A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Blue State Values

In the interval since the Democratic defeat I have kept a close eye on those favorite blogs of mine which were George W. Bush's stauchest partisans, particularly those who style themselves truly "liberal" or "moderate" and, supposedly, rejected the Democratic Party, and its candidate, with reluctance.

What I note in reading them is that while there may have been a Democratic defeat, there certainly has not been a Republican victory. True victors should care much less about the opinions of the vanquished than these do. I make no bones about it, I think these "victors" rank fools. They have given electoral endorsement to objective and massive failures of public policy.

But I will remark in addition that they seem awfully thin-skinned about what I think. Could it be a hint of Buyer's Remorse? Maybe they should ask Arlen Specter for his opinion.

I think that most of we "vanquished" are in agreement on this, that the "moderates" who flocked to George W. Bush from the Pied Piper call of "Who's YOUR DADDY that keeps you safe from terrorism, abortion, and homosexuality?" are utter fools.

And, save for, perhaps, a few professional, or ex-profesional politicians who never think of anything but winning elections, most of us are willing to be quite blunt about what we think of the 51% who re-elected this President.

By 2006, of course, all our venting will be done and it will be time to close ranks with the professionals and start working on the Buyer's Remorse. But, for now, our venting is very healthy. I think we should be getting under the very thin skins of the "victors", preparing them for the message that the government which they re-elected is STILL massively incompetent, even when matters concern their own cherished principles.

They cannot fight wars intelligently, they have not stopped the spread of weapons of mass destruction effectively, they cannot find terrorists and put them in jail, they cannot legislate effectively even about their own pet issues, and their "leader" cannot pay attention to any single thing (except tax cuts) longer than fifteen minutes at a stretch.

By continuing to tell the foolish 51% of the country so for a while, and trying to tell them so intelligently, we are beginning, finally, to come to terms with our Blue State Values.

For we do really have them, and we should cleave to them, for they are REAL values and not mere moods. These values constitute a philosophy of government which is widely PROACTIVE in securing "the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity" rather than merely being reactive to the most gross and obvious of external threats.

The justifying concepts for such proactive, progressive, results oriented, government live in the Preamble of our Constitution: ensuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, and promoting the general welfare.

We Blue Stater's also have two rock-solid standards for securing the proper and just relation of government to the individual: "due process of law" and "the equal protection of the law".

From all of these, as a Liberal, I infer that there really does exist a broad "public interest", a commonweal that often requires setting legal limits to the private interests of specific individuals, parties, or factions. I also infer that these primary concepts justify limits to the license of any actions of private interest which interfere with the maintenance of a "level playing field" where the private interests of ALL of us compete in relative liberty. And I finally infer that proactive government is necessary to establish such a level playing field where it does not exist.

Those are my Blue State Values and this is the Blue State credo:

Proactive legal regulation, in the public interest, with end of fundamental fairness and justice, but restrained by the standards of due process of law and the equal protection of the law.

As a Liberal I believe that government has an obligation to be PROACTIVE to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”

I further believe that the way to govern justly, fairly, and effectively is to consider ALL the relevant facts relating to “promoting the general welfare” and not just the ones to which I am emotionally attached due to my beliefs about religion.

I also believe that we need to do so without “establishing” the Nicene Creed and its followers as the official religion of this country, either in law (which the First Amendment explicitly prohibits), or in fact by an officially promoted blurring of the distinction between the Christian Church and the United States Government or between "Christian moral values" and civil and criminal law.

I, finally, believe that no one should be “deprived of life, liberty, without due process of law” nor should anyone be denied “the equal protection of the law", that arrest and seizure shall ONLY take place “upon probable cause” to believe a crime has been committed, that the right of “haebus corpus” shall not be abridged, and the government shall not be permitted to hold anyone indefinitely without fair trial for genuine crimes.

I believe in all this. And you can distill what I believe into the following formula:

Liberty, Justice, Tolerance, Freedom of Thought, and Respect for Fact.

The tragedy of this last election centers around the last “Blue State Value” I just defined:

Respect for Fact.

I once watched Bill O’Riley tell an opponent on his program--who was presenting the facts to support his views--to shut up because what he was presenting were “liberal facts".

That is the best summary of the Conservative position on the real world that I have ever heard: no facts are relevant or material unless they curry my religous views, support my ideological stance, scratch my back, or make money for me and my friends.

Conservatives certainly have many strongly held beliefs, and they will usually deny categorically as “liberal facts” any real world consideration which contradicts them.

That’s why we folks on the other side, who have Blue State Values, call ourselves the “reality based community". The facts are what we wish our beliefs to address, whether they support those beliefs or not. And, we just might “flip-flop", now and then, to accomodate what the real world is actually doing.

The current Republican “mandate” will not be destroyed by what we Liberals do or don’t do. It will not be destroyed by what we Liberals say or don’t say. It will be destroyed by confrontation with the facts that just won't go away.

Like global warming, like growing poverty, like ballooning health insurance costs, like the inevitable downturn of the business cycle (look for it in 2006-7), and, yes, like Iranian nuclear weapons and Osama Bin Laden, both of which we had a chance to make go away and flubbed because of our government’s chronic Conservative disrespect for facts.

From a Liberal vantage point, the key thing for Democrats to do is to be patient. The massive budget deficits are not going to go away and everything (except judges) on the Republican menu is going to bring more revenue loss, or more expenditures, to the Government, and, therefore, more borrowing. Except for the judges, none of it should be fillabustered but all of it should be fought procedurally, and voted against, for the record.

The official "recovery" began in 2001. It will have to last as long as the Clinton recovery (eight years, the longest in American history) to cushion a candidate in 2008. There will be no slack in the money markets, and no relative quietude in fuel prices, which extended the Clinton recovery for so long.

The pressure on the dollar from the borrowing, both governmental and private, is likely to become intolerable and the Republicans will be forced to devalue, sending prices spiralling, and forcing the Fed to tighten rates against the inflation despite the downturn.

The crash, when it comes (not if, when) will be brutal. We will see then how many good Red State folks like eating their "moral values" for breakfast or watching the "privatized" portion of their Social Security vanish into thin air.

Moreover, the military mess is NOT going to go away. The Neocon international agenda will force the reliance on conscription to "democratize" the Middle East. This is a mere matter of arithmatic. Eighty percent of our active combat forces are already committed to this task as it stands. To do any more of it, we need more troops. No smoke and mirrors and predator drones of the Rumsfeld Pentagon will make the multiplication table vanish.

Nor will casualties diminish wherever the "WOT" is being fought. Five hundred killed and 4000 maimed a year is the probable baseline. It has already begun to make the Red States run red with blood (they do tend to produce more military volunteers--its part, and an admirable part by the way, of Red State Values). By 2008 it will be 3000 dead and 24,000 maimed.

Health care will not get fixed. Nobody on the Republican side is interested enough in it--when it reaches 30% of an average person's income and 100 million of us have no insurance, you'll see some notice taken of it in the Red States. Nor will illegal immigration be solved--the Spanish speaking immigrant underclass working for criminally low wages will be officially sanctioned and registered as "guest workers" with no corresponding attention to the well-being of the English speaking middle classes.

Everything George W. Bush has done and everything he wants to do will place ever increasing strain on the fundamental sources of wealth and well being in this country. Sooner or later they will crack. This will not be pleasant, nor is it to be applauded. But if 51% insist that the sugar bowl be filled with arsenic in the subline belief that any white crystals will sweeten tea, all that 48% of us can do is say, "No sugar, thank you." and "Cheers!"

When the facts finally accumulate to the point that they MUST be acknowledged, only those that respect them will be left standing.


Blogger The Anchoress said...

As long as you continue to call 51% of the nation 'foolish' and talk down to them, you'll get exactly nowhere. I have family members who are still loyal Democrats and they have no idea how snobbish they sound, simpering on about the 'foolish' ones.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

Well, at this point, Anchoress, there is nothing to persuade anyone about. There will be no Democratic agenda on the table for at least four years. And there are two broad possibilities for the Republican agenda.

First, it might be as effective in genuinely changing things in the next four years in America, as it has been in the last four years, that is to say, not very effective at all.

There are compelling reasons to suspect this might happen, from the President's slow personal pace of work to the legislative incoherence of a Republican Congress wasting time on a Defense of Marriage Amendment that would require 2/3 of both Houses to pass, instead of real bills that could easily pass with the current majorities.

Second, the Republican President and Congresional Majority will finally find their sea legs, and actually begin to transform America into the vision that they truly have for it, with shrewd legislation the Democrats cannot stop.

In either case the Democrats' task will to present an alternative vision for America when enough time has passed to see where America goes from here. At the moment, there is nothing to present.

My belief is that the slow, but steady, deterioration of middle and lower class life in this country since 1999 will continue unabated: more people underemployed, more people under pressure from rising fuel costs, more people living in poverty, more people with friends or relatives killed abroad for no tangible result, and more people with less health insurance as costs continue to spiral out of control.

Then the sharp economic downturn of the business cycle will tie it all together.

If this does occur, I think a lot of people will finally be truly open to persuasion, who I don't think were this time around.

All it would take would be 3% more.

3:32 PM  
Blogger ironcross11 said...

I'll agree with you that the economy could have a very hard road ahead. But that is because of the amount of private and public money that is being dumped into domestic security. It makes 200B for Iraq into a pittance. Just trying to protect ourselves from the "religion of peace"...

But you think if George Bush wasn't President that some how Gore or Kerry would have discouraged Iran from pursuing nukes? You have got to be kidding! The Mullahs built the preponderence of the facilities while Clinton was president. Your world view might need some re-view. The Arabs, Persians, Turks, Uzbeks, Pashtuns and other Middle Eastern and Eurasian Islamics are proud peoples. This is well demonstrated in their traditions with respect to insults and revenge. They greatly resent that an inferior people with an inferior God (or no God) can be so powerful. Generally, even moderate Muslims do not respect infidels. Extremist Arabs are fully indoctrinated bigots that believe themselves to be superior in ethnicity, culture and religion. Because the moderate and extremist Muslims consider us to be "less" in the sense of a common humanity, they do not feel obliged to respect treaties with us. These influences when wrapped up together and fanned with a breeze of poverty (which shiara perpetuates) create a fanatical hatred untempered by anything that resembles reason or humanity-humaneness. They consider our very existence an abomination before Allah. The Shiara specifically acknowleges the moral grounds for guile and deception when dealing with non-believers. These feelings did not generate from the "War on Terror", the displaced arab situation in Isreal or even in the last 500 years. They go way back.

Pakistan has a bomb. Where was the leftward whining on Clintons watch?
Where was the concern when Mme Albright gave North Korea the technology for their bomb? Oops - Missed that! So much for a straight shot of politics.

If you think the EU or anyone else is going to get the Mullahs to cease work on a bomb using anything but force, you obviously have spent no time in the Middle East or Saharan Africa. In that part of the world, diplomacy is only the means to deliver an ultimatum.

3:54 PM  
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