Sunday, January 13, 2008



I'm just guessin' here, but I don't think I'm too far out on a limb when I speculate that not many Americans associate the words "integrity" and "honesty" with our political class. In fact, I'd bet that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that politicians-- regardless of party-- are generally untrustworthy liars. Bob Dylan had it right about the parking meters. Take Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), for example. His voting record is among the half dozen most progressive in the Senate and I appreciate him for it. But as a politician... a machine hack from Chicago who can always be counted on to support insiders and establishment shills whose instincts are self-service rather than public service. Durbin is so bad that, like many politicians, his endorsements can serve progressives as an indication of who not to vote for. Today Durbin says he's "troubled" by Bill Clinton-- someone every single person in America (love him or hate him) saw look straight into the camera and lie his ass off... waving a finger at us in the process-- questioning the integrity of Barack Obama. From what I've seen of Obama, his integrity is very questionable, if not as tattered as the Clintons' and Durbin's. But what I'm thinking about today is more than just pots and kettles.

The whole tenor of our politics has taken a serious turn towards the brazenly unwholesome. Fish rot from the head and so do tenors. Bush, Cheney, the rabidly ideological partisans on the Supreme Court, Rumsfeld, Rice, Tom DeLay, Rahm Emanuel, Denny Hastert, Jerry Lewis, Duke Cunningham, Tom Feeney, Virgil Goode, Giuliani, Huckabee, McCain, Lieberman, Ted Stevens, Katherine Harris, William Jefferson, Mitt Romney... these are people we're supposed to hold in some kind of high esteem? Lying comes as easily to each one of them as breathing.

Bush's assumption of power was based on a lie-- that he won an election-- and his entire agenda is based on lies-- from the elaborate hoax to steal Iraq's oil to the willingness to do the bidding of ravenously avaricious corporations that crave cheap labor and the ability to pollute the air and water with impunity. Everything Bush has done since seizing the White House is based on a tissue of lies and deceit, and not very convincing ones for anyone with a functioning 3-digit IQ. But, thanks to the connivance of our entire political class and the cowardice of our citizenry, he's pretty much gotten away with it.

Some wingnut in the midst of an attack on "Islamo-fascism" or whatever babbling nonsense he was going on about, stumbled onto de Tocqueville's very prescient warning in Democracy in America to Americans that one day we would have to cope with someone like George W. Bush and how susceptible to tyranny democracies can become.
Above these [citizens] an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

Tuesday, Michigan Republicans go to the polls to nominate one of the pathetic pygmies to, despite their sometimes protestations of being agents of change, personify a third Bush term. The nomination is virtually worthless. A new CNN poll shows that regardless of which Democrat faces which Republican, the voters plan on teaching the Republicans a good-- and long overdue-- lesson.
According to the survey, both of the Democratic front-runners, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, hold mostly double-digit -- and statistically identical-- advantages over Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee, drawing greater than 50 percent support in each hypothetical match up.

It doesn't matter which one of the pygmies wins in Michigan. Voters have taken a good look and hate them all-- and not just Democrats and independents. Even Republicans hate the Republican hopefuls. Mark Levin at that bastion of right-wing extremism, National Review, informed his readers today that he finds "Huckabee's tactics and candidacy so deplorable" that it's hard to imagine him, or like-minded Republicans, bothering to go to the polls next November if religionist fanatic Huckabee manages to win the nomination. Other Republicans feel equally and passionately disdainful of McCain, Giuliani, and Romney. With Willard on the verge of winning in Michigan, a brokered convention looks almost inevitable, further debasing the value of the GOP nomination. (Let's hope they turn to Jeb Bush.)

I find Jonah Goldberg to be one of the most execrable right-wing propagandists spewing claptrap into the mainstream media. His writing best serves to line bird cages or wrap the rotting fish I was talking about above. But his column-- or parts of it-- in today's Washington Post, Cloudy Fortunes For Conservatism, is worth reading. He bemoans the chaotic state of the GOP presidential nomination battle, without ever mentioning that "None of the Above" still wins all polling in the Republican race.
Much of this chaos is attributable to the fact that this is a very flawed field, or at least one ill-suited for the times we're in. If a camel is a horse designed by committee, then this year's Republican field looks downright dromedarian. This slate of candidates has everything a conservative designer could want-- foreign policy oomph, business acumen, Southern charm, Big Apple chutzpah, religious conviction, outsider zeal, even libertarian ardor-- but all so poorly distributed. As National Review put it in its editorial endorsement of Romney (I am undecided, for the record): "Each of the men running for the Republican nomination has strengths, and none has everything-- all the traits, all the positions -- we are looking for."

But conservatives should contemplate the possibility that the fault lies less in the stars-- or the candidates-- than in ourselves. Conservatism, quite simply, is a mess these days. Conservative attitudes are changing. Or, more accurately, the attitudes of people who call themselves conservatives are changing.

The most cited data to prove this point come from the Pew Political Typology survey. By 2005, it had found that so many self-described conservatives were in favor of government activism that they had to come up with a name for them. "Running-dog liberals" apparently seemed too pejorative, so the survey went with "pro-government conservatives," a term that might have caused Ronald Reagan to spontaneously combust. This group makes up just under 10 percent of registered voters and something like a third of the Republican coalition. Ninety-four percent of pro-government conservatives favored raising the minimum wage, as did 79 percent of self-described social conservatives. Eight out of 10 pro-government conservatives believe that the government should do more to help the poor and slightly more than that distrust big corporations.

There's more evidence elsewhere. As former Bush speechwriter David Frum documents in his new book, Comeback, income taxes are no longer a terribly serious concern among conservative voters... Today the American public seems deeply schizophrenic: It hates the government-- Washington, Congress and public institutions are more unpopular than at any time since Watergate-- but it wants more of it. Conservative arguments about limited government have little purchase among independents and swing voters. This is a keen problem for a candidate like Romney, because it forces him to vacillate between his credible competence message-- "I can make government work"-- and his strategic need to fill the "Reaganite" space left vacant by former senator George Allen's failure to seize it and Thompson's inability to get anyone to notice that he occupies it. Worse, the conservatives who want activist government want it to have a populist-Christian tinge, and that's a pitch that neither McCain nor Giuliani nor Thompson nor Romney can sell.

Yadda, yadda, yadda... yes, their dark, reactionary, miserable world is crumbling around their ears. But in his tirade against the changing attitudes of so many Republicans and conservatives, Jonah leaves out-- is probably incapable of contemplating-- the most important point of all: Republicans stink of treason. Their bankrupt ideology and the runaway greed and selfishness that it engenders and excuses provides them with a semblance of intellectual and pseudo-moral cover to sell out the Constitution, our national security, concepts like liberty, equality, fairness, and democracy, and the national good their offices charge them with serving. The Bush Regime's policies in Iraq step over the line into actionable treason. And Republican congressmen and senators-- as well as more than a few Democratic congressmen and senators-- went right along with them. So did the media and the political establishment inside the Beltway. And so, alas, did most grassroots Republicans. Bush is still supported by nearly 30% of the American people and a majority of Republicans. Yes, they have a well-deserved meet up with the American public coming up behind the woodshed next November.

I made a little clip to the music of folk singer Tim Hardin while I was thinking about this stuff. It relaxes me. I hope you enjoy Tim's music as much as I do:

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At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a treat to hear Tim Hardin and one of my favorite songs again ... sadly all too appropriate for that pack ...

thanks Howie!

At 2:33 AM, Blogger William H. White said...

I think "None of the Above (NOTA)" on the ballot is a wonderful idea. Clearly, all legitimate consent requires the ability to withhold consent.

Just as voting "NO" on ballot questions allows you to withhold consent, NOTA on the ballot after each candidate list allows you to withhold their consent from an election to office.

If NOTA get more votes than any candidate for an office, then a new election with new candidates is held.

Also, NOTA on the ballot means candidates running unopposed, as many do, would have to get voter consent to be elected.

In the meantime, if you do not like any candidate and would otherwise not vote, write-in "None of the Above" to send a clear message.



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