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Conservatism My Way, Blunt and Hard
When I call myself a conservative, I mean that I'm a real
conservative. I'm not a "social conservative," and I'm sure as Hell not a neo-con. Both of those phony breeds make me sick.
I won't hold it against you if you have no idea what a real conservative is, considering the miserable phonies who've been strutting themselves around the Republican Party for the last thirty years or so. If you call yourself a conservative and love yourself some George W. Bush, get the Hell away from me. I don't know what that ignorant wimp is, but he's not a conservative by any measure I ever used. And if you think William F. Buckley is the intellectual soul of conservatism, you're off your rocker: Bill Buckley is nothing but a pseudo-intellectual who, like a whole lot of arrested-development Right-wingers, needed an authoritarian daddy, and he finally found a darned decent surrogate in Dear Authoritarian Leader Georgie. That, or he thinks he found a genuine, life-like authoritarian boob to suckle.
Find some place else to use the word conservative for yourself if you like authoritarians, repressive government, and stupid leaders. As I hinted above, I have no patience with social conservatives and neo-cons. They've disgraced conservatism, and it's going to take years to rebuild the intellectual base of the movement, if there ever really was one considering conservatism's repetitive fascination with crazies all the way from McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover on through to Schlafly, Buckley, and Kristol.
The bright leaders of tomorrow are running in droves to the liberals waiting with open arms to suck them into the bleak authoritarianism of the loons on the Left, and there's no one to blame for this mass migration away from conservatism except the conservatives, themselves, who got suckered into the "Republican Revolution," complete as it was with scum-bags like Newt Gingrich; sleaze-bags like Tom Delay; and, finally, the embodiment of all that is moron in George W. Bush, his mentally ill, paranoid sidekick Dick Cheney, and his metro-weirdo fan boy, Karl Rove.
a real legacy we can sell to the kids. Step right up, boys and girls: you, too, can be part of the wildest economic and military fiascoes of American history.
So, if you're some loser looking for a rah-rah for George W. Bush and his neo-connies, beat it. You've got plenty of sites that cater to that crap.
The same goes if you're into the variants on paleo-conservatism that get all hot and sweaty with their racism. I have no use for bashing people who aren't like I am, provided, that is, they don't want me to be what I'm not. I don't want to be a Pentecostalist; that stuff's weird as Hell, but I don't begrudge people the right to make fools of themselves by speaking in tongues in front of their friends. More seriously, what the Hell does real conservatism have to do with homophobia, for God's sake? A real conservative finds it utterly unconscionable that the government thinks it has the right to dictate which adults of sound mind can and cannot enter into otherwise well-establish, state-sanctioned, wholly productive contracts. It just boggles my mind that the Party of "limited government" is the same Party of stick-their-noses-in-private-matters. It's like having a bunch of liberals cracking their O-So-Politically-Correct whips in the air.
(And for God's sake, don't wave that Libertarian, Ron Paul, at me: in my life, I swear I've had to deal with way too many Libertarians who were nothing but weenie jerks waiting to get a swirlie while dreaming of rising to become Butch-Survivalist Him-Dong of the Post-Apocalypse. You might not be one of those kinds of Libertarians, but be on notice: the swirlies are free here at The Dark Wraith Forums
And don't get me started on the religious whackos. Good God, back in my day, we rolled our eyes at people who went around testifying for Jesus and shaking their fingers at everyone. Somewhere along the wayand I blame the liberals for this onewe started treating the mentally ill as if they didn'tindeed, couldn't
be put away; and where did this get us? Religious zealots who can't control themselves, who are now socially acceptable, waving their religious zealotry around like it's something other than the insane nonsense it is. We mainstreamed 'em, and look what we got: they're on television and radio, now.
Don't get the idea that I'm soft of Lefties. I'm not. If you take the time (well spent time, I should point out) to visit this place regularly, you'll see plenty of fire-breathing at the Leftists, especially the ones who made life so miserable for people that they turned to the charlatans on the Right. The only thing that makes me despair more than the bunch of dumb-asses running for President on the Republican side are the dumb-asses running for President on the Democratic side. Lord, looking at the Dems, we've got our choice of Jackboots in Pumps Hillary; Vapid Smile with a Damn Fine Haircut Edwards; and Crooked as a Corkscrew Obama. Gee, let me grab a couple vats of ketchup to make that
menu sound appetizing.
Here's how it is. Eisenhower was the last great Republican President of these United States of America. Richard Nixon was a far better President than history made him out to be; he screwed up big time, he took the fall (finally, anyway) like he should have, and the liberals wet themselves every chance they get to keep history from recognizing his many achievements. Ronald Reagan is overrated, especially in his first term, when he surrounded himself with hot-headed dumb-clucks; but he did a lot better in his second term, maybe because he was getting soft in the noggin and other people, including Nancy, were running the show. George H.W. Bush was not all that bad; he had the misfortune of ending up in a reelection fight right when the economy was tail-spinning, thanks in no small part to Federal Reserve actions to fix problems it had started while saving Reagan's butt several years earlier.
If you claim you're a conservative, but you can't bring yourself to acknowledge that Bill Clinton was an excellent (not perfect, but excellent) President, then you're deluding yourself. He kicked the asses of the Republicans, and the Republican Party would do really well for both itself and our country if its members would learn from Clinton how to survive, win, and even get some head without resorting to treachery.
Here's some more of how it is. I'm an economist, and I'll tell you right now that this economy is in one helluva mess. It's the kind of mess that scares me to death, and it's all because of the fiscal recklessness of the Republicans. This one can't be laid at the feet of anyone but
the Republicans. Spending money on stupid-ass wars that have nothing whatsoever to do with killing the people we really need to kill is just plain bizarre. So is round after round of tax cuts that hand tens of billions of dollars to rich people. I'm not rich, and I don't give a tinker's damn about how hard it is for rich people to get by when marginal tax rates are high for multi-millionaires. That whole "supply-side economics," "trickle-down" theory crap is Mr. Stupid on Stilts, and anyone who believes that stuff deserves every bit of the misery the filthy rich hand out like they're gods of the pink slips, the outsourcing, the unsafe work environments, and the shabby food processing for big profits.
I want government off my
back, and I want it off yours, too, if you're an average person. I don't want creeps listening to my phone calls like I'm some kind of terrorist; I don't want airport security perverts using their high-tech machines to look under women's and girls' panties; I don't want the government's massive law-enforcement screw-ups being used as an excuse to make my life less free; I don't want wars that don't kill the people who need to die (while killing lots of peopleincluding American soldierswho don't
deserve it); I want law enforcement to be a hammer on bad people, while knowing the difference between bad people and the vast majority of us who aren't bad people; and I want the government to tax adequately without going mad, while spending carefully without hurting good programs and needy people, especially kids.
That's not too much to ask; but, God knows, I haven't seen it being offered up lately. All I see from the Republicans are a bunch of lousy, fiscally reckless fools who fall all over themselves for nutty religious people and lobbyists.
I'm a conservative, a real one. I want this country back. I want it back from the neo-cons, I want it back from the religious whackos, I want it back from the nosy cops, I want it back from the fatted rich boys, I want it back from the cowardly draft-dodgers, I want it back from the whining liberals, I want it back from the Chinese, the Israelis, the Saudis, and all the other foreign countries jerking our chains.
I want it back, and I want it back now
If you don't agree with me, go to Hell; but, please, don't take me with you. Take Dubya and Hillary, instead. They know the way.
If you do
agree with me, I welcome you. You're pretty darned smart, and you might find there are a whole lot of other pretty darned smart people in this country.
Of course, if there really aren't
that many of us, we'll just have to fake it until all the authoritarian followers decide we're
the authoritarians they should follow. That shouldn't be too hard, though: look how many people voted for Bush, and look how many people are going to vote for Hillary.
There's a whole lot of work to be done. We have a country to take back.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.
Dear Dark Wraith:
Richard Nixon was a far better President than history made him out to be; he screwed up big time, he took the fall (finally, anyway) like he should have, and the liberals wet themselves every chance they get to keep history from recognizing his many achievements.
Let us discuss this. I'm a young'un, so I will defer to what people who were alive at the time have to say about Nixon.
But, I'm confused. Given all that about Real conservatism, and keeping the government off your back -- how can you like Nixon? Is it not true that under his administration, restrictions were placed on taking money out of the country, wage and price controls were instituted, and so on -- in other words, isn't it true that he campaigned as a conservative but carried out the policies of an authoritarian socialist? That is the "picture" I've gotten over the years from discussions with older family members, other adults, and literature both mainstream and underground. Am I totally misled? Please explain.
Good evening, Cloud.
First, I distinguish between someone I "like" and someone who served as a generally good President. If we want to talk about wage and price controls, let's talk about the neo-Keynesians: one of the heroes of the liberalism is John Kenneth Galbraith, a man I greatly less than admire, largely because of the policy for which he and his ilk served as technocratic spearpoints in the post-World War II era. (Read my post, "The Economics of Wreckage, Part Two".) Dr. Galbraith burnished his credentials during World War II as director of the office that oversaw wage and price controls. In fact, his ham-fisted behavior got so out of hand that businesses started rebelling politically and used their power to help cause the Democrats to actually lose seats in the elections about mid-way through the war.
Wage and price controls are not a conservative idea; they're the genius that goes way back to FDR: many price ceilings (and price floors, for that matter) were for years "ineffective," in the sense that they were there, but prices were such that the circuit breakers never kicked in until things started swinging wildly out of control. Nixon "placed" wage and price controls into effect, but some of those had been there as neo-Keynesian circuit breakers for decades, anyway, just at different or at ineffective levels.
Now, all of this in no way exonerates Nixon of foolhardy, downright foolish measures. Kennedy and, far more meaningfully, Johnson had set the economy on a course toward a serious problem (Kennedy with his weak-kneed acquiescence to tax-cuts; Johnson with his war-and-social programs spending policies). Nixon, to some extent, inherited these; but the one thing Nixon didn't do was deliberately try to wreck the government: he wasn't one of these maniacs of the Right who have so much contempt for this American experience of ours that he would willfully strangle the fisc and sneeringly put the most incompetent human beings on Earth in positions of power. That's what Reagan did to a minor extent in his first term, and that's what George W. Bush has done throughout his administration. Mr. Bush, in particular, is part of a breed of radicals who want to destroy the very essence of the large, capable engine of state that has been the U.S. government.
— continued below —
—continued from above —
Nixon's price controls were a disaster, and any economist worth his salt said at the time that they would be. Unfortunately, the neo-Keynesians didn't have a whole lot of room to talk: that was a trick from their industrial policy bag. After it was over, there were all kinds of those self-same economists damning Nixon to all Hell, and I still see the ranting in economics textbooks. I tell students that it was, indeed, a time of stupidity; but I also caution that it was a time of desperation: our economy was in one of the most serious crises of a generation. Nothing like that has been seen since, Cloud. September 11, 2001, didn't cause people all over the United States to be in desperately long gas lines, raging at each other, screaming for something to be done. That was a real economic crisis that had every possibility of turning into a societal meltdown of some kind.
I remember it; I was alive back then. It was something to behold.
As much as I can jump all over the politicians of the era—politicians of both parties who stand so tall beside the little men and women in politics today—they were dealing with drama after drama in often mistaken but earnest ways. I cannot, as an economist, countenance what Nixon did as far as price controls go. I can, however, grasp the difference between a bad policy move—one that was rectified in time—and an utterly venal philosophy of policy making.
Therein is where I must call upon a judgment that goes beyond circumstances to the core of policy-making ability and reason. Jimmy Carter made some really bad policy moves (again, some of them as reactions to problems that had started long before his tenure), but he also did one of the noblest policy moves I have ever seen, one that cost him the Presidency of the United States. In that way, then, I can nevertheless call Jimmy Carter, despite some stunning economic policy mistakes, a really, really good President, and I can say that from my standing as an economist.
However, Cloud, you must take my judgment with a grain of salt. As much as I damn these neo-cons and other Republicans, I am not swift to do that, and I have—as long-time readers here well know—often given respect to those against whom I would have fought fiercely during their productive lives. That's just my way.
I will not be giving any such honor or deference to the hateful crowd of the Right. They may burn in Hell for all I care, and I shan't be of a mind to offer them anything but my enduring revulsion for what they are and for what they've done.
I honestly wish I could say I shall be other than that, but the wrong they have done is far too grave.
The Dark Wraith has gone on long enough with this comment.
Bravo, Mr Wraith.
My own memories go back as far as the 1960 election politically-while politics were always a hot topic in our house(my parents met at the Young Dems, and for a while daddy worked for Congressman Giamo sr.(D)...Daddy quit after the second unannounced paycut-seems the congrssman's bimbo on the payroll needed more money-and with a new wife and infant, he had to bail. But my house was a hotbed of political discussion when folks came to visit, children even as young as I allowed to participate and listened to(when you could get the attention of the yelling adults in the room). What I recall of Kennedy is his thrust for space travel, and his death, when Mommy cried on my shoulder after hearing the news that day. I remember a lot about Johnson, but again, a lot went past the child I was. My first major election is 1968, where I was the only prepared debater in the 5th grade, actually went door to door for Humphrey one or two Saturdays. Nixon was a pleasant surprise. As chief at the helm, he did a damn fine job, unfortunately he was really a crook. But even then, I was disgusted at all the outrage and faux shock at his actions-I knew the man's character as a 5th grader, surely all these stupid adults who preferred him to HHH should have known. Character has little to do with effectiveness or even competence. I actually supported him for his second term-horrors in a Dem family, but McGovern was an idiot. I'd rather have someone smart and sneaky running things than someone dumb and sneaky. Watergate only shocked me because I really had thought the man was smart enough to follow the 13th commandment-do unto others and don't get caught. Ford is actually my favorite president, and the democratic congress stonewalling and refusing to work with him pissed me off at dems in general. 1976 I missed voting in by 2 weeks, but Carter running as an outsider with no Washington connections-as if this would let him accomplish anything with Congress-told me he was also too naive for the office. I wanted Ford to have his own term in the WH-especially since he ended the circus Watergate had become by ruining his chances with the pardon of Nixon. This despite $50 rebates and WIN buttons which were soooo dumb. But then, what else was he going to do with a legislative brance determined to do whatever they could to punish him for being appointed by Nixon.
Carter meant well, and in 20-20 hindsight he did make some good choices. He also made some abysmal ones. I did a happy dance when he was gone. He makes a damn great ex-president though, probably the greatest in history.
(Go back to sleep-comment continued)
I was going to have to vote republican in 1980, and my first choice was Bush the elder. When Reagon got the nod, I was appalled-trickle down only works if the folks at the top actually want to share the wealth. At 20 I was already a cynic about human nature. When Bush was picked as Ronnie's running mate, I held my nose and voted fr Ronnie in hopes that the McKinley curse would give me my first pick...talk about offending folks with that explaination!
In 1984 I officially became a repug, having crossed from Dem to indie during Carter's reign. Ronnie hadn't destroyed us and I could not stomach Mondale(?). I voted Bush sr in '88-once again the Dems put forth a candidate that sucked green donkey cheneys. Bush I proceeded to disappoit me by continuing Reagons policies instead of the one's he'd run on against Reagon. His finist two moments were the Gulf War-and stopping where his international support ended, and his necessary tax hike. My least favorite Dem in the primaries in '92 was Clinton. I also picked him as who would get the nod after the first debate. The guy the country needed was the little guy with the bow tie and no charisma, the guy I personally liked was, I think, Harkin. Well, I couldn't vote for Bush because he had thrown in with voodoo economics and the morality corps. I wouldn't vote for a cross between a televangelist and a used car salesman, so I went for Perot-he would not have destroyed the country and it would have been FUN!.
Clinton turned out to be a damn fine president, and Newt Gingrich and his ilk all turned me back into a Dem, which I've been ever since. Clinton's early months did convince me that ex-governors really suck if you want your president to get things to happen in congress. I wish folks would quit electing them. (yes, BushII got everything he wanted-but he has ruined the country as a grand finale to wrecking Texas. All I can figure is he's got files full of dirt on enough politicians that the rest are scared he has files on them too).
I voted Clinton for his second term, and again, all the friggin' shock over the "scandals"-I truly don't believe that I am that much better than the majority of pundits and pols at piecing togeter evidence and judging character. I wasn't a bit surprised-a lawyer Yuppie Boomer-how else was he supposed to be? Married to Hillery, the sex stuff didn't shock me either, just his indisgression.
The campaign of 2000 was a campaign of bland nothings. Pro for Gore-Washington experiance, a story I read about his actions after his son was seriously injured. Con-Tipper. Pro Bush-I did not realize he was so disfunctional a son that he would not ask daddy for advice on foreign policy, and took his daddy as a plus. I basically decided for Gore on election day, simply because republicans controlled congress, and I wanted a dem president.
George Bush is the only politician in 30+ years that has performed worse than my expectations. Either my judgement of him as a bland nothing was wrong, or so true that he became a blank template for the venal ambitions of those who hate our democracy to use as they would.
My character assessment of the current field...Hillary has the smarts, and loves power enough to want the country to do well so she keeps power-I don't like the lady, but will vote for her if she's my only option. Obama needs to grow up before he can be trusted in the presidency, but I think if he finds a Kissinger, he'd be killer in foreign policy. I like John Edwards-he will spend the beginning of his term fumbling, but I think he's the best person character-wise in the race. The Republican field is beneath contempt, and the only one I vaguely like is Thompson as a person-solely because he doesn't cream himself at the thought of being president. I fear a Thompson presidency would be too much delegation, and we'd have Watergates and Iran-Contra type shit all over again. The very non-thirst for power that attracts me makes me afraid because Thompson is a republican, and the pool of talent he has around to delegate to I wouldn't trust to carry out my trash.
A long ramble. I worked 54+ hours this week, and am tired. The one thing is...my first couple decades as a voter I habitually voted against the incumbent if they'd been around for a while. Afer Newt, and now Shrub, I will vote for any democrat who doesn't stink of bush's arse. I want our country back too, and we are not going to have it until we break the republican stranglehold on 3 branches of government. With the Supremes as they are, we have to get both the other two. THEN I'll concern myself with DINO hunting and third party alternatives...well, I will say it is open season on Lieberman, even if he claims to be a Dem.
Excellent commentary, Wild Clover.
Of late, I've had a lot of memories returning to me from the time of the '60s and the '70s. It has stirred me to do better at teaching the issues that had economic bearing. I have a clarity now that I think was absent then, and it's not just the clarity of historical perspective or age-related grumpiness (although some of that might be there, too). It seems to me that the pervasive awfulness of President Bush is giving me a stark "green screen" on which I can now see the politics and economics of the past in sharp relief. It's like the keen eye for nuances of light and shadow that comes from standing in the dark for a long while.
God, my ferocity as a nascent Right-winger and then as a near-Leftist seems so naïve now.
Maybe I'm still out of touch, but at least I'm out of touch in a bitchy, pessimistic kind of way. Someone told me recently that can be charming.
Lord, I hope not.
The Dark Wraith wants to be bitchy and pessimistic in a credible sort of way.
Hey there! Long time no comment. Sorry. The campaign's got me crazy busy. Anyway – I wanted to dwell a bit on your ruminations regarding the various definitions of conservatism. I think neo (or paleo – your pick) conservatism is clearly marked by how their proponents frame each and every idea or debate. It’s ALL about the framing, actually – as none of those front page yackers would know an original idea if it bit them squarely in the ass! Linguistics and metaphor, euphemistic twaddle used to describe issues and set policy. Our nation becomes our family. Our country morphs into our home – a home built by what? Our founding FATHERS of course. And who are we? ‘We’ are brothers and sisters. ‘Nature’ is our back yard (or the other guy’s back yard if we want to dirty it up).
Where does this linguistic folderol come from? Something defined as the “Strict Father Model” courtesy of conservative (and raving loon) televangelist James Dobson. According to Herr Dobson - we are all born as sinners and must be made good through strict discipline (in other words, beat ‘em till they bleed!). Dobby (I like to refer to Dobson as a horse ‘cause he kinds reminds me of one – a spavined, wreck of a horse, yes; but then a horse is a horse [of course]) – as I was saying, Dobby thinks the world needs to be led by strict father figures who will protect the ‘family’, teaching them right from wrong by giving orders and implementing punishment (Mistress Mandy, perhaps?). Those who ‘behave’ (I keep hearing Mike Meyers) are rewarded with financial success - those who don’t, well, kick those babies to the curb. They deserve whatever poverty and misery may befall them.
George Bush has perfected this philosophy. He is “the decider” - the father figure; and all developing nations are his widdle children. As heap big Daddio, he does not ASK his children what they want; he TELLS them what to do. Political linguist George Lakeoff points this out in his fabulous book Don’t Think Like an Elephant. The man’s brilliant in his analysis of how Bush framed issues for his 2004 State of the Union address:
If you are the strict father, you tell the children how to develop, tell them what rules to follow, and punish them when they do wrong…Most of The United Nations consists of developing and underdeveloped countries. That means they are metaphorical children… Should the United States have consulted the United Nations and gotten its permission to invade Iraq? An adult does not “ask for a permission slip”! The phrase itself, permission slip, puts you back in grammar school or high school, where you need a permission slip from an adult to go to the bathroom. You do not need to ask for a permission slip if you are the teacher, if you are the principle, if you are the person in power, the moral authority. The others should be asking you for permission. That is what the permission slip phrase in the 2004 State of the Union address was about. Every conservative in the audience got it. They got it right away.
Two powerful words: Permission Slip. What Bush did was evoke the adult-child metaphor for other nations. He said, “We’re the adult.” He was operating in the strict father worldview, and it did not have to be explained. It is evoked automatically. This is what is done regularly by the conservatives.
What I want to know is: where is the Mother in all of this? Who’s doing the nurturing in this ‘everyone line up to get your bottoms whacked’ modern world? Republicans have often referred to Democrats as “The Mommy Party”; as if being a ‘mommy’ was a bad thing. The framing behind this choice of words implies that women are less capable than men; that compassion equals weakness. What a line of un-composted horse manure! But who calls them on it? Bill Kristol or Paul Wolfowitz (I always get them confused. They each could be the others echo chamber) bang their drums to anyone who’ll listen, invoking the gods of war and punishment – and no one says then nay. Certainly no one points out their father model framing every time they open their mouths. I want to change that. I want to re-frame the debate. Let’s feminize things. As they say over at EMILY’s List – fuck that violence, war, sports metaphor thing. Let’s get cookin’ instead. Time to make the dough rise!
Hey Fat Lady!!!! Long time missed you!
(pssst- not HTML here, BBCode-[ ] not < >).
I'm out of touch in a bitchy, pessimistic kind of way. Someone told me recently that can be charming.
I know some aging queens that describes...
Note to all-I apologise for the horrid spelling in the above ramble. My fingers are fumbly, and my "i before e" controller is broke. I could copy, paste, spell check, then paste it back, but it just isn't worth it tonight.
Wild Clover, never fear; your message came through loud and clear! ~Underdog is here!
Fantastic commentary, and not a yawn in sight. WC, your finger on the pulse of the candyassdates eerily echoes my thoughts on each of the Dems.
Wowwee...back to back homers! Fat lady Sings, I am officially endorsing the Mommy Party. This is not to be taken lightly, coming from an admitted semi-Neanderthal.
Heya, Wraith....great rant. I had to post teasing snippets at my message board under the title "See, I do TOO like Conservatives." Though, to be honest, I had begun to think real ones were extinct. I am not a Conservative, tho' I somewhat alarmingly get accused of being one with odd regularity for someone who is generally seen as one of those Damned Communist Democrats (to quote a former boss who LURRRVES Bush).
I have voted for both GOP and Dems for the White House in my life....but must say the recent crop of so-called compassionate conservatives make me want to declare the cocktail of the day the Molotov.
As for charming disenchanted ranting sorts....well, I am on my wag to Hag-dome there.
good morning dark wraith:
as usual, the writing and the comments here at your flagship site are outstanding. excellent stuff.
i believe that i've commented here before on the thing we have in our nation right now where our leaders are not allowed to be human beings. consequently we get manufactured images masquerading as humans. with lincoln's unpolished manners, unlettered style, his bouts with depression, i doubt he would ever have been able to manage entry to a state bar association, much less a political office. john adams is another who would not have a chance, for that matter, his son, john quincy, would have never made congress, or, if he made congress, would have been deemed a failure for his stern, unwavering principles.
would jefferson's private life been able to withstand the scrutiny of drudge? i seriously doubt it.
when examing a man like nixon, or carter, or any of them for that matter, it is important to view their sum total of action, thought (letters and diaries), and, in the case of nixon, we have all those revealing tapes.
just because nixon got himself nailed for some pretty stupid stuff does not instantly consign him to the dustbin of history. just because he did some truly remarkable things does not grant him entry into the pantheon.
with nixon though, the one thing about him that i remember more than any other fact, is that while i was lying in a san diego hospital bed after being wounded on his orders, he came to visit. no fanfare, no press, no photo op, no staff beyond that needed to drive from san clemente (where he recognised my name on the casualty lists he read every single day, he had given me a decoration a few months prior and he remembered the name so he had them drive him down to balboa to look in)
he was there as a human type being, concerned because that usually faceless list of names, mine lept out. we didn't discuss anything more important than football. we both thought that al davis was the devil.
i have often thought that one of carter's problems was his tendency to micromanage things which is the reverse side of the coin where reagan didn't manage much at all.
good to hear from you fat lady sings! hope your campaign is rolling along nicely.
I don't know how you remain so placid, Minstrel Boy. If some wingnut whackadoodle took all my capitals, I'd be really pissed. The things they're sayin' with 'em, well that's just too much to bear.
I feel for you man!
good afternoon dark wraith:
aahhhh, the placidy. . .don't really miss the capitals, i know how to use them correctly and sometimes even do, when it matters.
i started the no caps thing in response to the internet shouting which was being done, then it morphed into a way to inject what represents my own voice rather than a more polished and presented thing. . .also, it's a small homage to e.e. cummings. the still, small, voice. . .far more effective.
but to go on with the whole human qualities being allowed in leaders, why not have ourselves some folks who can make a mistake and cop to it, and change? even that musclehead arnold in california has found a way to do that, and somewhat gracefully too. one of his big platforms when he ran during the recall was to say he was going to up the money skimmed off the indian casinos in california, although with typical republican understatement he couched it in terms of "fair share." after his election it was pointed out to him that there were many issues like sovreignity and other things involved, also that the current agreements were actual treaties between actual political states . . .
the night arnold went before the people of the state and said "i have examined this issue in great depth and concluded that my position was wrong. i don't want to be the next white man who breaks an indian treaty."
he's still an oaf, but i had to chalk up an "attaboy" for that one.
Good evening, MB.
e.e. is what came to mind when (i) first read some of your commentary. The second thing I thought was, "yep, some consarned wingnut stole all his capitals to yell at him with!"
As I mentioned at BBB; Was that so f'n hard? Rather than lose face, I'd say he probably picked up a vote or three with that kind of honesty.
Wild Clover, never fear; your message came through loud and clear! ~Underdog is here!
Shouldn't that be Undertrog????
Actually, I just remembered someone I forgot in the quick and dirty analysis of Dems-basically because everyone else is so far down the list that only a miracle could get them nominated. From everything I have read (little enough), I like Chris Dodd. He has a snowball's chance in hell, doesn't have the crazy factor going for him to build name recognition,and unless you are from CT, or like me, born there and interested in how the son of our Senator from my childhood turned out, you ain't going to remember his name. Dennis Kuchin[howeveritisspelled] and Mike Gravel get media time because they are eccentric characters. In news stories, poor old Dodd is always the reasoned comment that actually answers the question down near the bottom of the article. He'd do a good solid job as president-kind of like Gerald Ford, not flashy or charismatic, just solid dependability.
Hey- lets pick vehicle makes/models for presidential candidates! Guilliani is a suburbanite's SUV. McCain an Edsel. Romney a cowboy cadillac(don't remember the make-the things that look like cars from the front but turn out to be pick-ups). Obama is a Subaru Brat. Hillery- I want to say Hummer, but y'all are going to take that wrong. Edwards is a classic Mustang-convertible, Dennis a mo-ped, Dodd a chevy station wagon.... Thompson is a motor home. Gravel is a 1970's vintage Chevy Van. Brownbeck an old panel truck with snake-oil ads and revival posters plastered on it. Huckabee is a yugo.
I just threw out the first vehicle that came to mind when I thought of each person. Anyone else want to play?
This, Wild Clover, is a super idea: candidates and their cars. Please, if anyone has suggestions, give them to me. I'll put up a post tomorrow (Tuesday) night with the best suggestion for each Democratic and Republican candidate.
The Dark Wraith finds this whole deal pretty darned cool.
My 25 cents ...
Kucinich - Mazda Bongo
Clinton - Plymouth Barracuda
Edwards - Toyota Deliboy
Obama - Datsun Cherry
Guiliani - Toss up between a Suzuki Cappuccino
and a Vulgrafo Bimbo
Romney - Rambler Country Club
Thompson - Chevy Celebrity Station Wagon
McCain - Ford Thunderbird
I know I forgot some. Yawnnn ... I'm tweepy.
Uh... "Vulgrafo Bimbo"?!
The Dark Wraith should have known better than to throw red meat to the crowd that hangs out at this diner.
Oops ... that should have read "Volugrafo Bimbo." It's the Italian version of the VW Thing, but it's kinda sleazy.
Hey, don't blame me if my keyboard had too much wine with dinner! ;-)
Nice rant, Dark Wraith, but I have a couple of issues with what you have written.
You portray yourself as an enemy of both the Left and the Right in America, but where, concretely is the Left in the scenario you outline? You commendably take to task the leading candidates for President currently being offered up by the (D) Party. Yet undeniably the American "Left", as represented by the three-headed hydra of Hill/Obam/Edwards, is at best the Center-right by the standards of the rest of the world. You have to get to all the way Kucinich and Gravel to get anything representing a European leftist, if even then.
Somewhat related to that, you praise Nixon's accomplishments, such as they were, as being those of a "true conservative". But what were those accomplishments, in fact? Well, if there was one stand-out accomplishment of Nixon's administration it was, I think we'd all agree, the detente with the two main Communist powers, Russia, and even more so, the P.R. of China. But the statesmanship he showed in that matter was almost orthogonal to the overall political persona and rhetoric of Nixon, which was based on the Southern Strategy and, a bit earlier in his career, McCarthyite Red-Baiting, both of which are things that you, presumably, judging from your other comments, completely detest. In fact, the notion of recognizing Communist China was one proposed primarily in "Leftist" circles of the time, being introduced into the Senate by none other than then-Senator Mike Gravel--and promptly dying there with little fanfare, until it was taken up and accomplished by Nixon a few months later. So in sum, assuming that you admire Nixon primarily or largely because of his 1971-3 diplomatic advances, you admire the small leftist streak in an otherwise Rightist politician.
On this analysis, it seems that your claim to be a True Conservative is dubious, and may simply be a strained construction resulting from your trying unsuccessfully to fit yourself into the overwhelmingly Rightward-skewed spectrum of acceptable political discourse in the US.
But pursuing the analysis to a deeper level, isn't the primary institution responsible (at least the proximate, if not the ultimate agent) for this situation the media gatekeepers? Perhaps they promote candidates (on both sides of the aisle) who are remarkably similar in all fundamentals, because they know that their interests are favored by the continued dominance of Corporatists and Imperialists. The only candidates who lie outside this Corporatist/Imperialist consensus (which is truly not all that popular with Americans) can gain even the tiniest scintilla of coverage when they have either gathered some kind of cultlike following (like Kucinich or Paul)--which usually necessarily implies they are wacko for some unrelated reasons--or provide sufficient entertainment value (like Gravel) to keep a few jaded eyes on the process. And to consider the roles played in our policy and choices by such "foreign" players as Saudi A., Israel, and China, these are not anomalies either, but natural outgrowths of the Imperial system itself. A study of the history of any of the long-lasting but long declining Empires, such as Rome, Ottoman Turkey, or Britain will show the center becoming more and more a slave to the periphery. Pointing out a structural reason (as opposed to a personality-based one--i.e. the perversion of Bush, Cheney, Perl, Wolfowitz, or Hillary) for these circumstances, I think, makes us face up to the fact, that we in this country are going to have to actually take power away from the elites, rather than waiting for someone from the elites to emerge to whom we can feel comfortable giving our votes. For what it's worth, I'm working on this myself by promoting Gravel's notion of a National Initiative. But that's not primarily what this is about, rather (at the risk of beating this into the ground), the recognition that there is a structural cause of all of what we see politically nowadays, that being the entire elite's consensus that imperial power is in its interest, and that only by taking on this structural cause can anything be achieved.
Good evening, heatkernel, and welcome. Every time I register a new commenter, I worry that the final confirmation message won't get through. I think I've lost a few because of the black hole that swallows some of my e-mail message on the Internet.
I must quickly and without much fight concede the extent to which Nixon is still a highly controversial figure. Even at the time, I was somewhat on the bandwagon claiming no good had come of his Administrations.
Interestingly, the matter that you cite—his successful diplomatic overtures to China and to Russia—are among his accomplishments I do not consider all that positive, although I don't think he and his people were nearly as foolish as subsequent Administrations, especially in dealing with China.
As a side note, there are three significant issues upon which I would condemn the Clinton White House; and its handling of the People's Republic of China stands head and shoulders as the worst of its protracted, slow-motion blunders.
That aside having been mentioned, the great power of conservatives of another generation was their ability to deal, to give in order to get, and I would encourage those who consider Nixon as a roundly bad President to contemplate the Supreme Court justices that arrived under his tenure, as well as the social legislation and the regulatory apparatus that came into being when he was President.
I am well aware of the argument of critics that his hand was forced in allowing for many of the more liberal programs to come to fruition or expand during his terms, but I see it from another angle: Nixon was not the bully that LBJ had been. Although President Johnson could horse-trade with the best of them, he was far more than willing to use brute force, nastiness, and overbearing meanness to get his way. This was actually all to the good in that it was the way he made the Blue Dogs accede to the Civil Rights Act, but it was more broadly to the detriment of the nation because he would too often choose his own way over consensus.
Nixon was mean and nasty, too, but there was a whole lot of evidence in legislation and other acts during his Administration that indicated a willingness to govern by a means I find admirable in any President: from power, but in concert.
The Right-wingers of the Republican Revolution gave the false—and deeply frightening—appearance of concert, but there really wasn't any such thing as concession in their arsenal of political skills. The fullest expression of this came in the form of the George W. Bush Administration, which had the concert of wolves, all of whom sang on the same page, not because of strongly differing views melded to a resolute governance, but instead because of the resolute understanding that the power of their ideological support could be advanced only by the phalanx of uniform iron.
What really bothers me, heatkernel, is this: the generations of politicians of the Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and even Bush I type would say a whole lot of things they knew were for mass consumption, but underneath it they were surprisingly reasonable men. Among them were some truly awful, dangerous, and venal idiots, some of whom were quite useful, others of whom were rather creepy; but there was, underneath it all, a genuine understanding that politics is politics, and at the end of the day, you really do try not to hurt the country or its people.
It was because of this that I was so deeply troubled by Ronald Reagan, the man: he was not like other Republicans I had seen; and there were Republicans even at the time who, although supporting him publicly, were deeply disappointed that he was going to end up being the standard-bearer of the GOP going into the 1980s. He was essentially the spearpoint of a social conservative movement that arose embittered and ready for a fight in the resignation of Nixon, and these people got even worse—spitting mad, as it were—that they had been thwarted in 1976 with the nomination of Gerald R. Ford at the Republican National Convention.
These social conservatives, aligned as they were with the emergent religious conservatives who had become turned off by Jimmy Carter's brand of evangelicalism, were spoiling for a fight, but far worse, they had no sense whatsoever of old political standards of fair play, decency, and backroom accommodation in political discourse. They were, then, the political equivalent of the hordes from the outlands, and they had found their man, Ronald Reagan, who was every bit as mean and, underneath it all, pretty stupid as most of them were.
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Now, you might be wondering why I have engaged in what appears to be that ramble above, when your questions were somewhat more specific that what appears in this responsive comment. I shall defend my apparent non-answer as such: we—and I am every bit as guilty as many of my friends—see the past through a double prism of distortions. First, I honestly sometimes have a terribly hard time remembering what it was like before this awful time of politics in which we now live; but I know for a fact that, even though politics has always had a brutality, in some eras worse than in others, many Presidents really were other than the way George W. Bush is, and some of those Presidents were Republican, and they were relatively conservative. Second, I despair of the way history has a discordance in it because of the passions of the era; but I despair more of how history can judge an entirety of a person from the finality of that person.
George W. Bush will probably go down in history as a thoroughly awful President, but what worries me so is that he will suffer this much-deserved fate not because he has been, for the scope and entirety of his tenure, a thoroughly awful President, but because he will have ended his term in office being roundly hated and reviled.
That sets us up for more grief in another era because we allow history of political success and failure to be written as the final judgment in scribal marginalia rather than in the body and deep nuance of our Presidents. All of the vile, terrible, utterly monstrous and perhaps even seditious things that George W. Bush did will be swept aside to make a final condemnation of him for history because he was hated as he departed the White House for the last time. And the opposite of that is the shame of the Nixon Administration: that the scope of history's treatment—and, I daresay, far too many people's memories—is how Nixon, in disgrace, finally departed the White House.
I am not this evening of much mind to make wholesale condemnation of liberalism, but I must caution my good readers for the problems we have at hand in this era that, in my judgment, it is not going to be the Democrats who save us from the Right-wing extremists who have so wrecked our Republic. The Democrats have shown utter cowardice, a sheer and stunning impotence even with reins of power in the federal legislature. They have, in fact, shown that they are more than willing to throw away our very most essential rights and think we can be placated with faint little bread crumbs like an increase in the minimum wage. I simply cannot countenance that kind of stunning disregard for the citizens and, more importantly, for our nation. Even as old and cynical as I am, it just leaves me in despair, but it invigorates me because I know, in my heart of hearts, that the revolution against extremism is not going to be won by either countervailing extremism or by soothing words of lying politicians who promise that they'll be different leaders from the Left than the vicious dogs who have led us into ruin from the Right.
I vow that I shall publish later this week a relatively short but challenging—perhaps even maddening—article suggesting just how difficult the road ahead really is for us, the people who love our freedom and want very much once again to love our country for being the safest of all harbors for that which we cherish.
The Dark Wraith has written enough for one evening, though.
Just a quick thanks to minstrel boy for sharing his story on Nixon's visit. Provides some balance.
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