Saturday, October 28, 2006

How Democrats Should Govern v. The GOP

This an administration, in both the Congress and the executive, that seeks to cut corners and avoid the actual, hard responsibilities of governing so they can spend time fundraising with their fatcat buddies at fancy $500 plate (or even $10,000) dinners.

The only thing that ever gets an sort of interest in a GOP Congress is blow jobs and gay sex. These perverts need to quite nosing around in bedrooms and focus on how our government is performing, because its doing a lousy job, from Katrina to Iraq to the administration of our health system. This is a government of the people, and it needs to be making sure its spending the peoples money wisely.

Bush runs massive deficets so he can give a break to his rich buddies, and talks about raising taxes (or even just not constantly lowering them) as the greatest evil that can be inflicted upon America. But he has raised spending more than any president in a generation. He just doesn't want his rich cronies to have to skip out on buying that second yacht, so he just won't pay for his spending binge and incompetently managed wars. He'd rather have our kids pay for that.
Bush denigrates work, says what's important is to have us "invest," become part of the "ownership society." He disagrees that work is always to be more valued over wealth. So he wants the owners to get rich. To Bush, wealth isn't created by innovation and gumption, but from wisely acquiring companies, sitting on the boards of companies, or owning sporting teams. Essentially, prosperity comes from playing with money, not getting a paycheck. And sometimes your investments really pan out, and you can double your wealth, but sometimes they bust. Then you have to go back to your mansion, think about the failed deal for a bit, and then take some other millions you have and buy part of another company. It's not small business ownership he understands, but corparate posturing. He doesn't understand the concerns and needs of the middle class, and it shows.

He's not working for the vast majority of Americans. He'll cynically frame every little thing in America in the most partisan way to try and pick fights with the opposing party (and his oppenents frankly aren't politically clever enough to rebut it), and to portray them as either gay, cowards or some sort of Tax Monster. But he doesn't want to talk about the issues. And neither does the Congress. They want to stay in power so they can keep giving their buddies federal tax breaks and federal contracts. Then their buddies take 'em out to fancy meals and travel junkets, employ their family and staffers, and let their Congress what a swell guy he is for seeing things his way. And thats the MO of the governing party right now.

Their only pitch is the divisive political angle, and that's the only thing they try to work on when they are in session. They haven't actually dealt with any real problems. They don't hold hearings on Iraq, how the medicare implementation is working, reconstruction efforts in New Orleans, the endemic corruption stalking and felling so many members of Congress, or hold debates on the proper role of American Power in the world to promote Peace and Prosperity. But the moment their is sex talk, be it Clinton's or even Foley's, the Congress will hold hearings. They will pontificate on Terri Shiavo. Someone sees a breast, they'll rave on about it for 100s of hours. To them, the war is something to applaud, not something to actually investigate to ensure it's not all going to hell. Because they only thing they really see is their next campaign ad for the next election, and the next fancy party their big money sponsors will throw. They don't even work five days a week when they are around. They are do-nothing bums. Any new Congress, led by Democrats, should operate monday through Friday. Is that too goddamn much to ask of our elected leaders? That they actually show up to work?

They do not want to actually govern. They are just kicking everything down the road, figuring someone will eventually clean up their mess. And they shouldn't govern. And everyone running against them should be constantly pointing this out. They should be railing on the corrupt, flaccid, hear-no-evil , speak-no-evil, see-no-evil (about Republicans in office, at least) who govern only for the rich. The sad thing is that those in Congress proposed many rational and sensible laws and attempts to investigate the dysfunctions and failings of our government. But they were always shot down by the Republican party, and the hack agenda was implemented instead.

A very strong argument should not be on policy, but on competence. And that requires a democratic leadership to stand firmly for oversight, for investigation, for good governance, oversight, and, above all, hard work. They should be in DC no less than Monday morning to Friday afternoon. And if that means an individual representative or two doesn't get re-elected, that's too damn bad. It is far greater for the party to push an agenda of hard work, and a rising tide lifts all boats. Furthermore, once this oversight and investigating concludes on a particular area, Democrats should say they'll then hold some substantive debates, with many viewpoints offered. Some people with the best ideas and most interest will get together to hammer out a bill, then this bill will be debated. If it looks good, there will be a vote. No earmarks will be attached. The Congress should have constant votes on little or medium sized things (which will keep people at the Capitol working. The days of dirty tricks and backroom Committees should be finished.

I think the American people would be greatful, and would pay them respect for their hard work on election day.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Liberal Manifesto

I see that the good folks over at the American Prospect have planted the flag of liberalism and reasoned government upon the internet. Good to have some reassertion of this traditional term, which was once associated with advancement of the rights of man and of meritocratic, open governments of the people (not just for the heriditary rulers or propertied interest). Just as Andrew Sullivan does try to lead a way to a rationed defense of traditional conservative principles, there ought to be an effort to bring to the forefront the traditional liberal principles, so that these principals stand out when people speak of liberals or conservatives. See this Prospect post, "We Answer to the Name of Liberals."

The media has sadly steered the political discourse of this country first into the gutter, then into the bedroom, and finally, back into childhood. Parties became the "mommy party" and "daddy party," the horserace and individual tactics of a campaign took primacy over policy arguments, and any focus on the competence or diligence of a lawmaker. Reasoned analysis replaced with sound bites, and investigative journalism to stenography. Attempts to appela to mature and grown up thought disregarded, and instead reporting like its some sort of high school contest; an actual sheer popularity contest with no sort of realization that leaders of this nation should be ready to bear a heavy burden and to sacrifice themselves for the people. Instead, the only relevant question they enjoyed asking was "would you prefer having a beer with this man?"

I don't think this declaration will change the infantalized tone in politics, but it is a good start. There should be a consistent political voice refusing to be defined by a our media. The voice of rational governance, against the voice of the vacuous, no attention span talking heads who currently try and control our discourse.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Churchill and the Dignified Response to Terror

I was reading up a bit on Churchill, on the way he viewed a struggle of total war against an implacable foe, and for the umpteenth time, I again had to shake my head at the failings of our president. Especially this gem:

"You might however consider whether you should not unfold as a background the great privilege of habeas corpus and trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the English people for ordinary individuals against the state. The power of the Executive to cast a man in prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi or Communist. (my emphasis)
In a telegram by Churchill from Cairo, Egypt to Home Secretary Herbert Morrison (21 November 1943).
There you have it. Stalwart Conservative and the Lion of Brittania, declaring our new policy on imperial presidential power: The highest degree odious and the foundation of totalitarianism and the Nazi Party. And yes, I do think that the Nazi threat in World War II (which had alread killed hundreds of thousands of Britons by the time he made this statement)
was a more significant threat to civilization then a few thousand Al-Queda types sitting in caves, planning to blow up airliners. We all must deal with risks, and until the danger of driving to the airport is less then the danger of flying in the airplane, we frankly shouldn't waste so much time fretting.

Also, since this fight is said to be the defining moment of our times, I would also like to compare Bush and the reactions of Churchill to leading the British in the defining moment of their times.
"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror..."
Speech in the House of Commons, after taking office as Prime Minister (13 May

He also introduced food rationing to the British public in 1940, to ensure that the soliders could get enough meat. Naturally, the draft was cumpolsory.

Bush...lowered taxes on stock dividends. He also decided to invade a country that had no link to 9-11. Victory was apparently not the aim. But he has won the suspension of Habeus Corpus. Odious. Odious. He has apparently recently read Camus. He should also read a little Nietzsche.
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146

We have looked into the abyss, the ledge has given way, and we are falling. Despite the damage done, perhaps soon we shall begin the long climb back up, the climb to decency, liberty, and truth.

I leave you with more of Sir Winston.
"The day may dawn when fair play, love for one's fellow men, respect for justice and freedom, will enable tormented generations to march forth triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have to dwell. Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair."
Churchill's last major speech in the Commons, 1 March 1955.

Never flinch. Hold your head high. Do not lose your convenctions when you peer into the abyss (which lies within all our souls). Refuse to be terrorized. Important principles, all of which our executive has discarded.