Monday, September 17, 2012

Identity Crisis Politics

The War on Women, Blacks, Muslims, and just about everyone else...

The push to see the United States as the Christian nation it never was...

The dispute over Obama's citizenship...  (And here I thought legitimacy disputes only occurred in hereditary monarchies.)

The primacy of identity over policy is the defining feature of this election.  It is a feature of all US elections, but this year the election is about identity.  This despite huge policy issues: unemployment, war, climate, and on.  And yet the country is having an identity crisis.  It is as though the public is trying to fix a leaky roof by undertaking psychotherapy, and all the while the roofer is busy stealing the family jewels.

Older white Americans seem to feel they've lost themselves in all the changes that have taken place since 1960, and they want the mythical past back.  Everyone else is glad of the changes, or at least was until the wealthy old white guys were allowed to return to abusing everyone else back in the 1980s.

And so we have a conservative black president and an election about identity.  As a progressive bird, it surprises me that the wealthy old white guys get so much support.  Yet it just may be that the identity issue is the one to deal with.  If it isn't resolved, and in favor of the whole public rather than just wealthy old white guys, policy is only going to get worse and worse. 

Meantime, the wealthy old white guys are robbing the rest of America blind.  I wish America would finish up with the identity crisis and get on with it already.

Breaking news: Romney may just have pushed the country a giant step on the path with his "47%" remark.

[Minor edits and rewrites within 24 hours of publication.]

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Worst Thing the Obama Administration Has Done?

(This is a collection of links about the response of the Islamic public to the vaccination scam the CIA ran as part of its assassination campaign against Usama bin Laden. I wrote them up for Ta-Nehisi Coates's blog, and decided they were worth repeating here. [Added:] these were flagged as offensive and not restored. Bah!)

Every time I think I'm getting to accept the Obama Administration, I'm reminded of something else awful it has done. My latest reminder was yesterday, when I read that Pakistan is deporting the non-Pakistani staff of Save the Children as probable CIA agents. As part of the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the CIA ran a fake vaccination campaign in Pakistan, vastly undercutting the already uncertain Pakistani trust in real vaccination campaigns. Recently, Pakistan ordered all foreign employees of the Save the Children foundation out of the country on the grounds that they had been suborned by the CIA. It is possibly just grandstanding. On the other hand, it is possibly true: Save the Children is not likely to have the kind of hiring process that would detect an agent undercover.

It made the papers.  Guardian story. AP story.

We also have Dr. Anthony Robbins, co-editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of Public Health Policy: editorial at JPHP and backgrounder at ScienceBlogs.

It's not the action of the Pakistani government that most disturbs me, it's the disruption of the already fragile trust of Western NGOs on the part of the public in Islamic states. People will die because of this. Polio could be eradicated in Pakistan if the Pakistani people trusted the aid workers, and what trust there was has been badly damaged.

David Wright, Save the Children Pakistan country director, quoted in an editorial from The News of Islamabad, Pakistan, "Our ability to continue this important work has been seriously undermined by CIA’s use of humanitarian activity as a cover for their intelligence gathering."

BBC article from before the deportation: "UN polio vaccine doctor injured in Karachi attack"

Al-Jazeera on Taliban opposition to the program.

One of the most discouraging things about this story is that the Administration and the CIA have made the Taliban's allegations true.

[Restored because the author found his guts:] If this leads to the failure to eradicate polio in Pakistan, and the ultimate failure to eradicate polio globally, it will be the worst thing the Obama administration has done. Even a sufficient delay might make it the worst.

As I said, every time I think I'm getting to accept the Obama Administration, I run across something like this.