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Jennifer

He shoots, he scores!!! Another wonderful and satisfying post... and yet another that I want to enlarge and put on my garage door for the world to see.

Ken Muldrew

Thanks Lance, that was a nice post. Reminded me of Col. Sherburn.

"Do I know you? I know you clear through...

You didn't want to come. The average man don't like trouble and danger.
YOU don't like trouble and danger. But if only HALF a man--like George W, there--shouts 'Torture him! torture him!' you're afraid to back
down--afraid you'll be found out to be what you are--COWARDS--and so
you raise a yell, and hang yourselves on to that half-a-man's coat-tail,
and come raging up here, swearing what big things you're going to do."

Gentlewoman

Very good summation! One minor thing that I would add, is that it seems to be very difficult for the Bush supporters to admit that not only has Bush been a horrible president, they made a mistake in supporting him.

There appears to be some sort of psychological disconnect happening that prevents this type of person from admitting error. I am not sure why this is, but the Bush cultists I live among here in Red State America will perform some astounding contortions rather than admit that things are not going well in this country, much less in Iraq. You can see that they know it, but apparently if they refuse to admit it, somehow things will get better.

I don't know how this translates in terms of November. I think a lot of them will just hide out that day and not vote. That would certainly be best. I suspect that the GOTV for the Republicans will be very difficult.

Kate Marie

Dear Lance,

I try not to take posts like this personally, but sometimes it's difficult . . . Now, you might object that you don't mean to denigrate the otherwise decent individuals who vote Republican, that they're not really stupid and evil, just misguided and wrong, but your post seems to participate in precisely the kind of abstract "Othering" that you accuse Republicans of specializing in. I could just as easily modify one of your passages thus:

"Throughout history, most tribal people have treated the Other as less than human, lower than some animals. Except for some of the more uninhibited Left Wing bloggers, porgressives on the whole have chosen to treat the Other as an abstraction. Theocrats or Corporate Greed or Homophobe or Zionist are all words invented to distance people from the real human beings the Politics of Resentment would otherwise treat as demons to be exterminated."

And since your psycho-analysis of people who vote Republican is pitched at the level of generalities it's hard to refute, but it's also hard to prove. Thus it tends to confirm the prejudices of people who already agree with you without posing the slightest challenge to the ways in which their own worldview may be unthinking, reflexive, and dependent upon caricatures of their ideological opponents.

I can lay out the specific issues that incline me to vote Republican, and I dare say I can speak just as intelligently about those issues as most people who vote Democrat, and while I understand the writerly impulse to get into the heads of the "villains" (i.e., Bush and company) and those who unwittingly "enable" them, I think that such an approach displaces debates about the efficacy of specific policies and the import of specific issues onto the rather shakier ground of motivation.

In other words, if you want to discuss politics, let's discuss issues, history, contrasting models of foreign policy, etc., and if you want to look in my heart, well . . . why not write one of your very fine stories about it?

Shakespeare's Sister

Actually, Glenn Greenwald asked the question. I just offered my own answer. ;-)

Great post, as always, Mannion. But you're still on notice.

julia

the sad thing is that they actually weren't written by Barry Goldwater.

Conscience of a Conservative was actually written by Brent Bozell.

J. D.

While I am totally ashamed of the United States of America's role in the fate of Arar, let us not forget that the Mounties provided us with the totally false information that we were all too ready to believe.

The whole of North America deserves a swift kick in the pants for this.

jillbryant

May I make the request of one of your commenters to go ahead and offer up reasoning as to why she votes Republican?

Personally, I think if Ms. Marle is voting Republican at any time since Bush has taken office, she's being marketed into it with Rove, Luntz and others, not only looking directly into her demographic heart but gauging and adjusting a word-by-word reaction to the "presentation" of policy and issues regardless of (and usually at odds with) the actual execution...which brings us right back to motivation. But, I'm a marketer so of course that's what I see. I'm interested in her analysis.

Kate Marie

Jill Bryant,

Leaving aside, for a moment, your perceptive analysis of my voting habits, I'm curious to know whether you think that anyone who votes Republican is "marketed into it" and anyone who votes Democrat is a clear-eyed visionary untouched by the tactics of political spin, packaging, obfuscation, and triangulation?

As for the reasons I vote Republican, I agree with them more than the Democrats on the following issues (which is not to say I think the Republicans have executed policies perfectly or remained perfectly faithful to some of their principles, but given the Democratic Party platform, I haven't really anywhere else to turn):

1) "The war on terror." As Sam Harris (certainly no wingnut) has recently pointed out, Democratic partisans who suggest that the only evil to fear from terrorists is that they will make us afraid don't inspire confidence that they will handle Islamist terrorism very brilliantly. Because, you know, are those people from the WTC, the Pentagon, Madrid, London, Bali, Jordan, Khobar Towers, U.S.S. Cole, Beslan, etc. "afraid" or are they dead?

2) The Supreme Court.

3) Abortion.

4) School choice.

5) Illegal immigration.

That's for starters. Now, you may disagree with the positions I take on these particular issues, but I'm willing to bet they're just as thoroughly thought out, and even as moral, as your own. I don't want to hijack this comments thread, but if you care to delve into any of these issues in greater depth, please feel free. I don't generally assume that anyone who holds positions contrary to my own is deluded or brainwashed, chiefly because making such an assumption would mark *me* as deluded.

In any event, I don't see how you're going to prove to me that my positions have been manufactured by Karl Rove unless you show me how Catholic theology, Edmund Burke, Thomas Hobbes, Freidrich Hayek, Russell Kirk, Whittaker Chambers, Allan Bloom, and Fyodor Dostoyesky are all in on the dastardly Rovian plot.

[stage whisper to Karl Rove]: Psssst, did I say it right, Master?

Gaijin Biker

Prove to them that the death penalty has resulted in the accidental execution of many innocent people...

I'm not an expert on death penalty issues, so I ask in all sincerity: Is there, in fact any proof that an indisputably innocent person (let alone "many") in America has been wrongly executed?

I'm not talking about innocent people who were on death row and later freed. And I don't mean a person who maintained his innocence despite being found guilty, like Tookie Williams.

I mean clearly, irrefutably innocent — i.e., they found the real criminal later on, or they suppressed evidence at trial that clearly exonerated the person. And I mean actually executed.

Gaijin Biker

I want mine and if I don't have it, it's because you have it and don't deserve it, so hand it over, now!

That is actually the main plank of the Democratic platform, i.e. "progressive" taxation and wealth redistribution.

David Parsons

>>In fact, a lot of Republicans are outraged, embarrassed, and disgusted<<

I have trouble believing it; at any given time, between 30% and 40% of people polled appear to think that Maximum Leader Genius is doing _just fine_. Not very many of those people are Democrats, and only a slightly larger chunk are not affiliated with any party. It's only the Evil Party (the party formerly known as the Republicans before the B*shies got control of it) that has _strong_ support for Dear Leader.

Sure, some random EP members might _say_ that they are opposed to torture, but when it comes down to it they'll pull the lever to vote the EP party line. Look at Kate Marie, for an example; it's pretty obvious that she doesn't care about torture, as long as the EP will pack the Supreme Court with antiabortionists, because she claims to vote EP _even though_ it was well known that they were the pro-torture party before the 2004 election.

There may have been one or two Evil Party members who were shocked and outraged by the malign antics of their self-proclaimed Great Leader, but those members have left the party. The ones who say "torture is bad, but ...", no, they aren't shocked and they're just like the rest of their sorry lot, no matter how much they might object that they're different, really, and it's nooooottt faaaiiiirrr to lump them in with their bedfellow.

Kate Marie

On the contrary, David, I do care about torture. And I certainly don't condone torture or support policies which would justify its use.

I simply don't fool myself that the Democrats have any greater moral authority than the Republicans, and given the totality of the issues that are important to me, I'll take the Republicans. You've made another choice. It's fortunate that I don't go in for the moral preening which would be involved in calling your party the evil party, otherwise I might ask you whether your parents (or grandparents) left the Democrats when they found out FDR was rounding up American citizens, seizing their property, and putting them in camps, or whether you were ashamed enough of Clinton's (and the U.N.'s) inaction on Rwanda to reconsider your support of their platform. If three quarters of a million slaughtered Rwandans aren't enough to make you abandon liberal principles or the Democratic platform, some evidence of torture (as morally reprehensible as it is) isn't going to make me abandon the political platform that I support.

In the end, I'll take my Evil Party and the "Dear Leader" over your moral preening and incoherence.

But that's because I'm evil. And you're good.

But *I'm* the one who constructs an Other out of my political adversaries.

Jill_bryant

Lance - I don't want to hijack your site either...maybe we should take it off line? Kate Marie -You're obviously an intelligent woman and I doubt if I'm going to say much (if anything) you haven't heard but I would like to make a few points and ask a few questions.

Are you surprised that I think you are a textbook demographic for Rove (BTW, I didn't say you worked for him - are you saying you do?) You basically cited Republican talking points as the most important issues of the day (What, no taxes? Gay marriage?). I'm obviously not the target because the only point of major, immediate concern you and I have in common is point 1.

And, I'm sure you know what I cited as Republican marketing techniques are also on record. Luntz openly displays his skills of using words to deceive and also, monitoring the target demographics.

Democrats marketing? Funny AND sad. Even you cite Sam Harris - not a Democratic leader - when talking about their plans for the war on terror. Since I haven't read him I don't know what Democratic partisans he mentioned. Sounds like FDR.

Which reminds me - why do people act like we haven't fought incredibly frightening enemies before? The Japanese for one - weren't they the first suicide bombers and, at the least, their crimes against the Chinese were impossibly brutal. The Germans - very close to world domination. Is it because we are entirely dependent on oil and the country is being run by oil men who have turned away from any efforts to get us off it?

Did you read Richard Clarke's and Paul O'Neill's books? What did you think? Not real Republicans?

Bringing up the Supreme Court reminds me of something else - what did you think of what Sandra Day O'Connor said about the right wing? Do you think she is an activist judge?

I find it interesting that everyone you cite as influencers died before Bush took office. Do you think any of them would be supporting what Bush is doing? What do you think when Reagan's advisors (and other long time Republicans) are against Bush?

Last point - (I shouldn't have looked at this site again before I went to sleep)...abortion. I'm hoping that the morning after pill will make this all moot (unless you're against contraception too) but...what I don't understand is the legalization of abortion was never to be pro-abortion - it was to give poor women access to safe abortions - rich women have always had that. So - instead of working against changing that, why aren't anti-abortionists working against the situations that cause women to have abortions. And married women have abortions, too. So, if you are against contraception, are you touting welfare? You know that no woman WANTS to make the decision to have an abortion.

Lance

Jill, KM,

The comment thread belongs to the readers, as far as I'm concerned. Discussions lead where they lead. As long as things stay civil, and since both of you are the epitome of civility, go right ahead. I just worry about trolls of either left or right showing up. Let me know if any do.

David, I don't know what to make of the polls. Bush seems to be down to only the most diehard Republicans, but I think the numbers show that something like 20 per cent of registered Republicans have given up on him. It used to be that most registered Independents voted Republican often enough that they were kidding themselves about their lack of party affiliation.

That would suggest that there are millions of Republicans who have rejected him and his all his works, including torture.

But recent polls I've seen show that over 50 per cent of the people think Bush is doing a good job in one area---dealing with terrorism. Since his torture camps are part of that, it would seem that not just Republicans but Independents and some Democrats are all for torture as long as he doesn't start torturing them. I really think that people hear the question not as "Is he doing a good job?" but "Has he managed to keep us from having to watch another big building blow up in one of our cities?"

But it could also be that a lot of people, no matter their party, have no problem with us torturing anybody, they just don't trust Bush to do the job of torturing right, anymore than they'd trust him to manage flood control in their home town.

As my post makes clear, I don't have a high regard for human beings of any political affiliation.

My other point, though, is that Republicans have so tied their fortunes to the guy that they don't dare criticize him because it sounds too much like criticizing themselves. So no matter what they really feel about driving the wrong way down one way streets, they have to keep yelling out the windows to other drivers, "Turn around, you idiot, you're going the wrong way!"

In short, they are like Kate Marie; there are things they want done that they think can only get done under a Republican leadership, therefore they are willing to put up with Bush and his goon squads and Inquisitors and even excuse them, for what they regard as a greater good.

But I do have a question. Since it is known that an awful lot of the people we've got locked up in the torture camps aren't terrorists and don't have any information worth anything anyway, the odds are really good that we are torturing or having tortured many innocent people.

Why are the potential lives of unborn American zygotes worth more than the lives in progress of all these innocent torture victims?

Also, with his judicial appointments, Bush has made it clear that he's not appointing anti-abortion judges, he's appointing Right Wing authoritarians who happen to want to deny women the right to an abortion along with denying a whole lot of other rights to all men and women. It's again a case of putting the potential lives of zygotes ahead of the real lives of adults. Why do the zygotes have the edge? And how do you explain to the children already here that they need to grow up in a world where torturing innocent people is the norm---and now that we do it, it is---so that some potential children may be born?

In other words, how great a hell on earth are you willing to tolerate for already living children in order to bring more potential children into it, and why do you think those potential children are going to want to come into such a world?

Why do all those children in Iraq have to die and many more die over the next two years so that some zygotes in the future come to term?

Lance

GB: That is actually the main plank of the Democratic platform, i.e. "progressive" taxation and wealth redistribution.

GB, actually, it's the main plank of any populist program, and the Republicans are the populists these days. But!

You're assuming that the ultra Rich and the corporations progressive Democrats want to pay more taxes a.)actually earned all that money as opposed to kept for themselves money their employees made for their companies, b.)pay their fair share of taxes already, and since many of them pay none or next to none while they reap the most benefits of living here---think airports, just as a start---that's a toughie, and c.) that money collected by the government to build schools, pave roads, provide health care, and keep intact an army that might actually have had a chance in Iraq is the same as money kept by the rich to buy their kids a new model BMW to drive to their ski vacations in anc by corporations to buy another private jet for the CEO and expand the gym for the top executives.

I'm not an expert on death penalty issues, so I ask in all sincerity: Is there, in fact any proof that an indisputably innocent person (let alone "many") in America has been wrongly executed?

GB, I'm pretty sure there is, and I'll try to dig it out. But, for now, don't you think it would be an amazing coincidence that no innocent people ended up on death row until after we'd developed the forensic techniques to prove they were innocent?

Plus, the death penalty has a long tradition. Do you think all those people hanged in Salem were really witches? Please don't tell me that we're so much smarter and better than those Puritans. As long as human beings are making the calls, they will screw it up royally somehow.

Kate Marie

Okay, guys, I have a day of school volunteering ahead of me, so I'll not be able to respond to some of these comments until later, but to Jill Bryant, who said I cited "Republican talking points," I would ask -- are you sure you know what "talking points" means? Being concerned about particular issues is not a "talking point," and since I didn't elaborate on any of the issues I mentioned, I'm confused as to how you think I spouted "talking points." On the other hand, I could say you cited Democratic talking points in your response.

Lance, you ask, "Why are the potential lives of unborn American zygotes worth more than the lives in progress of all these innocent torture victims?"

-- Who said they were? I think it's interesting the way you have seized on abortion, though I listed it as *one* of the issues that's important to me, and the way you assume that my mention of the Supreme Court was merely a corollary of my concern for abortion. And with all due respect, Lance, your characterization of the Supreme Court as right wing authoritarians strikes me as a caricature that's beneath you. Have you ever read the decisions and dissents in any Supreme Court case? What rights, other than abortion, have these right-wing authoritarians shown the desire to take away -- the right to medical marijuana (oops, that was mostly the liberals on the court)? The right not to have one's home seized because a bunch of yahoos on the city council want to sell it to a private developer who thinks he can do better with it (ooops, many of the liberals supported that one, too)?

We disagree, both about the number of innocent people who are being held and about the number who are being tortured, and we might even disagree on how to define torture (I'm not sure about sleep deprivation, for instance), but I would ask you -- as I asked David -- would you have refused to vote for FDR? *All* the people he put in camps here were innocent. You're all *requiring* that I vote on a single issue -- the one most important to you, and about which we could argue the details -- and if I don't, you're all blithely willing to label me as evil. I haven't returned the favor, even though you countenanced Clinton's inaction on Rwanda (not the same as active torture, but it ain't chump change), his cavalier killing of an innocent man in the Sudan pharmaceutical factory bombing, his bombing of the children of Bosnia/Kosovo, without abandoning the Democratic Party platform. Is it a case of putting dead fetuses ahead of a staggering number of adult Rwandan lives?

And,look, I don't really endorse the rhetorical strategy I used above, but sauce for the goose, etc.

Ed D

On the death penalty being wrongly applied... About 10 years ago I looked into this and at that time there had been 133 cases of wrongful execution since the 1930s. The 133 is the right number but I may be off on the 'since the 1930s'... might be the 1920s. In either case it's way too much.

I would think that Illinois project that used new DNA technology to prove many on death row were indeed innocent would be enough to at least strongly suggest that we've offed a few innocents over the years. It was enough for the governor to halt executions. By contrast, how many execution orders was it that Bush signed as Texas Governor?

As for abortion - my cousin was part of Operation Rescue and I believe was even arrested while spewing hatred at some very troubled pregnant women as they sought help (maybe counseling and not even abortion) at the clinic. He is a fundamentalist - his whole life revolves around Jesus. It occurred to me that instead of spitting out hatred he should be out there with a basin and towel, washing these women's feet, giving them the comfort and love that might touch their hearts and change their minds. While I know this one episode doesn't apply to all who are anti-abortion, it does hold wide applicability. In that sense, the anti-abortion movement is being used as tribal glue - the hate variety - rather than being a well thought out position. Put it in terms of a 'Sophie's Choice' - where she had to choose between her two children - which to live and which to die - the most chilling moment ever depicted in cinema. While we do it in the abstract, we do make that choice - and the anti-abortion folks choose to save the unborn while quite diffidently ignoring what can be done for the already living - and working towards a just world (which would also greatly curtail terrorism.) For me it dovetails way too nicely into the 'survival of the fittest' (called eugenics once upon a time) thought form of the right wing. And while that thought form is correct, there is another one available to us which is that bit about loving one another. And it works better. Even Darwin pointed out that the cooperative species tended to do better than the gladtorial ones. But we've hired ourselves a gladiator and his hubris backed by our dwindling might is taking the whole world down the dark path of deconstructing civilization. Civilization is a concept based on cooperation and self-sacrifice - "taxes are the price of civilization " (O.W.Holmes) and all that. Unfortunately, the guiding principle of the Ameridan right wing is rogue individuality (I can do anything I want if I have the power to do it) It is infectious because it appeals to our base appetites and tells us that greed and selfishness is A-OK. I believe this is why Reagan is so well loved - in misreading the tenets of the free market he told us we could exercise our greed and selfishness as it was the best thing for America and its economy - fo forth and sin. Adam Smith actually thought it was the respect of our fellow man that drove our wills. In any case, the promotion of rogue individuality as more important than community is destroying America. It is anti-cooperative and is anti-civilization as well.

Kevin Wolf

Good stuff, Lance.

One of the popular reasons to support torture is the "ticking bomb" trope - savings the lives of many innocents by torturing a couple of bad guys.

Aside from being too simplistic, reducing a thorny ethical issue to a storybook level, it flies in the face of the expert opinions stating that torture simply doesn't bring forth reliable information.

That the present administration would prefer to go the storybook route while labeling discussion and dissent as appeasement is just as revealing - and as worrisome to me, an "innocent civilian" not likely to be targeted - as their penchant for torturing in the first place.

This ain't even a slippery slope - it's a goddam water slide.

Sardonic

"It's only the Evil Party (the party formerly known as the Republicans before the B*shies got control of it) that has _strong_ support for Dear Leader."

It is comments such as this that make me think that those who are so opposed to the current President are not exactly the most mature people in the country, which leads me to question why I should believe their rants. Frankly, I don't believe the rants because they are like this - over the top, and based on not-much-to-go-on-except-Bush-Hate, which predates anything the President actually did in Office. Interesting. And Whatever.

David Parsons

(Kate-Marie, EP apologist) >>I might ask you whether your parents (or grandparents) left the Democrats when they found out FDR was rounding up American citizens<<

That would have been quite a feat for my grandparents, because they were Republicans. Now if you'd asked me about what I did when Clinton allowed the mass murder of the Branch Davidians (In case you're wondering, I stopped voting for Democrats until it was obvious that the Evil Party would destroy the United States if they got into power) that would have been a worthwhile question. It's somewhat revealing that you care more about a man who has been dead for over 60 years than you care about a bunch of men who are quite alive and who are working diligently to institutionalise torture right now.

(Sardonic, EP apologist) >>It is comments such as this that make me think that those who are so opposed to the current President are not exactly the most mature people in the country, which leads me to question why I should believe their rants<<

We're talking about the EP institutionalizing torture and you're worried that I'm perhaps a little bit shrill? Thanks for helping prove my point.

There are very few things that either of you can do to convince me that you're not just another pair of pro-torture EP apologists. One of those things would be to publically repudiate the EP and swear not to support or vote for any Republican candidate until the pro-torture cancer has been removed from your party. My money says that you won't.

Mike Schilling

The right not to have one's home seized because a bunch of yahoos on the city council want to sell it to a private developer who thinks he can do better with it (ooops, many of the liberals supported that one, too)?

This is an interesting one. The Supreme Court showed judicial restraint by not finding eminent domain seizures in favor of private entities unconstitutional (correctly, so far as I can tell), but still got bashed by the Republicans, who are supposed to oppose the kind of judicial activism the opposite decision would have exemplified. It's quite clear that "judical activism" really means "decisions I disagrre with".

It's also interesting that, to the best of my knowledge, no one opposes this sort of seizure on principle when it's used to build sports stadiums, The Ballpark At Arlington being a prime example.

Kate Marie

Mike Schilling,

Since I never used the phrase "judicial activism," I don't get your point. I prefer the judicial philosophy of the "conservative" justices. Do I agree with their every opinion? No. Do I think they are right wing authoritarians out to abridge my rights? No, and I don't see any proof in the opinions and decisions to support that claim.

Dear David Parsons,

Do you support the United Nations? If so, there is very little that you can do to convince me that you're not just another pro-torture, pro-genocide Evil Internationalist apologist. One of those things would be to publically repudiate the Evil Internationalists and swear not to support or vote for any candidate who pledges to continue to recognize the legitmacy of a group that 1) excludes one of the most populous democratic countries in the world; 2) has a troubling history of anti-Semitism; 3) has miserably failed to prevent the horrors of Srebenica, Rwanda, and Darfur. My money says that you wont.

Love and kisses,

Evil Pro-Torture Apologist

David Parsons

Which political party contains the Evil Internationalists(tm) you're talking about? Currently, the US representative to the UN is an EP member, and as you may have noticed I'm not particularly shy about criticizing that party.

I've already loudly denounced the UN for allowing Srebenica to happen; by the time the Rwandan massacre came around I aimed my fury at the United States for not stepping in, because I'd already written off the UN because of exhibit (a) [and, yes, I do admit this was a mistake because it ended up further concentrating power in the office of the President, which meant that when the coup happened in 2000 the tyrant had yet another precedent that he could take advantage of.]

I'm not really sure what I can do to further "denounce" the UN, aside from joining the EP, then ceremonially ripping up my Elephant Card(tm) because the Bolton-of-the-week is more interested in getting support for an attack on Iran than in supporting human rights in the Sudan.

But that's not really relevant here. I've told you a way that you can demonstrate that you are opposed to the EP's pro-torture policies, and when you followed up by frantically dodging you pretty much admitted that you are not opposed in to them, at least not to any point where you're going to actually do anything about it.

And that proves the original point.

Kate Marie

David Parsons,

You imagine that "loudly denouncing the U.N." represents doing something about it? How quaint.

So here goes . . . I, Evil Pro-Torture Apologist, hereby loudly denounce -- LOUDLY, do you hear? -- all acts of human depravity and murder, and I refuse to support any person or system which directly or indirectly countenances such acts.

Repent! Prepare ye the way of the Morally Pristine Saint David!

I will now retire to my hermit cave to gnaw on locusts and congratulate myself on my moral purity.

Noli me tangere, bub.

Spike

David: I'll take your bet! I repudiate the Republicans for their pro-torture stand, and the Democrats for letting them get away with it!

I will never vote for a Republican or a Democrat as long as I live.

All of the innocent blood spilled in the name of the United States this century has been at the behest of both the Republican and the Democratic Parties.

Americans across the board are so freaking stupid they'd rather elect some loser who is slightly less bad than the other loser, just so the one they don’t like doesn’t get into office.

Americans only choose one of three ways to vote.

1. I like Candidate A, because she’s from my Party.
2. I don’t like Candidate B because I don’t want the Other Party to win (even though I don’t really like candidate A).
3. I don’t really like Candidate A or B, but because A is 20% for what I want and B is only 10% for what I want, I’ll vote for A.

Most Americans (who bother) usually end up making choice 3. The trouble, as you can see, is that most of the time people for something they DON’T want.

Someone above pointed out that Lance’s article would be just as coherent if all the references were to Democrats – and you know it’s true. Being among the “party faithful” is not an illness borne only by Republicans, as this blog shows quite well.

My challenge to David, and Kate Marie and the entire United States, is to repudiate ALL candidates who support torture, killing of innocents, seizure of private land, toppling duly elected governments of sovereign nations, doing business with totalitarian regimes, and/or corporate welfare.

“We can’t do that,” you’d say, “There’d be no one left!” While not really a bad thing, this is not true. What would happen is that the political parties, in order to survive, would start fielding moral humans as their candidates.

"Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." -- Frederick Douglass

jillbryant

Kate Marie -
I looked over what you wrote. I've written up talking points many times (I am not a political marketer but that is pretty basic) so, yes, I am very familiar with what the phrase means. Those Democratic talking points? Once again, pretty funny.

Since you had not elaborated on your key issues, and they were what led you to vote Republican (even for this administration) I assumed you were in agreement with their take. Since the Republicans are very careful about framing, very rarely is someone out of lockstep (unless, it is to show that momentary maverick posturing that will not affect the general outcome - or their funding) so I do know THEIR viewpoint. Feel free to elaborate where you differ.

BTW - I noticed you put "war on terror" in quotes. Yes, we're all waiting to find out what the new wording is going to be. Smart, isn't it? If it's no longer a war, we can't be losing it.

I haven't seen any answers to the questions I asked. I was just curious. In reading more of your comments, I can see we disagree quite firmly - not necessarily in all goals, but definitely how to achieve them.

Funny you are such a big fan of Lolita. I don't think you ever would've gotten to read it in the US you would like us to become.

Kate Marie

Jill Bryant,

Being against abortion is not a talking point, and agreeing with the Republican party position on abortion or school choice are not talking points. A position is not a "talking point." A talking point is a hackneyed, pre-packaged sound bite that gets amplified by partisan pundits (of all stripes)in the media. Seriously, Jill, *do* you think that anyone who agrees with Republicans on certain issues is a victim of brainwashing and anyone who agrees with the Democrats is a clear-eyed visionary? You haven't really answered my question. You just keep repeating the fact that you're "in marketing," as though that explains everything. It's almost as if that's your talking point. :)

And you claim that almost no Republican is allowed to be "out of lockstep" with the Republican platform. Um, can you name a prominent Democratic politician who is out of lockstep with the Democratic party on abortion?

"Funny you are such a big fan of Lolita. I don't think you ever would've gotten to read it in the US you would like us to become."

-- That's called a non sequitur, a little phrase I learned at Talking Points Academy.

jillbryant

KM - Sorry - I apparently was not explaining myself clearly.

I asked you some specific questions to see how you analyzed the same information I had -- and then came to a different conclusion. I assumed you were intelligent and that it would be interesting. For example - Sandra Day O'Connor and her Georgetown speech. What did you think when she said "We must be ever-vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary," etc. I thought it was an amazing speech from a judge I didn't always agree with (a Reagan appointee, after all) but one I certainly respected. I wanted to know if you would dismiss her as an activist judge. (Big Republican T.P., BTW) There were other questions I asked for the same reason that you've also ignored. No prob. I was just curious.

Funny - you did a great job describing a Bushco T.P."...hackneyed, pre-packaged sound bite that gets amplified by partisan pundits (of all stripes)in the media..." which is why everyone is so derisive of "Republican Talking Points." Which also made my point about "lockstep." Since the phraseology (aka framing) and repetition is so crucial to delivering their message, the Bush Admin does need to repeat the same, exact pre-packaged sound bite over and over. Do not deviate. It's effective but boring. But, TP's are just ideas, positions, facts, yes, and phrases, that you want to make sure to get across for whatever goal (say branding) in whatever time alloted (say a 20-min radio interview).

I understand being against abortion in itself is not a talking point but the issues you listed as most important are so standard Bushco fare (there are a lot of important issues out there that Bushco never mentions)that I've got to assume your take on it will just be a regurgitation of theirs and then they become, well, see above paragraph. But, if you say that's not true, I already said it'd be good to hear you elaborate your differences.

And, if it proves something to you, sure, Jimmy Carter is against abortion.

Re: Lo lee ta - That seemed like a non sequitur to you, huh? Without going through the insane list of changes that find favor with Bushco conservatives (I'll just mention that A-OK torture thing), and the direction they would like to push this country, do you think a book told from the point-of-view of a pedophile would not soon be on their hit list?

As for how I feel about someone who still supports THIS administration? Sure, I thought I would be polite for conversation's sake but let me try answering the question. This administration has had so many examples of poor and failed leadership that the only ones left supporting them are the incredible self-serving (yes - some to the point of evil) and those that are being marketed to. Did I say brainwashed? I'm surprised because I don't think of this marketing as brainwashing - it's not that laborious. It's just playing to their target audience's fear and vanity. Do I think Democrats are all clear-eyed visionaries? Nope.

Kate Marie

Jill Bryant,

You seem like a nice person, but why are you trying to prove to me what's in *my* heart? What if I made some argument along these lines: "those liberals vote Democrat because they're hypnotized by all those talking points that appeal to their moral and intellectual vanity, and what's more, most of them have issues with Daddy that they tend to displace, in grandiose adolescent fashion, onto authority figures in general, and thus they end up identifying, at least on an emotional level, with the enemies of our country." Should I be proud of myself for my "reasoning," do you think? How is your argument any different?

"Without going through the insane list of changes that find favor with Bushco conservatives (I'll just mention that A-OK torture thing), and the direction they would like to push this country, do you think a book told from the point-of-view of a pedophile would not soon be on their hit list?"

Does that strike you as the most airtight argument to be made here? The mildest answer I can offer you is I don't know, but since "Bushco" has no record of trying to ban books, I sincerely doubt it. Is there some record of book-banning from "Bushco" that I've been too blinded by Republican talking points to be aware of?

In any event, yes, that "point" about Lolita was technically a non sequitur.

I would also very gently point out to you that while you've used the term "Buscho," and warned in vaguely conspiracy-theory-esque tones about Rove and Luntz, I *haven't* used the term "judicial activism" (except to point out to someone else that I haven't used the term "judicial activism) nor any other Republican talking point. Does it occur to you that the term "Buscho," for instance, and the emphasis on Rove, and the suggestion that Republicans are all merely spewing the Republican "T.P.s" are *themselves* talking points?

P.S. I'll see you Jimmy Carter and raise you Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Your bid. I think you should save yourself the trouble of bluffing and fold, though. Do you really think there are more prominent Democrats who are out of lockstep with the Democratic platform on abortion than there are prominent Republicans who are out of lockstep with their party's platform?

Mike Schilling

Since I never used the phrase "judicial activism," I don't get your point.

Then it's clear I wasn't talking about you in particular. The fact that I didn't use your name also suggests this.

Ed D.

You know, in reading through these heady comments (admittedly hoping for a response to mine - sadly not to be found)I can't help thinking that the problem here is that both positions are correct. There are those in the Republican Party who make decisions and vote based on the talking points presumably designed by Rove et al. These folks (let's call them group A) will not enter into discussions with liberals, or anyone, that reach beyond endlessly repeating those pre-packaged talking points. But then there are those (group B) who have indeed throught through the positions of the party, filtered them through their knowledge base and personal moral structure. These folks (group B) are fun to discuss politics with because they know what they are talking about. The same thing goes for the democrats. I imagine the ratio falls, as so many things do, under Paredo's 80%/20% law. That is, 20% know what they are talking about and have fed the information through their personal wisdom matrix - while 80% only want to reinforce their tribal memberships by learning the buzz words and dropping them at the coffee machine during mid-morning break.

As with so many things here in western civilization we are limited by thinking there are only two points of view. I understand this goes back to the Greeks and their philosophies of either/or-ness. But it is not helped by a President who is fond of telling us we are either for him or against him. He doesn't seem to want to recognize those who favor a more nuanced and thought out point of view on just about anything. And that pisses people off... just like having someone assume they have the right to assign you a nickname pisses people off.

Kate Marie

Ed D.,

I wholeheartedly agree with at least the first paragraph of your comment (and perhaps with part of the second, though I could wish people would get Bush's exact quote right, in any event).

I just find it a bit ironic to be repeatedly told that I'm a repository of Bushco talking points (not by you) in the comments section of a left-leaning blog of which I am an almost daily reader (along with Crooked Timber and Cliopatria and a couple of others), and on which I have been a fairly respectful commenter.

I have reread your first comment, and I hope to respond further later tonight. For now, I'll say that I think you've completely mischaracterized the conservative movement, especially its incarnation during the Reagan years. Reagan's respect for the free market was not an exhortation to go forth and sin; it was a recognition that the free market, coupled with liberal democracy, is the system most consistent with a particular vision of individual liberty. That doesn't make the Reaganites radical individualists, as they were certainly willing to criticize individual moral choices; they were reluctant to regulate them, however, except in cases where other people's rights or liberty were being infringed. That's all very cursory, though, and I hope to say more later.

I'll note, too, that the Reagan era saw the rise of "neo-conservatism," which, for all the ignorance with which it is treated by people across the political spectrum, was/is a serious intellectual movement that provided a real philosophical and sociological underpinning to Republican policy of those years.

Ed D.

Kate,

I was once a conservative. I think it was in my early twenties. I happened to read three books right together: Conscience of a Conservative, The Liberal Hour and, Mill's On Liberty. I believed in the rightness of individuality then. But over the years and reading stuff like DeToqueville, Darwin, Adam Smith and even that last paragraph of Ed Rickett's marine biology book I've come to temper that sense of individuality with a somewhat greater sense of community. To borrow a title, to compromise somewhere between rambo and the dalai lama - but more to the dalai lama side of things. In conversations with economic conservatives though I've usually found a fairly warped sense of what a free market economy really is. The most drastic of those is one of complete un-regulation - a law of the jungle economy. I find that as unworkable as removing the rules from football, or baseball. I fall back on Adam Smith and the base tenets of a free market - easy entry and exit, many buyers and sellers, perfectly disseminated information. In business, as in nature, there tends to be a rising of despotism - that is, someone will rise to the top and then dominate - in this case, markets. The strong competition of a young marketplace fades as it matures - not in all markets, but in most. What needs to be put in place to preserve competitiveness is some sort of countervailing power. In most cases that is some sort of government regulation. The elemental resistance to regulation I find in most conservative doctrine turns out to be then, anti-free market. Even Hayek talks about the danger of markets being controlled by either government or too few corporate competitors.

The corrollary to this, and one of the reasons I think Reagan did great harm to this country is that he defined government, those who would regulate business, to be some sort of 'other,' some 'them'. The U.S. Government, by every ideal of liberal democracy I know, is not 'them' but 'us'. When we start thinking of our government as some independent entity over which we have limited control, we have already surrendered our freedom. That a president would promote such an idea is, well, extremely odd. I take this from Reagan's oft repeated maxim to 'get government off business back.' I remember wondering what the... he wants to get me of business' back and let them do whatever it is they want to do? But they only want to make money and have no moral or ethical sense at all (rightly so I might add, for their purposes to the community). Why would I turn the reins of the community over to them without any kind of oversight? See, I'm one of those who don't think incorporate entities should have 14th amendment rights... quite because they have no moral/ethical sense of their own.

Anyway, this has gotten a bit long - my kids are up at the library for a little while (love that it's just up at the corner). Over the years, as hard as it is, I've come to believe more in the power of community to do good (love thy neighbor, etc.) than in that of individuals who tend to the 'survival of the fittest' model .

In nature it seems to work better too. I believe in community action to make all our lives better - to raise us up from poverty and ignorance. In America the most powerful embodiment of the community is our Government - all of us working together with a system agreed upon to help us make non-violent decisions. It seems to me that individuals, especially driven by the current conservative model which is, to me, a rogue kind of individuality stressing a virulent survivalist ethic, tend to be interested only in the survival of themselves and fail to see that we are all interconnected and will rise or fall together. To put it in terms of Adam Smith, our self-interest is greatly tied to the interests of those in the society around us. For instance, if we fail to educate the poor, they will reproduce and eventually dominate us. But if we expend the time, effort and expense to educate them they will rise up and join the effort to reach ever higher levels of civilization.

jillbryant

Ed.D. -
This is really pretty beautiful...Glad your kids were away.

Kate Marie

Ed D.,

I agree with much of what you say. I'm certainly not a radical Libertarian (though I'm libertarian on some issues, I suppose), but neither, I would argue, were Reagan and his movement. Where you and the Reaganites would most disagree, I think, is in your claim that the "the most powerful embodiment of our community is our Government." That conflation of community and government is actually very un-Tocquevillian, since De Tocqueville believed that "buffering institutions" -- private organizations which mediated between the individual and the state -- were indispensable to the life of a democracy. It is more often in such institutions that the values of the community get defined, and the state fulfills its proper function by refraining from interfering, except in extraordinary circumstances.

I share your belief in the importance of community, and I certainly believe that a community should have a sense of shared values, as well as a proper respect for "the social good" and a -- how shall I put it? -- non-Libertarian idea of what constitutes harm. And I agree that a too-extreme respect for the marketplace can have a negative effect on the community. That said, though, I think it's easier to be a heretic about free market economics in the Republican party than it is to be a heretic about social issues in the Democratic party.

I mean, what if I came to the Democrats saying, "Look, I agree that some regulation of the market is required, and I agree that the government can, to a limited extent, embody the values of the community. Let's figure out what the government can actually do to provide opportunities to the poor and disadvantaged. I'm also concerned, though, about the toxicity of our culture and its effect on children, who are increasingly bombarded by pernicious images and themes. Take, for instance, the 'porn chic' window displays and billboards that are inescapable unless I want to retreat to the cloister with my children. Can we talk about some of that stuff, too, please?"

Are they going to welcome me with open arms or are they going to laugh me out of the joint, patting each other on the back for their enlightened views and sneering at me as a hypocritical scold as I make my way out the door?

Gaijin Biker

About 10 years ago I looked into this and at that time there had been 133 cases of wrongful execution since the 1930s. The 133 is the right number but I may be off on the 'since the 1930s'... might be the 1920s. In either case it's way too much.

Sources? Links? Names?

Ed d.

Gajin Biker,

I looked and no longer have the reference. Sorry.

Kate,

Toxicity of our Culture. My take on it is this: We are, culturally, who we tell ourselves we are. That is, we pass culture, morals and ethics on to our children through the medium of story. I still remember the ones that were formative in my youth. Shane, a book my 10 year old just read, was one of them that gave me the idea of a sort of stoic hard work ethic and the value of family. When I’m working in the garden on hot summer days I still flash on Shane and Joe Starrett defeating that old stump in the yard – and then sharing the last biscuit over it – biscuits Marion had baked to be part of the endeavor. It was a family working hard together and then settling into the afterglow of it with strong and enduring bonds formed. That’s just one of the stories.

We have to ask where/what are the stories now and what is their purpose. Unfortunately the far and away most influential source of stories for our kids nowadays is TV. And the purpose of the stories is not to pass on culture (although it attends to the task) but to provide the largest audience possible for the advertising that pops up every few minutes. They are medicine shows… pretty girls, wild stories with violence… everything calculated to draw the largest number of viewers – by appealing to the lowest common denominator of interest. Sex and violence, judgement and punishment. We have turned our story machine over to the world of commerce to use it for the purposes of making money. There are exceptions for sure, my kids being some of them I hope, who read rather than watch TV endlessly. But they are in the minority. Why is this so? Free Market economics applied to the airwaves that you and I collectively own. They are passed on to commerce to use as they will. It used to be that one of the requirements of and FCC charter was a not for profit attendance to the news. That’s passed on and even the news is now a profit center and so must be entertaining first and informative only secondarily.

So are the stories we want to tell our kids, about working hard, telling the truth, having patience with each other, putting off consumption until a later date, things like that, now what get told? Nope. If the purpose of the story is to drive comsumption, the underlying purpose would be, and is, to create the sense of an immediate need and the will to be impatient and go fill that need. It’s ok to lie to get what you want – even the cops do it. The impulse of the commercial world is to get us to impatiently buy stuff. The needs of a healthy community are those of patience and understanding – of cooperation – of waiting. The commercial world tells us to fight for our hierarchical status within the group – the community ethic tells us to get along with others regardless of status. The stories of how we want to raise our kids, pass on a good cultural rootstock, are at odds with the stories that benefit the commercial world of promoting high levels of consumption.

It used to be that business was local. If the business acted unethically or even distastefully the owners were there, walking down the street in the community, and social approval or disapproval could be applied to keep the business ethical – the townsfolk could shun them in church on Sunday. My favorite good guy community businessman was a fellow named John Patterson who built and ran the National Cash Register Corporation up in Dayton, Ohio. He lived in the community and did things like turning his factory over to the making of boats when the great flood hit in 1927 – and turned the workers out to help too, on full wages. He instituted separate facilities, lunch rooms and napping areas, for pregnant women who worked on the floor. Lots of other things. He walked to work from his house just a few blocks away. But now the ownership is not local. In fact, most ownership is by mutual funds and is so fragmented that no one takes responsibility for community involvement/action at all. Leveraged buyouts of the Reagan era are part of what separated owners from their factories. Not blaming Reagan here except in the way that a leader tacitly influences an era. In early America, pre-fourteenth amendment, corporations were limited to 20 or 30 year charters and that was it. Corporations could not own other corporations. The owner/s had to live where the corporation operated. Charter review was yearly and stringent and renewal based on what the corporation did for the community. Yes, as with the constitution, the early founders were scared to death of concentrated power – whether it be governmental or corporate – so they limited it severely.

So who is responsible and who can abate the lowering of our culture to its baser elements. I vote for the guys who write the checks. There is a sensibility in the free market ethos that the marketplace will mediate everything (including community standards) and so nothing ought to be done to rein them in. Well, it doesn’t work that way – at least not anymore since ownership is not local or even known (mutual funds again.) The free market only promises to give us the best products at the lowest prices. It does nothing else. So it would seem the point of pressure would be those who actually write the checks to put this stuff out there. Can it be done that way? Back when O.J. was on trial the head of Proctor and Gamble decided he’d had enough of all the O.J. newsbreaks. He declared that he would pull advertising from any show (the soaps, etc.) that included those newsbreaks. Guess what. They were gone the very next day. These guys can do it. How can pressure be brought to get these guys to do this? The first thing would be for a President, like Bush, to say we’ve had enough of this junk and admit the free market doesn’t handle cultural story very well. Use high level community pursuation. Review of corporate charters is another way. But first there has to be a sea change in the notion of what free markets will and won’t do – what they’re good for and what they aren’t. It’s like a horse pulling a wagon. We want that horse to work hard and move us on. For that purpose, to pull our national wagon forward, we want their ethic to be one of making money and not much else. But we must steer that horse a bit so the wagon goes where we want it to go. Otherwise the horse will head out into the field and eat all the seed corn growing there. Ok, not a perfect analogy. What I’m trying to say is that we should turn business loose to do what it does well, but not expect it to do what it has no concern to do – tell our kids the stories we want them to hear or help create the culture and civilization we want.

And just a final word on Reagan. I see him as sincere but misguided. I actually have a fair amount of respect and admiration for him. But his flaw was that he saw the glory of the short term and was blind to the long term. He was sort of like that Col. Nicholson in "Bridge Over the River Kwai.” Nicholson saved his men in the prisoner of war camp by organizing them and giving them a purpose – building that railroad bridge for the Japanese. He succeeded in his short term goal. Only at the end, when William Holden comes to blow it up, does he realize that he has sacrificed the greater goal to the lesser one. Raising up our community, culture and civilization are our greater goals. Business is an integral part of it. In fact business is an indispensible part. But cannot be the defining part – its singular impulse of making money is not suited for it. Reagan weighted it too heavily (get government (us) off business’ back) and in doing so, gave our culture over to it. There are lots of other similar indicators but - well, enough for now.

Kate Marie

Ed D.

I appreciate your thoughtful response, but you haven't really addressed what was one of the main points, or questions, of my previous comment.

Here's a point you make that I agree with: "What I’m trying to say is that we should turn business loose to do what it does well, but not expect it to do what it has no concern to do – tell our kids the stories we want them to hear or help create the culture and civilization we want."

-- What I'm saying, though, is that I find the Republican party actually a more congenial place to hold this view than the Democratic party. What is implied in your statement is the idea that we must decide, as a community, the stories we want our children to hear and the culture and civilization we want to create. One of the problems with the Democratic platform, in my opinion, is that it seems simultaneously willing to dictate how everyone's money ought to be spent, presumably for the sake of the the greater good of the community (and leaving aside the question of the efficacy of government programs to effect the changes it wants to effect) and *extremely reluctant* to engage in a discussion about community standards and the kind of culture we want to create in any way that remotely approaches a set of normative principles, or even in any way that suggests that local communities should have some leeway (within the limits provided by the constitution) in deciding for themselves how they would answer those questions.

P.S. While we could debate about whether Reagan took the long view in the area of economics and domestic policy, I think it's clear that he did so in the area of foreign policy at a time when many historians of the late seventies and early eighties were declaring the Soviet Union viable and stable for the forseeable future.

Ed D.

Kate,

Sorry if I missed your point and question. I thought you were interested in discussing the toxicity of our culture vis our kids – a topic of great interest in that I have two kids, 10 and 8, and am in the midst of dealing with their schooling and the affect of our culture upon them.

I think we all want the same things but go about getting them in different ways. And in the end it may all be just personality differences. The main tack of the Republicans seems to be a Survival of the Fittest anthem. The current public face of it would be the Ownership Society. While Survival of the Fittest is a correct way of looking at things, there is a better way… which is, We’re All In This Together. It’s an old testament/new testament kind of thing and I think We’re All In This Together holds the greatest truth and the greatest reward, both morally and economically (last 60 years proves this one). It is the more civilized way, transcending the law of the jungle. We’re All In This Together is the anthem of the Democrats. Are we the kind of people who are inclusive or exclusive? Do we look for the good in all or do we affirm only those like ourselves?

The apocryphal moment for me was watching George HW Bush when he was campaigning against Clinton and Gore. It was close to election day. He unabashedly, and with a smirk on his face, called Clinton ‘bozo’ and Gore ‘ozone.’ Playground bully behavior. If that’s the level of discussion Republicans favor then I don’t want to be one. My actual immediate thought was, “if that’s what he thinks of two men who have risen high in their chosen work, then what must he think of me?” GWB in his penchant for nicknaming folks shows the same hierarchical, status driven disregard for good folks. Although I must add that I had the same kind of moment when GWB was in his first presidential campaign and came to the church where I grew up… Rep. Rob Portman goes there. Accompanying GWB into the sanctuary were his SS guys with automatic weapons under their coats… too eff’n much. He totes guns to church. These are the men that Republicans put forward as their best of the best and supposedly the models of what we want America to be like. Sorry, I teach my kids not to do this kind of thing and I expect a higher level of behavior from ‘the best of the best’.

It is this same kind of right wing name calling that has turned ‘liberal’ into a dirty word. Liberal is not a dirty word, it is a valid point of view. It is not communism nor devilish. For comparison’s sake, the word ‘Conservative’ has not been equally ‘epithetized’ or ‘demonized’ by the left. I do not find the same levels of childish behaviors coming from the left as I do the right – both in quality (dismissive derrogation usually linked to animal sounds like braying, howling, etc.) and decidedly in quantity (compare listenership and ratings). I would quickly add, KM, that I find you personally to be none of that – and I enjoy the back and forth with you – honest, open discussion of thoughtful beliefs.

But on a higher plane, I think our American treasure and wealth should be spread around. It is pragmatic. It works better than concentrated wealth. Why? Aggregate demand is both higher and much more stable. Look at the business cycle since the rise of unions and social legislation (spreading of wealth – last 60 years) – it has greatly calmed down – and America has enjoyed the longest and most stable rise in its economic fortunes ever. It is a strategy that we basically stumbled across but that has become historically proven. Besides, it’s fun to be nice to the unlucky. As for the usual complaint that higher taxes stunt incentive – it’s a misreading of incentive. We work for relative status which is not necessarily in terms of wealth. In fact I sincerely hope we don’t measure personal worth in terms of wealth… we miss much of what is good in life by doing so. And besides, it is an eternal truism that high school boys don’t quit trying just because the girls don’t reward them – they don’t get de-incentivized, they try harder. And what are businessmen but high-school boys in suits and ties. (Business women work the same status-driven way, but the high school boy analogy is more fun.)

I also believe in the balancing of powers… the necessity of countervailing power to arrive at the best solutions for everyone. Politically this is what the American constitution is all about and it is the root of our greatness. Economically it is about we the people using our concerted efforts (our government) to balance the powers of commerce. Commerce, in its single minded pursuit of short term profits (because bonuses are based on quarterly and yearly returns, not 5 year, 10 year), will eat our seed corn to feed its appetite. Nothin’ personal, that’s what they’re supposed to do – but it’s also why we need to provide the countervailing power. The toxic cultural envelope is a result of commerce run wild for short term results – we’ll teach everyone to be impatient about consuming and never you mind that it also teaches them to be impatient about learning and impatient about warring.

As for moral leadership? Well, you can’t get much more immoral that going to war on trumped up or selective intelligence. A doctrine of preemtive self-defense is a bully’s doctrine. It depends on perfect or at least near-perfect intelligence and that is an impossibility. Now we have this bully’s war… feeding Americans into an endless meat-grinder. Bush blithly opened pandora’s box and now challenges Democrats to put forward their plan to get all the devils back inside and shut the lid. Well, as he unendingly reminds us, he is the leader, he is the decider – what is his plan to end this debacle? He dosen’t have one. Yet in his unending hubris and as a childish effort to deflect attention away from himself, he challenges others to come up with one.

You want to know why I don’t like Bush? Because he’s a moral coward. He dresses himself up in a thin façade of morality (anti-abortion and anti-gays) while committing the much more grave sins of war and destruction. And then he nicknames people… I hate that.

ps - KM, You and I seem to be the only ones talking here - if you want to continue this offline feel free to email me. It's easier than typing in this little box.

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