While the two major parties plot strategy for the next battle in the federal debt-reduction war, another war rages among economists over the question, “Is debt really the federal government’s biggest problem?” Some insist that unless Washington cuts spending substantially to reduce the debt quickly, we are headed for disaster. Others insist with equal fervor that growth is the number one priority: Aggressive pro-growth policies will reduce the debt in the long run with far less pain.
If the pro-growth economists could gain public support they would give liberal Democrats a powerful weapon to resist the Republican’s budget-slashing ax. But the pro-growth faction makes little headway in the public arena because the political wind is blowing so strongly against it. Why should the wind blow that way?
I saw Zero Dark Thirty a few weeks ago and then consumed the whole first season of “Homeland.” Don’t tell me what happens in season two. I love the suspense.
I also love those brave (fictional) CIA analysts, Maya and Carrie. They see a huge danger ahead that everyone else is blind to, and they insist on crying out a warning, regardless of the risk — just like the biblical prophets. What’s not to love?
In fact they’ve inspired me to cry out a warning of my own. It’s not the threat of “another terrorist attack,” but the threat of America being seized once again by “war on terror” fever. I know that seems crazy, because hardly anybody worries seriously about the “terrorist” threat any more. In the last year, when pollsters asked about the single most important issue facing the nation, they usually didn’t even list “terrorism” as an option. When they did, it consistently showed up at the bottom of the list.
But Zero Dark Thirty and “Homeland” reminded me that one sector of the American populace ranks “terrorism” right up at the top, way above any other national concern, and obsesses about the “threat” night and day.
by: Ira Chernus on February 14th, 2013 | Comments Off
In our home the State of the Union address was not followed by the Republican reply. We skipped Marco Rubio’s rebuttal in favor of watching a DVD of old “Homeland” episodes. We’re finally catching up on the first season of the “CIA versus terrorists” drama that everyone else has been watching and raving about for the past two years.
The incongruity of watching the SOTU and “Homeland” in the same evening was a stark reminder of how much has changed in America in just a few years. “Homeland” would have made a wholly congruous nightcap to any SOTU speech by George W. Bush.
That’s not to say Obama’s “war on terror” policies are very different from W.’s. The depressing similarities are all too obvious and well known. But the tone of American life has changed noticeably now that we have a “hope and change” president instead of a “war president.” And that does make a difference. In the long run it could make more difference than we now suspect.
“Homeland” takes us back to the dramatic world that W. invited us into: a world where evildoers lurk unseen beneath the surface of American life, a life that is constantly (if sometimes only slightly) on edge, because no one knows for sure where and when sudden death may strike again, as it did on September 11, 2001. W. fit easily as an actor in that world. Indeed he gave himself a leading role in the drama.