Politics & economics - Mar 20
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American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips: Clear and Present Dangers
Alan Brinkley, NY Times Book Review
Four decades ago, Kevin Phillips, a young political strategist for the Republican Party, began work on what became a remarkable book. In writing "The Emerging Republican Majority" (published in 1969), he asked a very big question about American politics: How would the demographic and economic changes of postwar America shape the long-term future of the two major parties? His answer, startling at the time but now largely unquestioned, is that the movement of people and resources from the old Northern industrial states into the South and the West (an area he enduringly labeled the "Sun Belt") would produce a new and more conservative Republican majority that would dominate American politics for decades. Phillips viewed the changes he predicted with optimism. A stronger Republican Party, he believed, would restore stability and order to a society experiencing disorienting and at times violent change. Shortly before publishing his book, he joined the Nixon administration to help advance the changes he had foreseen.
Phillips has remained a prolific and important political commentator in the decades since, but he long ago abandoned his enthusiasm for the Republican coalition he helped to build. His latest book (his 13th) looks broadly and historically at the political world the conservative coalition has painstakingly constructed over the last several decades. No longer does he see Republican government as a source of stability and order. Instead, he presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness. (His final chapter is entitled "The Erring Republican Majority.") In an era of best-selling jeremiads on both sides of the political divide, "American Theocracy" may be the most alarming analysis of where we are and where we may be going to have appeared in many years. It is not without polemic, but unlike many of the more glib and strident political commentaries of recent years, it is extensively researched and for the most part frighteningly persuasive.
Although Phillips is scathingly critical of what he considers the dangerous policies of the Bush administration, he does not spend much time examining the ideas and behavior of the president and his advisers. Instead, he identifies three broad and related trends — none of them new to the Bush years but all of them, he believes, exacerbated by this administration's policies — that together threaten the future of the United States and the world. One is the role of oil in defining and, as Phillips sees it, distorting American foreign and domestic policy. The second is the ominous intrusion of radical Christianity into politics and government. And the third is the astonishing levels of debt — current and prospective — that both the government and the American people have been heedlessly accumulating. If there is a single, if implicit, theme running through the three linked essays that form this book, it is the failure of leaders to look beyond their own and the country's immediate ambitions and desires so as to plan prudently for a darkening future.
(19 March 2006)
In a case of another whistle-blowing conservative, as reported by The Guardian, earlier this month Sandra Day O'Connor, who retired a few weeks ago from the US supreme court warned of the possibility that America is sliding into a dictatorship. O'Connor is a Republican and a Reagan nominee. Regarded as the "swing vote" on the court, she swung the presidential election to George Bush in 2000. -AF
GM: 2005 Loss To Be $2 Billion Higher
General Motors Corp. late Thursday said its 2005 loss will be $2 billion steeper than it originally reported.
The news only adds to the automaker's woes as it struggles to right itself in the face of dwindling North American market share and soaring costs.
The automaker revised its reported loss for 2005 to $10.6 billion, or $18.69 a share, vs. the $8.6 billion, or $15.13 a share, it reported in January.
(16 March 2006)
The apparent slide towards bankruptcy steepens...
India thanks with oil pledge for uranium
The Statesman (India)
Describing India to be "desperately short of hydrocarbons", the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today said nuclear energy cooperation will be an important area for Indo-Russian ties demonstrated by the agreement to supply fuel for the Tarapur plant, even as he announced that India would aim to buy one billion barrels per day of oil from Russia.
The PM and the visiting Russian premier, Mr Mikhail Fradkov, today signed seven agreements which include two each for cooperation in the Russian GPS system, Glonass and banking. The two leaders had over one-and-a-half hours of discussions.
Russia has agreed to supply 60 metric tons of low enriched uranium under the "safety exception" clause of the Nuclear Suppliers' group guidelines. Both India and Russia had asserted that they were not violating NSG guidelines, while the USA had expressed reservation over the deal.
(17 March 2006)
As noted by reader BD, that should read "one MILLION barrels per day of oil from Russia." -AF
Dubai construction craze
"Surrealplaces", SkyscrapterPage Forum
About two dozen photos of the construction craze in Dubai. Hard to believe! -BA
(19 March 2006)