Forget Tea Party rhetoric – pork barrel politics is back … When the good people of South Dakota voted last month to send Republican Kristi Noem (left) to Congress, they probably believed that she would give no quarter to the lobbyists and special interest groups who enjoyed, as she put it, "throwing money at the feet of a member of Congress." But since she defeated Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (in part by making an issue of Herseth Sandlin's marriage to a lobbyist), Noem has hired her new chief of staff from . . . a lobbying firm! And on Tuesday afternoon, she was the guest of honor at a "Meet & Greet" with Washington high-rollers at the powerhouse lobbying firm Barbour Griffiths Rogers … It was probably inevitable that the Tea Party activists would be betrayed, but the speed with which congressional Republicans have reverted to business-as-usual has been impressive. – Slate
Dominant Social Theme: Republicans are ineffably corrupt.
Free-Market Analysis: Change may come to America – and even Europe – via the ballot box, but it’s not going to be easy and it may even be fairly messy. Here’s a question: With the American electorate absolutely punishing the Democrats and their big-spending ways, why was Congress last night on the verge of passing yet ANOTHER trillion-dollar plus spending package? The Democrats lost 60 seats in the House to the Republicans, and you would think both parties would have gotten the message …
We had to write “last night” above, because even as this article was being composed, Senate Democrats pulled the US$1 trillion spending bill off the floor. It wasn’t an attack of modesty however, so much as Republican wavering. Here’s how Politico reported on it:
The decision Thursday night sweeps away months of bipartisan work by the Senate Appropriations Committee which had crafted the $1.1 trillion bill to meet spending targets embraced by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R—Ky.) himself prior to the elections. McConnell, embarrassed by reports on his own earmarks in the omnibus, went to the Senate floor Thursday to propose a one page, “clean” two month extension of the current stop gap funding resolution that has kept the government funded since Oct. 1.
And as if caught with their hands in the cookie jar, he and other top Republicans vowed to do everything in their powers to kill the omnibus to square themselves with their tea party backers. Even the typically social Thursday Group lunch among Republicans was punctuated by sharp exchanges, and hours later, an unsuspecting and still hopeful Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye proved prophetic in a hallway interview.
“As of this morning, we had enough,” the Hawaii Democrat told two reporters. …. Democrats have only themselves to blame for failing to pass any of the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund the day-to-day operations of the government. At the same time, Republicans contributed mightily to this failure and are going through their own culture war — torn between the Senate’s old-bull pork-barrel ways and the more temperate fiscal gospel of their new tea party allies.
The Republicans are “torn?” Didn’t McConnell understand where the country stood from the recent elections? His party was the one who benefitted after all, but he does not seem to have internalized the message. His speech, renouncing the spending bill, amounted to a Claude Rains “Casablanca” moment, according to Politico: “the French police captain [was] ‘shocked, shocked’ at gambling in Rick’s Café.” Here’s what McConnel actually said: “It’s unbelievable, really. They want us to ram this gigantic, trillion-dollar bill through Congress — and they’re using the Christmas break as an inducement to get us to vote for it.”
The Bell has been fairly clear about the way we think Western politics are going to play out over the next few years. We believe the truth-telling of the Internet has spawned an electoral constituency that will become increasingly radicalized. We predicted long ago the riots in Europe as well as the reasons for them, which we called the beginning of a “class war.” In the US, we’ve pointed out that while the powers-that-be have co-opted the Tea Party movement for the time being, that may not last. The Internet, we often suggest, is a process not an episode.
What that means is that the sociopolitical evolution that the Internet is responsible for generating is only going to deepen over time. The mainstream press, of course, has not caught onto this – even now! The coverage in the US and Europe is no different than it has ever been. Where the Bell provides readers a narrative – agree with it or not – the mainstream press is still reporting on events disparately. Is there a Tea Party movement in the US? It’s a product of dissatisfaction with Obama (who happens to be black) and general hard times. Are there protests in Europe? They’re a product of the economic downturn and robust austerity measures. Besides, Europeans are always striking and protesting.
We see it differently. There is an Anglo-American axis, we believe, a power elite that is determined to create global governance by using dominant social themes – fear-based promotions – as a way to push the middle class toward giving up power and wealth to internationalist institutions. As the Internet continues to expose these promotions, the tension between elite aims and those of the larger masses of peoples grows more obvious. The narrative of the 21st century then, will be one created by the collision of the Internet with elite goals and methodologies. For more on this, read Anthony Wile’s High Alert – the book which foretold much of what is happening today between the power elite and ‘Net based forces and even developed specific Bell terminologies like “Dominant Social Theme” among others.
Of course there are plenty who don’t believe this. The argument is that the elite can shut down the Internet any time it wishes. We do not believe it is so simple. Even the Chinese – who have put the most resources into controlling the Internet – are having trouble maintaining censorship. We would argue that just as in America, if and when the economy sours in China, the citizenry will have little difficulty using the Internet to gain additional, non-government approved information.
Having made the above points, we will again caution that if one looks at the evolution of polity over the past few years in America, there is indeed a pattern. After the 2008 elections, libertarian Congressman Ron Paul was written off as fading force who would lose relevance now that his campaign was over. His anti-Federal Reserve stance and his anti-foreign intervention perspectives were widely mocked. But what about today? Ron Paul is about to take over chairmanship of the Monetary Policy Committee in the House, which will put him in the position, in a sense, of supervising the Fed.
What about Ron Paul’s perspective that the US ought to cut back considerably on its 700 overseas military bases and generally on its foreign entanglements and wars? Here’s how Politico reported on the demise of the US$1 trillion budget insofar as it affected military expenditures: “Two Cabinet departments most impacted are Defense and State. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged her former Senate colleagues to find compromise on the bill. ‘We need these resources now more than ever to support national security priorities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where we are helping secure gains made by our military and preventing the spread of violent extremism,’ Clinton said. ‘Our budget is being used to help stabilize the global economy, combat extreme poverty, demolish transnational criminal networks, stop global health pandemics and address the threat of climate change.’
Ms. Clinton’s plea made little difference. The US$1 trillion package is off the table. When the Republicans return after the holidays, the budget package will likely be subject to considerable slimming. Now the Republicans, more than the Democrats, are pro-military and tend to support the American military-industrial complex. But we’ve made the point that as the slow-motion collapse of the US economy continues, the money to pursue wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran simply may run out. Military expenditures (including domestic veteran programs) now compose some 50 percent of overall federal expenditures at a time when the US is under extraordinary fiscal pressure.
The US has long acted as the enforcement of the Anglo-American power elite, but we believe over time that could be changing. The Internet itself, which has charted the destructiveness of US serial warfare in the Middle East, when combined with economic hard times may put an end to the Pentagon’s business as usual approach. Just as importantly, the senior members of the Republican party itself, may actually have to become far more libertarian and free-market oriented if they wish to keep in favor with an increasingly radicalized base. The combination of military economies-of-scale and small-government libertarianism may actually begin to bring America back toward the agrarian republican vision of Thomas Jefferson, as opposed to the statist triumphalism of Alexander Hamilton.