day work week. We'll see. I think I can manage one post a week.

Enough about me. What about the world in which we live? Yesterday's primary results solidified last week's consensus coming out of New York. It is going to be a Trump vs. Hillary race to the bottom. Trump swept five Eastern states -- Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Maryland -- in commanding fashion, and Hillary almost equaled his performance, losing only Roger Williams' colony.

The big takeaway from yesterday is a post this morning by Nate Silver, an avowed Trump denier: "It’s Trump’s Nomination To Lose. (Well, at least if he wins Indiana.)" With the Kasich-Cruz pact to derail Trump quickly disintegrating, even FiveThirtyEight thinks Trump's path to 1,237 is all but assured. For a moment I was swayed by a Van Jones interview I saw at the beginning of this month where he argued that the GOP was headed straight for a brokered convention because Trump had proven unable to win consistently more than 50% of the vote. Well, he has proven it repeatedly in April. And I think he will do very well in California. I was hoping for a battle royale at the Republican National Convention, maybe even an event where Trump would march his delegates out.

For the Democrats, I was hoping that Bernie could win New York and California and a few other states along the way and bring his children's crusade to the City of Brotherly love where another convention fight would be staged. Remember, it was the meltdown in Chicago in 1968 that brought about the McGovern reforms that led to McGovern's nomination in 1972 and Carter's nomination in 1976, and which superdelegates were created in 1984 to counteract. So convention meltdowns have a big historical impact.

Unfortunately it doesn't look like there will be any convention meltdowns. If anything happens, it will be the big unions backing Hillary (SEIU, for one) attempting to lure disaffected youth back into the corrupt Democratic Party by staging direct action type mobilizations against Trump, possibly even at the GOP convention in Cleveland. I hope youth are too shrewd to be appropriated by Hillary, but in this regard I am not too confident; after all, there was a push in March by MoveOn to mobilize against Trump.

What does a race to the bottom between Hillary and The Donald look like? It is hard to know how the deep the depths, but deep indeed I imagine they will be. A guy who works on the same floor of the building where I work came into the office last week and handed me a sheet he had printed out. It was from The New York Times, based on the "NYT 4/19/16" he scrawled on the bottom of the page. There is no byline. I will retype the key sentences:
Meanwhile, her [Hillary's] negative ratings have been rising and now outweigh her positives by 24 points. That makes her seen no more favorably than Cruz is. Her only salvation is Trump's net negative is minus 41.
Combine these high marks of disapproval for both front runners with the low voter turnout numbers from the 2014 midterm elections, which were so low you had to go all the way back to the total war mobilization of World War Two to find comparable figures, and we could see participation levels as poor as the 1920s. And while this is proof of a broad distrust of our political system, it does not represent the kind of revolution that is called for.

At this point it looks like Clinton will muddle through. Fear usually trumps hope. By the time November arrives, Trump will be so thoroughly demonized the Rubio-voting soccer mom crossover will more than make up for any hardhat crossover in the opposite direction, leaving the election to be decided by black and Latino turnout. All hail Hillary.

We will have to look for regime change elsewhere.

Though "four more years" yawns at us, I am convinced now more than ever (and not just because I am reading Elizabeth Kolbert's excellent The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History) that we are headed for some sort of collapse.

This page since its inception has been preoccupied with the fracturing of the current Pax Americana neoliberal paradigm. From the fiscal cliff, Cyprus, the coup in Kiev, sarin in Ghouta, ISIS in Anbar, Syriza's Greece, Afghanistan, the refugee crisis in Europe to World War Four in Syria the paradigm is quaking.

Europe is critical. The unipolar world of Pax Americana is dependent on a supine, fraudulently monolithic Europe. That party has ended. Obama's meek and exhausted goodbye junket to the continent drove the message of defeat home.

The ceasefire in Syria is over. In the new phase of fighting the U.S. alliance with Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra is more manifest than ever. The only thing keeping it from popular consciousness is a polite, conspiratorial elision by the mainstream media.

Renewed fighting in Syria and Iraq means a surge in refugees to Europe. Yemen is cued up to be even worse. All in time for the June 23 Brexit referendum. (Interestingly, in 1975, Year 1 of neoliberalism, the Brits voted by a supermajority to remain part of the European Community. It will be much closer this time.)

Even if the UK votes to stay in the EU, the continent will continue to fray because war in the Middle East is going to accelerate. The sheikhs of the Gulf are engaged in an arms buying bonanza, while the Saudis are in full tilt PR smokescreen mode. The panic is palpable. The captive USG is doing its part by sabotaging Obama's remaining legacy achievement, the nuclear deal with Iran. This can't end well. Hillary, more beholden to the neocons and the Saudis, will only make things worse.

And we haven't even mentioned the militarized Asia pivot or NATO's New Cold War with Russia, both of which were initiated absent public support. This is a "no future" horizon.

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