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Election Race Dialogue: Critique One
In recent comments in blogging venues, I have taken pains to offer harsh criticism both of the Democrats in Congress and of the leading Democratic candidates for President. Responding to a post at BlondeSense about the recent downward-trending volatility in the stock market
, in part I offered elements of the opus of what will now be a continuing, unapologetically harsh assessment of the policies being offered by Democratic candidates:
It isn't time to panic. Remember the old saying: It's always darkest just before it's pitch black.
In about three years, these will be the Good Ol' Days. Actually, it'll be about four, and the Democrat who's President will get blamed for the mess that was created by this irresponsible Bush Administration because few people have the basic math and forensic skills to understand how the current Administrationeven as it was running nose-bleed budget deficits financed by Chinese Communist mercantilistswas backing into the out years major obligations that would have required years of pre-planning and responsible tax policies the Bush incompetents' paymasters would never have allowed.
So what we have is this:
Maybe we'll have a sunny-side-up John Edwards talking about "hope" as all Hell breaks loose.
Maybe we'll have Barack Obama talking about his humble, filthy rich upbringing to see us through.
Maybe we'll have Hillary Clinton in her award-winning role as the Neo-Con in Pumps giving us another round of jackboots-solve-everything.
Or maybe we'll have Al Gore saying, "It's global warming that'll flood us all back to Waterworld if everyone doesn't start living simple like I spend millions of dollars, myself, doing."
Then again, if a Republican gets elected, he'll find a way to blame the Democrats, the secular humanists, the evolutionists, the gays, the feminists, and disco for the mess his predecessor and intellectual equal created.
My patience has evidently worn thin. The economy is in grave peril. Even former Bush Administration official Douglas Holtz-Eakin is saying
we face a looming fiscal crisis largely the result of an inattentive White House obsessed with throwing uncontrolled largess at the Pentagon with no thought of fiscal control over the balance between tax revenues and federal expenditures.
The Democrats in Congress have shown no ability to stop the President's taxation policies and spending priorities, much less put an end to his utter contempt for the constitutional right of Congress to demand sworn testimony from his advisers. The runaway freight train of economic crisis is still on course, and the 110th Congress cannot even force low-level White House officials to testify fully, truthfully, and under oath about side streams of political fights.
That is a grim sign for any hope of averting full-blown domestic economic catastrophe; and yet, not only are the Democrats in Congress
content to let this Administration burn itself out, the Democratic candidates for President
are offering nothing that could even come close to a comprehensive solution to what's coming. Populist rhetoric about soaking the rich for taxes is all well and fine, but even the most draconian steepening of the progressive tax rate structure would do little good, if any, at this point. We cannot reel back the clock to the beginning of this disaster and have any hope that now rectifying bad tax policy instituted over the past five-plus years will materially fix much of anything. It won't. That's like shooting a man and then, five years later, extracting the bullets, expecting him to get up and dance a jig: if he's still alive, he's already adapted to the bullets in him, and pulling them out isn't going to repair five years of damage they've done rattling around in his body. Serious talkthe kind that involves numbers, projections, and unmitigated honestyabout a return to fiscal responsibility would be nice, but the Democratic Presidential candidates cannot muster even that. Instead, we hear things like John Edwards' assertion, parsed in the Washington Post
, that, "[I]t is more important to invest in universal health care and lifting people out of poverty than to reduce the budget deficit."
We are in the last throes of a Presidency run by men and women who believed they could defy the financial equivalent of the law of gravity, and here we have a man wanting to be President who similarly believes that wishing really, really hard will make the freight train bearing down on us decide of its basically good nature that people with wonderfully humane ideas don't deserve to get pancaked like so many fiscally reckless worms. Irresponsibility is no more charming and no less catastrophic when educated, liberal Democrats answer its siren song than when willfully ignorant, Right-wing Republicans do so.
What little hope there is of solving the multi-pronged pitchfork of economic disaster will not come from more out-of-control spending unless concomitant and multiplicative budget cuts are made; and that's going to hurt like Hell. No, we're not going to somehow free up hundreds of billions of dollars by ending the American-Iraqi War, and that's because we're not
going to end the American-Iraqi War, not for a long time, in part because even the congressional Democrats don't want to end it; and even when we finally find a decent exit from that bloody abomination, we'll be spending billions and billions of dollars mopping up the floors of the Middle East and Asia Minor for years afterward. Pretending that epilogue is optional is like pretending we're going to become international isolationists in the world of the 21st Century where we have global predatory competitors like China, Russia, the European Union, and a bevy of little wannabes laying out their plans to command resource centers, shipping routes, and economic/military alliance structures. If we don't lean forward into that gameand do so in ways that completely eluded the butch-takes-all methods of Neo-Conservatismwe're going to find ourselves not just in a deep, long-lasting economic drought, but instead in a virtually bottomless, near-permanent economic desert of continental strangulation.
Comity on the campaign trail is for the weak, and none of the candidates should be surprised as the level of acrimony rises. Unfortunately, instead of forcing one another to face hard questions about domestic issues, and instead of eating each other alive for prescribing fantasy blends of continued fiscal recklessness, the candidates virtually hold hands and sing Kumbaya
on health care, tax policy, and anti-poverty programs. The only time the gloves are coming off is when the likes of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama pound each other over foreign policy
: who's the more naïve? who's more worldly? who's more butch when it comes to bombing terrorists? Without so much as a meaningful hint of recognition of how deep, complicated, and multi-faceted the mess is that the neo-cons have created, Clinton and Obama engage at the level of subtlety and nuanced understanding in a fight over the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Nukes
, for Heaven's sake.
In comments to another article at BlondeSense
about the opium trade in Afghanistan, a subject I addressed in a June 26 article
here at The Dark Wraith Forums, I crafted a portal to include the Democrats in a broadbased condemnation of the debacle that has been American foreign policy over the past six-and-a-half years:
...Here we have yet another fine mess this Administration has created because 1) it attacked a tactically and strategically worthless pile of dirt, and 2) in so doing, it turned that tactically and strategically useless pile of dirt into a quagmire soaked in the blood-stained hubris of American neo-conservative stupidity yet again walking the Earth on stilts.
But, wait, there's more: unlike Iraq, which is producing a regional conflagration-in-the-making, Afghanistan is proving itself to be more than just the land of undefeatable foes and tribal men for whom pederasty is ancient cultural custom: Afghanistan, with this drug trade, is turning into a global problem far beyond the borders of its miserable landscape.
And while the fine but perhaps naïve Barack Obama might believe there's a place for the use of nuclear weapons in modern warfare, and while it might seem that Afghanistan qualifies as the most desirable place on Earth to plant one and let God try Creation 2.0 in the crater we make with a multi-megaton stool-softener, I would encourage readers to contemplate this: who, exactly, is it that benefits from opium trade on this scale and in a war zone?
Naw, we're surely not going to do anything to put an end to what's already, just since our invasion, turned from the Land Where Toilet Bowls and Bathroom Tissue Are Unknown into the Smack Capitol of the World.
We'll just pass more laws in this country throwing our own dealers and users in the slammer forever. That's what we'll do, by golly, and that'll take care of the problem while our soldiers continue to die in a Hell-hole that's not even the country harboring and feeding the branch of al-Qa'ida we need to stay at war with for a few more decades.
Jeez, if we really did neutralize al-Qa'ida (the wacko globe-trotting wing in, oh, say, Pakistan) we wouldn't need to pass all the laws letting creepy weirdo Feds snoop in on everything American citizens do.
And if we didn't need to pass all those privacy-wrecking laws, what good would the Democrats be, anymore?
And to clarify and extend my choice of Barack Obama as the exemplary Democratic target of my criticism, I followed on with this comment:
Other than his wealth, which is enough for me to view his Presidential aspirations with a jaundiced eye, I have fewer attack points on Mr. Obama than I do on most of the other Democratic candidates. That does not mean I will eventually endorse him; I probably won't. [I set forth my personal condition for endorsing a candidate for President in my article, "The Clear and Compelling Case for a Truth Commission."]
The side-swipe at Mr. Obama was a hyperbolic reference to his vacillation on the matter of using nuclear weapons: first, he seemed to rule them out; then, when Herr Hillary called him "naïve" for doing so, he suddenly turned mealy-mouthed and claimed that there had "been no discussion of nuclear weapons," which means he was whimpering that he couldn't have ruled out their use because they hadn't been included in the political dialogue in which he was engaging.
That's the kind of talk that worries me. A President cannot be weak-kneed when it comes to the use of force: he or she needs to have a decision path; if it's complicated, then say so. Don't simplify matters and then, when some opportunist hops your bones, cry about how you hadn't been given a chance to engage in qualifiers on your original statement...
Criticizing Mr. Obama or any other candidate who might actually beor, at least, eventually becomea fine President is to the end of attempting to focus a particular and, in this case, almost trivial argument to get it over with. A person who aspires to be President should not allow the issue of tactical nuclear weapons usage to be a place where some opponent can put him on the ropes and beat him into looking like a dissembling twit, and that's exactly what Hillary Clinton did to Barack Obama with the nuclear weapons issue. She's found one of his glass jaws, and she's going to hit it again and again unless he resolutely deals with the issue and then moves on.
I offered Mr. Obama this response to the question, "Would you rule out the use of nuclear weapons?"
"What do you mean, 'Would I rule out the use of nuclear weapons?'
"Perhaps some of my opponents are ready at the earliest convenient opportunity to solve the difficult military problems of our time with a nuke strike here or there, but I consider the American nuclear inventory a level of engagement whereby we've conceded defeat using every one of the tens and tens of thousands of other weapons in our arsenal.
"Do I think al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and some of the insurgent groups in Iraq qualify for that kind of concession from the greatest superpower the world has ever known? I certainly do not, and I would hope that my fellow Democratic candidates don't either; but when they start talking about tactical nuclear strikes on the sovereign soil of our alliesweak-kneed, disappointing, and problematic as those allies areI think those candidates have already expressed their views about the use of diplomacy and conventional military force, both in action and in reserve, to resolve the complex problems we're going to be facing on a continuing, permanent basis.
"So, in answer to your question, yes, I would authorize the use nuclear weapons; and when I did, it would be when my best, brightest, and most trusted advisers had convinced me that all reasonable hope in the remainder of our vast diplomatic and military inventory had failed the greatest superpower the world has ever, in all of history, known."
Having responded in that way, Mr. Obama could then move on. He'll have all the breathing room he needs, and he will have conveyed to his opponents attacking his foreign and military policy credentials that they will
end up getting their own noses bloodied playing the "He Don't Like Nukes" game.
That means the debate among the candidates, who still want to damage each other, might have to turn to carving out genuine differences in domestic policy; and to dispense real pain upon each other, they might actually have to level head-ringing blows about the fiscal irresponsibility of their opponents' domestic policy prescriptions. That's when the race might get interesting.
John Edwards could be asked, "When you say your domestic spending programs take priority over bringing down the Bush era budget deficits, do you have even the slightest clue
about the staggering budget commitments the United States Treasury is already
facing in the out years? Where's all that money going to come from? The Chinese and the Arabs? They were the bankers for the neo-cons; do you plan to keep that tab running?"
Hillary Clinton could be asked, "Concerning the severely higher taxes and harsh spending cuts the United States government is going to effect to control the massive budget commitments that threaten to overwhelm us in just a few years, are you going to be ready to propose painful tax increases, not just on the middle class, but also on the powerfully wealthy people who are right now funding your campaign because they think you're really nothing but a low-taxes, Reagan-type conservative just pretending to be a liberal?"
And if Al Gore flits into the race on his red carpet, he could be asked, "Considering you have said that global warming is 'THE
most important issue of our time', where then does that put catastrophic domestic economic collapse in three or four years on your list of priorities, sir?"
A smart Democratic candidate has what in military terms is called a "target-rich" environment with fellow candidates. A smart Democratic candidate who really wants to win must be willing to turn those targets into victims of their own greatest points of political and intellectual weakness.
The candidate willing to engage the race for the White House in that way will not only benefit politically, but will also do the nation the great favor of forcing the Electorate to grasp the gravity of the situation we as a nation face because of the utterly unconscionable recklessness of the Republicans who controlled the United States government long after they had run out of ideas and legitimacy.
The Dark Wraith will continue to disrespect and lecture the Democrats in the weeks and months ahead.
Thank you, Dark Wraith, for another wonderful commentary.
We truly are on an unsustainable path economically in this country, and have fallen into a dark, fiscal hole. Unfortunately, when many individuals go to the polls to vote in our next election, they will be thinking about a talking point they just recently heard from one of the candidates, or are perhaps gravitating toward a promise made. When discussing politics with friends and family, it always amazes me how they regurgitate the latest comments made on Fox, or CNN. Are the vast majority of our fellow Americans unable to think for themselves? Doesn't anyone care to try and peak over the horizon? Could it be that if an issue isn't directly affecting them, it's not of their concern for the time being? It's all so frustrating to me, and unless I have missed something, not a single candidate, from either side of the aisle, has offered up a detailed plan to combat our looming financial disaster, or even commented on the same.
By the way, you forgot to push the button this morning to start the coffee in this place. ;-)
DW didn't forget to push the button. the pot was left on all night and gooey charcoal is soaking out.
When it comes time to vote, we'll have a choice between approved corporate penile puppets. these puppets will be pre-screened to insure that once they are sworn into office, they'll all perform in identical fashions.
Besides, once the war with Iran is in full swing and we're diving deep into a great depression and oil shortage, it won't matter what our next president does.
Somewhat lost in this uplifting and, at times jovial piece is an ignored bit of human nature. When you are fortunate enough to have a sliver of wood stuck under your fingernail or be impaled by any sort of pointy thing, you naturally feel not so good.
Now if you leave the splinter or projectile in your body one of two things will usually happen: the body will compensate and heal it so that eventually the pain will be gone or you will get worse to the point that you will die!
Since most of us don’t want to die and most of us don’t want to walk around with a pointy thing stuck in our side or elsewhere until it heals we usually try to get rid of the problem as quickly as possible. Most times we are successful. But sometimes you have to wait for a more appropriate time to remove the object. This isn’t so good!
Therein lays the human nature part; as long as the incident causes discomfort or pain you want to get rid of it. But once it stops being immediately painful, well, you feel you just might be able to live with it because it’s going to hurt like hell when you remove it.
On the other hand, pulling that damn splinter out whenever, does give you a tremendous sense of relief even if it has caused some latent pain and harm.
We need to remove that damn splinter.
The Democrats are voting on censure! Yay! We're winning!
Tomorrow they'll draft a resolution calling for a public mooning.
I commented over at Blondesense that Harry and Nancy are going to sneak up on Bush, Cheney and Gonzo's houses and ring their doorbells then run.
LOL! On C&L I just suggested they'd leave a burning bag of doggy poo on the White House steps.
I thought it was a joke when in High School civics, our teacher told us that our practice exercises were designed to introduce us to how real life politics works.
Now I know it is true! Washington DC is just like a big High School!
Do any of you remember that old Life cereal commercial? "I'm not gonna try it. You try it. I'm not gonna try it." It could very well be the new Washington mantra. The Democrats are currently politically paralyzed for fear of losing their chance at the White House. While the Republicans are so completely dumbfounded at what the current Administration has done to their party, that they are, for the most part, walking around Washington with an asymmetric abnormality in their gait. ;-)
Another theory is that the Dems are giving godlike powers to Bush, because they think one of their own will be the next President.
Won't they be surprised if Bush is appointed for a third term?
From my blog:
Well, it is official, ChoicePoint, via the major telecom corporations can now legally record our phone calls in order to fish for information.
Corporations will now have their calls monitored and recorded. The President and his staff will be able listen in on phone calls coming out of Microsoft, IBM, Exxon, Del Monte Foods, Bank of America, local police departments, city halls, Masonic Lodges, Churches, attorneys offices.
In addition our private calls will be monitored and recorded.
ChoicePoint has a history of being hacked a lot. So its only a matter of time before these recorded calls make their way to the internet. Your kids will one day be able to listen to conversations you had with your husband wife hours before you went out for that hot date with your spouse.
And of course, one day, these archives will be declassified, so that future generations can listen in on your business and personal calls.
It will be interesting to find out what is said behind closed doors on the conference lines of our major corporations and legal offices.
Good evening, Dark Wraith and colleagues.
It seems that all here, as in several forums across cyberspace, realize and agree that the game is rigged.
Perhaps the Wraith is familiar with my admittedly simplistic & trite but remarkably useful analysis of the economic and political situation: Chaos is the plan.
The people at the top that own the United States feel general mayhem and confusion will only solidify their hold on power in a post-industrial, post-peak oil world. It's a recipe that produces a situation where the aristocrats hold all the gold and most of the guns. The really big ones, anyway.
If you can convince me otherwise, I'd be happy to hear your arguments. But somehow I think you're also reaching this conclusion.
Perhaps the remedy to apathy would be to have Simon Cowell judge the debates?
Then people would be falling all over themselves to participate.
Which makes me again wonder why people can use a phone to transfer money all over the world, but not...vote.
And Kelly Bell, I think that the global elite are congealing in a place that defies geography. They are not concerned with a country, or loyalty. This is the new direction. A transcending elite that rule by virtue of holding all the cards. Where borders, bodies, and laws can't lay claim. The tools of the people, what few remain, will be irrelevant.
I dont honestly think it will be the "Rome-analogized American imperialistic" problem or that damned PNAC vision but a scenario that goes beyond the boundaries of politics and ...citizens.
Even conservative economists cannot deny the fact that the deficit will consume such a huge part of future budgets that the problems of aging population, war spending, infrastructure, medicare, etc. will pale in comparison- what economist of any reputation can lay out a scenario where this WONT have disastrous consequences ten or so years from now? Name anyone!
This administrations own analysts have been outspoken on this- and yet we are not taking any steps to really address it. On the surface, things look ok. After all, we have mcmansions and Escalades. What could be wrong?
Which candidates are REALLY talking about debt? Its noble to ask them about their exit plan for Iraq- important of course- but when will we hear their exit plan for an inevitable economic disaster? The best I heard: One speaker at a panel discussion I recently attended said "maybe a bubble will save our asses?" When I asked if a bubble was likely given the health of foreign markets, he said that maybe a war with China would be the only solution. A war with a country we are afraid to even accuse of currency manipulation lest they get pissy?
THAT is the solution, the plan? We're frikkin doomed.
I think we're basically in agreement, Lynn at Zelleweb.
Anyone who regards war with China as a solution craves a role in a 21st century "Dr. Strangelove".
Not that there aren't serious people- like former Sith Lord Darth Rumsfeld- who have mentioned it as inevitable.
Like I said, certifiable whack jobs. Aristocrats.
Incidently, the name is "kelley b." The last name is initialized. To avoid possible confusion, I'm male, a professional scientist, and married with teenaged kids. "Bell" is not exactly how I'd describe myself...
I am so sorry, I confused you with Kelly Bell at For Whom The Bell Tolls!
I have no idea why I thought you were her. I said "bell" out of habit.
I am really sorry!
And Rumsfeld in his state of the Siths memo claimed we could easily contemplate and handle three wars at the same time. I wonder what he had in mind? I think Afghanistan is all but leaving the queue.
Good evening, kelley b.
There is an essential element of fact in your assessment of the importance of creating a chaotic environment. You might recall my article, "I Am Become Battle," wherein I described exactly how directed chaos is used to control people in military situations.
I have used it, myself, as a controlling mechanism in certain types of training environments. I literally have to fight my natural tendency toward rigid structuring until I have seen a threshold of compliance in behavior and receptivity in cognition take hold.
The good part about this is that, in normal academic situations, I can use the understanding of chaos in a synthesis with my underlying will to structure learning to create what is essesntially a completely scripted but apparently entirely extemporaneous play.
I'm not sure that makes sense, but if you saw some of my economics lectures on YouTube (before I had to pull them), you might have caught a glimpse of the synthetic effect.
In human management at the level of a large group, whether it be in a municipal or national setting, imposing chaos takes more time and considerably more sustained effort through that time to ensure uniformity of populace compliance. On a day-to-day basis, it has to soak in and become a pervasive, underlying sense of discomfort before people become grateful for authoritarian structuring that offers the false prospect of protection from the vicissitudes.
But it can happen, and it seems to me that many people are very happy to embrace an authority that has been the very source of their confusion.
The Dark Wraith wonders how many people have ever noticed their own tendencies (and rebellions against such tendencies) to move toward authoritarian certainty in the midst of chaos.
Good evening, Lynn.
One persistent source of voter apathy is the disconnect between the vote, which occurs infrequently, and the consequential implementation of wide-ranging policies by those elected, which occurs continuously.
At the local level, I know very well that I can have a rather notable effect on outcomes of elections, not so much through my vote, of course, but by my ability to cause candidates to react to me in public forums, in private meetings, and via media badgering. However, my vote, itself, has absolutely no discernible effect on what officeholders do once they're elected: far more powerful forces– some by people and families with local wealth and power, some through the officeholders' perceptions of their unavoidable duties–come very quickly to dominate the decision-making processes, and what I anticipated, in some cases what I was assured of, simply doesn't happen.
Notice how much this is the case with the Democrats in Congress. They're acting in accordance with forces that are not only at odds with what many voters expected, but those forces seem wholly irrational or otherwise strange. The voters' will didn't matter after the election was over, despite powerful pre-election forces that came to bear on those Congressmen when they were campaigning for votes.
This can lead to great despair.
I wonder how many readers here are so frustrated right now that they want to punish those Democrats by just sitting out the next election. That seems like about the only logical thing to do, and it could very well lead to a rout by the minority on the Republican Right; and if that were to happen, we'd hear those Democrats who got beaten lament the voter apathy that allowed it.
The essential problem is this: what is it that persistently creates a force that moves elected officials away from the consistent support of the values held by those who voted for them? Such forces aren't at all capricious, nor are they the product of the fantastic and conspiratorial; they're real, and they work to frustrate the will of voters, and in having so thoroughly frustrated even those most dedicated to democracy, they drive those people away from participation in that democratic process called elections.
The Dark Wraith should point out that, among the possible remedies, going to Washington and kicking your Senator's ass might be personally satisfying, but it is wholly unproductive if the Capitol Hill police are within gunshot range.
Good evening, Weaseldog.
One point of correction in your sentence, "The President and his staff will be able listen in on phone calls coming out of Microsoft, IBM, Exxon, Del Monte Foods, Bank of America, local police departments, city halls, Masonic Lodges, Churches, attorneys offices."
Freemasons don't use phones for important conversations: we wait for the Lodge meetings, then we talk about important matters in person afterward while we're eating the chow prepared by the Eastern Star ladies.
The Dark Wraith is, of course, a long-standing member of the Order of the Knife and Fork.
And about that Congressional resolution calling for mooning the President, I am wondering how many of the current readers here have been around this blog so long they recall my story about how I mooned George H.W. Bush.
Of the few long-timers here who know me in person, at least one was in attendance when it happened (if I recall correctly, given that the incident occurred well more than two decades ago).
The Dark Wraith looks back fondly on yesteryear.
Good mornong, DW.
And about that Congressional resolution calling for mooning the President, I am wondering how many of the current readers here have been around this blog so long they recall my story about how I mooned George H.W. Bush.
Somehow, without pictures to flesh out this story, I don't feel like we've gotten the 'full Monty'.
Sitting out the next election due to your elected official not kowtowing to every issue you hold dear, is ridiculous. Democrats/left-leaning moderates are the overwhelming majority everywhere you look. Why do you think the Republicans are using every trick in the book to make it harder for minorities/immigrants to vote? As scatter-shot as the Left is on many issues, we must come together enough to vote in people that will at least stand for the majority of our concerns.
Your previous commentary on the gamesmanship needed to become a 'Power Broker in DC. goes to the heart of some of these issues. Even I, with my vague notions of how things work in politics, realize that "Rings MUST be kissed. Trade offs that, initially, are not completely to your benefit, must be made. A freshman congressman who may receive accolades from the party stalwarts for standing up to power, will surely find that when they try to push through legislation, it's not just the committee chairman's ass he should have kissed; there's the guys who pulled the strings that got that chairman seated.
Please don't confuse my comments as some kind of alibi for the recent debacle concerning wiretaps...I hate to think that the 16 Dems who rolled over for Bush did so just to look "Tough on Terrorism", though the alternative, that they agree with Bush, is too scary to even consider.
Are Term Limits the answer?
"I have a secret plan to end the war!" - R.M.Nixon
I'm not terribly worried about the change in law at a personal level. (Maybe I am just extremely naive?) However, I do suspect that this new power given to our government will eventually be used in a capricious manner. Perhaps against other politicians, and completely out of the original intent of the law. Congress has shot itself in the foot.
I would appreciate comments on this post.
This is something that I believe should be seriously considered.
Then again, I could be a Pollyanna, to even think so.
Woo Hoo! I figured out the linky thing!
Well As far as responsiveness to voters, I think that VIABLE third party candidates are needed to introduce alternatives, or at the very least I think the platform needs to be shaped at the primary level by progressive organization. Sometimes I work for progressive Democrats, sometimes for Green candidates. I dont align myself with anything or anyone anymore, I dont champion people or a party- I champion the ISSUE.
I spent many years doing political organizing, hitting the streets. I chose to do one of my thesis papers on constituent relationships (the strategy of response)between elected officials and the "public" to look at this very question in the context of stakeholder and power analysis. Sounds weird, but it provides a good construct to conceptualize things. HOW do we affect the changes we want to see? How do we stop being taken for granted? What works, what compels attention, and what is the best way to hold their feet to the fire? How does organization happen, when and how do things fall apart?
I think dialogue is not dictated by the voters, but by the alternatives. Candidates spend a great deal of time trying to control perception and reacting to what the others do or say. Reactive, always.
I think one reality we have to face on the left is that the right is more cohesive, more organized, and they take to the streets more readily to argue their agenda. (million moron marches?)More people will work to eliminate rights, it seems, than to secure them or protect them.
I think we need to do a better job of "less talk, more action". Less ego, more organization. More grassroots with measureable goals and outcomes- results oriented community organization as opposed to what I call "misdirected piss and vinegar".
I try not to cry in my Chai mug, lamenting stupidity, but to look to strategic models for answers.
Imagine if just the people here, in this forum, could find a way to coalesce around one common, small goal? Imagine if the interest here could be bottled, contained, transformed into something with the capacity to affect change?
Here's something novel: no parties!
Every person an independent. Think of the chaos! Who would Big Pharmco and Big Oil support?
19 names on the ballot in November.
Jeebus H. Gonzolas, how would 75% of the electorate vote? Duh?
Good afternoon, Lynn.
The old saying goes that organizing liberals is like herding cats.
Long ago, I learned that I cannot herd cats. Unlike dogs, whose authoritarian dominance-submission nature makes them reliable, loyal, and faithful, cats will not willingly march to the slaughterhouse of watered-down values expressed in elected representatives.
Although I cannot herd cats, what I can do is patiently wait for them to get hungry, then call them to dinner by opening a can of tuna. What I shouldn't do is frustrate myself by displaying much interest in whether or not they are noticing my beneficence. To them, it's just a meal for which I happen to be the delivery vehicle. At the end of the day, I am, then, no more than the Tuna Truck with a horn that occasionally goes, "Here, puss: Daddy's got meat." Whether or not they come to like me, trust me, and show faithfulness will happen over time and will be only loosely connected to my acts in their interest, which I must still carry out, but not for myself, nor for them, but for us as a political voice in the household of American politics.
The Dark Wraith is now wondering if anyone in the whole universe understood what he just rambled.
Some pussies are quite ambivalent concerning tuna. They sometimes, from what I've read, prefer a different cache
of sea men.
Nevertheless, most of us may run out of tuna before the pussies return the favor by rewarding us with some well meant but insignificant morsel.
Imagine if the interest here could be bottled, contained, transformed into something with the capacity to affect change?
I'm not coalescing into any bottle unless Father Tyme cleans off that nasty-ass garlic deodorant he's been wearing!
Regarding cat herding - I think it depends on how you expect a cat to be reliable, loyal, and faithful. They can be, to a very large extent ,(true, not as much as a dog) but cats seem to expect their parent figures to be worthy... much like many of us feel regarding our leaders... countrywise and workwise.
I've had bosses that have been such good people, fair, helpful, and full of fight for their employees, that I would have bent over backwords to make sure their expectations were met. Others, not so much...
"The Dark Wraith is now wondering if anyone in the whole universe understood what he just rambled."
Defining yourself as a "Tuna Truck" was well received by this reader.
Dark Wraith I am sure you will get annoyed at me for saying this, but I am of a different mind when it comes to empowerment and the role of the proverbial soapbox. I believe that people are not so much seeking tuna- which is plentiful- but seeking the tools to obtain it themselves. Our tuna has validity. Dont presume to feed me, buddy. Be a partner, not a patriarch!
I dont want your kind of tuna, cooked and served your way. I want to sit down together and talk about our dinner, and why we both have had our tuna comprimised by The Man. Feeding? Thats so damned elitist this cat could claw your ass right now! :)
I think people can find information, but without challenge, dont often develop the skills to discern issues with a critical eye. If things were changed by lectures and information, the world would be a different place entirely as there are many people who see their role in social action as teachers: "If only I could make them understand, then ____".
Invariably, such people begin to feel burned out, irrelevant, and bitter because they have no method by which to gage whether or not their efforts make a difference, or are heard. What should people DO with the information given to them? What do we expect of them?
I insist that people tell me what their concerns are, not accept what I think their worries should be. I ask how people see their world and obstacles to their goals, as opposed to telling them for hours what they should be feeling and thinking and then shaking my head that they just dont get it.
Information is only as good as the action you take.
The fact that liberals do not wish to be herded is a good thing, I see diversity as a strength. The problem is that there are many people who join causes for reasons that preclude their ability to foster cohesion in collaborative ways. In other words, many passionate people are egotistical dumbasses.
And while we want to be protective of our own, there are certainly sheep on all sides. The remedy is to seek out people on the other side and force yourself to learn, with discipline, to articulate your views.
I think that choir preaching has the unfortunate effect of inhibiting necessary rigor/earnest criticism. We avoid working through our differences to find true common ground, as we dont have "hate gays and women" to rally us like they do.
I am glad that hate is not our tie that binds, but...what is? What is our common ground?
I'm not coalescing into any bottle unless Father Tyme cleans off that nasty-ass garlic deodorant he's been wearing!
If I could save Tyme in a bottle... Suit yourself, Trog, but we're playing your music in here. I'm worried about all this tuna,more than the garlic.
It's better...Tyme WITH a bottle!
Love to share!
"Parsnips, rage, hosebaggery, and...Tyme?"
Good evening, Lynn.
My Tuna Truck makes its regular deliveries to the cats that frequent the village. That there are far more discerning cats is without doubt, and I value them greatly.
They are, however, not the typical cats, and they are certainly not the majority I will need to get elected Tuna General.
We live in a nation–whether we like it or not–of authoritarian followers. We who would pose to lead them by enlightenment, fear-mongering, or charisma simply cannot be that way ourselves unless we are also masterful conduits of true leaders. Most likely, though, we who want to create in the majority political leanings to our liking are what the political-social researcher Robert Altemeyer described as "Social-Dominance-Oriented" (SDO). He rightly pointed out that an SDO personality infused of a Right-Wing Authoritarian (RWA) individual is truly and remarkably dangerous and frightening. Dr. Altemeyer's work is terribly weakened, however, because he utterly dismissed by ignorance the Left-Wing Authoritarian mentality that is the parallel. Its particulars are different from those of the RWA equivalent, but an SDO-LWA is no less capable of commanding extraordinary power–and dangerous, frightening power, at that–than an SDO-RWA.
We have, however, not seen an effective SDO-LWA in a long time. Al Gore comes close, which is one reason he manages to make me nearly cuss just by reading someone praise him; Cindy Sheehan is another; so, too, is Joseph Wilson. But some silly protest rally organizer harping into a megaphone, "Hey-hey, ho-ho, George Bush must go!" is almost assuredly not an SDO worth a tinker's darn; he's most likely just a twit with a megaphone.
Because of the dirth of SDO-LWAs, especially those who won't almost instantly alienate a lower but vocal (and possibly even eloquent) substrate of other SDO-LWAs, we are left with commanding political position and stage by other means. You are describing yourself (perhaps with telling insistence) as chafing at the prospect of being just an LWA. That's fine. Neither am I; and I can assert that a number of readers of this blog aren't either.
At the same time, across the properties of Dark Wraith Publishing, in a given week I have some eight thousand to ten thousand unique visitors (and the rate of growth, although surprisingly volatile, is about a three hundred per month). Almost none of those people would dream of commenting here, although a decent number will send me very nice e-mail messages (and a few twisted souls will send me hate mail).
Many of the silent visitors do want intellectual leadership. More importantly, though, they want intellectual inspiration to maintain their world view and to validate their own essential thinking. They will find part of what they want here; they will find part of what they want elsewhere, perhaps at your site, Zelleblog, perhaps at BlondeSense, maybe at Andrew Sullivan's site at Atlantic Monthly, maybe at Democratic Underground, perhaps elsewhere.
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But the idea that we can and must somehow imagine that enough political power can be brought to bear by turning 51% of the voting Electorate into SDOs isn't going to go anywhere because people are essentially what they are in that regard. In fact, although I wouldn't tell my students this, I'm in the business as a teacher of creating leadership qualities, not leaders.
And furthermore, the very idea that somehow we can create, prosecute, and succeed with a model of political power different from that employed by the Republicans is a prescription for disaster: the party discipline the Republicans mastered years ago assured that we now have the awful situation we have, a state of the Republic moving exactly in the direction the Right-wingers want it, with intolerance, collapse of the rule of law, the rise of church interference in the public sphere, and all manner of other dreams-come-true of the hateful people who understood leadership and followership, and turned that understanding into extraordinarily effective change to a nation.
Whether or not you want to come in and sit in my tuna truck or pull your own up beside mine in the political parking lot is of no concern to me, although whichever way you decide to play it, I'll certainly enjoy your company. At the same time, whichever way that particular dance plays itself out, I still want customers to come to the parking lot.
If you're in your own truck, I'll have to make a decision: is the presence of a competition of ideas, means, and likely outcomes good through "agglomeration economies" the way it is when competing car dealerships locate right next to one another to attract disproportionately more traffic, or is the presence of that competition a deterrent to objectives I see as healthier to the long-run state of the Republic?
In the former case, I'll be thrilled to have you pull your truck up and set up shop. In the latter case, facing the fact that you've already pulled your truck up and made yourself comfortable, I'll just have to offer a better tuna sandwich, which, by the way, I know I can because I'm serving mine on plates that the average cat, not the SDO cat, can find and enjoy.
The Dark Wraith has thus, and with painful obtuseness, spoken.
Now Dark Wraith, I never knocked your sandwiches I just said the "feeding" model seems patriarchal. I dont think it surprised you that I would nag you on this small point?? Sheesh.
I also knocked the idea that information, in itself, is the catalyst we cling to, hope for. This point is sticky only because so much of social action resources are devoted to information. How many mission statements say "to inform, to educate, to spread the truth about ______." Fill in: mahogany, animal testing, wal-mart, etc.
I take a somewhat Buddhist view on education, that to teach the teacher must be every bit the student. Obviously as the proprietor of the tuna truck you are the tuna chef. I think my intention was to go past the blogging forum a minute because we were talking about apathy- and I agree that leadership is problematic. Brings to mind a question I heard recently: who is the Coulter of the left, the Limbaugh? Now I suspect we would agree that we don't want/accept THAT kind of leadership but it brings to mind what exactly we DO want and need.
If a "leader" has money, they are hypocrites. If they sell a book or make money, they are opportunists. If a leader tries to focus on one thing, they are naive, myopic, racist, and so on. I wonder how anyone could possibly meet the expectations of the left and gain their trust, but yet be positioned to play full court.
My remarks were not personal to you. I am talking on a more macro level. But since Im in the doghouse I might as well throw out the idea that perhaps JUST PERHAPS part of the conflict among liberals goes back to a sense that the agenda is seen as set by a white privilege elite speaking for, not with, the groups they often purport to be concerned about. I simply argue for pluralism. One thing I have always admired about your forums is that you do seem to make an effort to have different voices represented. Big Brass has a variety of writers, and so on. I think you are one of the good guys, make no mistake about that!
Car dealerships might indeed cluster so that they each get a corresponding bump- but what happens when its only Ford and GM at these dealerships? I might resent the fact that I cant get a Subaru. Marginalization begets apathy.
Ideally we can all peddle our wares- but change is not a product. Information is a product, but I cant look at action the same way. If the left tries to sell causes, we will always lose. We're just too damned broke.
The great bank bailout is beginning.
If you could make lots of money making bad loans, and you knew the taxpayers would cover your losses and give you a tidy extra profit, wouldn't it be your corporate duty to do so?
And I agree, chaos is the point. I've been saying that since the spin machine first started inventing reasons to slaughter people in Afghanistan and Iraq.
good afternoon dark wraith:
as usual, good stuff here, some silly, some quite thought provoking. when you mentioned herding the cats i flashed on my barn cats. it would be silly to imagine anyone trying to herd that bunch. we have, through a process of negotiation and interaction managed to reach a very beneficial state of symbiosis. you see, by having a barn, with it's dark cubbies and stored hay, grain, and leather goods i built and keep stocked a rodent magnet. in the interest of nutrition i keep a ready supply of dry cat food (cheap stuff from the same store where i buy my hay, grain, and my jeans) but if they want anything chewy and dripping with blood, they have to kill it. and they do. sometimes when i go out in the morning there has been an orgy of rodent blood-letting. before he fell in combat with a rattlesnake the alpha feline, barn monster, would line mouse and rat heads up like a row of trophies to let me know that he was keeping his end of the bargain.
i can't herd cats, but when i come out there to do my chores a group of them always comes running. they won't do what i tell them to do, but they are masters at acting like cats. since that's what i want them to do i will leave the herding duty to harry reid and pelosi.
Good evening, Minstrel Boy.
The trick for Harry and Nancy will first be to learn how to direct those congressional Democrat cats to understand that their job is not to play nice with the rats. Somewhere along the way, despite having been savaged for 12 years by the Republican Revolution rodents, the Democrats are thoroughly convinced that it's all about "gentlemen's rules" and "fair play." Now that they're in power, those Democrats can't bring themselves to use the same vicious tactics the Republicans used for so long to steamroll the country into the state it's in.
I swear–and I've said this before–those Democrats are showing signs of being "adult victims of child abuse."
Someone, and that someone might very well have to be an old barn cat, needs to introduce them to the utterly, carnally delightful taste of blood.
The Dark Wraith sets the grill for medium-rare.
We now resume our regularly scheduled programming.
Peter of Lone Tree, this comment had me laughing...
A Zurich-based money market trader called market conditions "crazy" since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has given no signal of concern that credit markets could undo the real economy.
Someone needs to tells this guy that Bernanke is not his mommy.
I'm still going on about the need for a Constitutional Convention in the 21st Century and would appreciate comments/criticisms.
Pardon the blogwhoring, but I believe this is an important idea that needs to be at least discussed. I interject this here because the thread is open, not because it is an open thread.
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