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.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Whither Politics?

We are back to another silly season. There are many things I could write about in politics, but the overall sum of them is simply a bore; a worse bore, in fact, than the recent runaway bride story which the press has been flogging to death.

The Bloggers, particularly on the conservative side of the house, are full of themselves about being bloggers and, therefore, the end of traditional media as we know it. And on the liberal side of the house they are priding themselves as being "netroots" and, therefore, the end of traditional politics as we know it.

A North Carolina pastor has run parishioners out of his church for being Democrats, calling on them to "repent" their political views.

The State of Kansas is poised on the brink of ratifying "creationism" as science in its school curriculum, despite the fact that "creationism" has never yielded a jot of new scientific knowledge about anything. People are constantly asking, What's The Matter With Kansas? There is even a book title by that same name. But the answer is simple, nothing is the matter with Kansas that is not the matter with North Carolina, or anywhere else in America.

What Kansas does or does not do about this will not alter the process or the progress of science one jot. At most it will merely make young Kansans even more ignorant about real science than the majority of American children already are; or American adults for that matter. Were they not so woefully ignorant of what science really is, the whole issues of "creationism" as science would never even come up.

America is simply bedeviled by the ranting of religious lunatics with no sense of balance, proportion, and common sense, lunatics who are a shrinking minority within this country and will become even more of a minority as the decades pass. The demographics are solidly against them.

The United States Congress is tangled up with that ranting and barely able to do serious business, though since the Schiavo Affair proved to be such a dud with the general public, there are some signs of common sense returning there.

Tom DeLay and the House Republicans are quietly wiping the ethics egg off their faces and waiting for the other shoe to drop in Texas when DeLay is finally indicted there. There is also some reason to wonder now about how much the progress of the DeLay ethics stink will eventually involve the White House. Nothing definite yet, but the hint of, perhaps, something to come.

Bill Frist didn't get the implications of the Schiavo Affair quickly enough (he is no Jeb Bush, who quite intelligently turned on a dime once he saw the polls) and has made a dammed fool of himself over the filibuster issue by playing footsie with the lunatics. He doesn't have the votes for the "nuclear option". If he did he would have pulled the trigger weeks ago. Harry Reid has outmaneuvered him on this one at every turn.

George Bush hasn't got the implications on Social Security at all. His long running traveling salvation show--playing in venues across the country to audiences of pre-selected shills--actually reduced the public's support for his position and his own standing in the polls. But the President is never wrong and responsible to no one, right? He doesn't have the votes for "privatization" and indexing of benefits to income, any more than Frist does for the nuclear option. Not that that bothers him--he will simply order it done and the Congress will cooperate, no matter what the public thinks.


As Laura Bush recently said in jest, Mr. Excitement really does go to sleep by 9 pm and doesn't get the implications of "Desperate Housewives"--or of anything else for that matter.

Tony Blair got awakened with a cold slap in the face by the historic third time victory of his Labor Party in the British elections. Put that way, in plain English, the facts are simply breathtaking. No one in the 24th century will ever be able to make heads or tails of what I just wrote. Three cheers to the Brits (who are not really bedeviled with religious lunatics, thank heavens!) for the certainty of their moral compass and their rejection of the smarmy shenanigans that got them involved in the Iraq war.

It is noteworthy that even the Brits who supported the Iraq war rejected the smarmy shenanigans. Would that the supporters of the Iraq war here were as intellectually honest and had such moral integrity. If they were, we would hear far less about the Magic Spread of Democracy by the waving of the George W. Bush Wizard Wand, and far more about the actual facts of military and foreign policy, and the actual facts about the history that got us in this mess.

It seems to have vanished without a trace while American news organizations chase after Michael Jackson and the Runaway Bride, but as a special treat in the British election, a secret MI-6 memo emerged stating that George W. Bush and Tony Blair between them determined to invade Iraq in the Summer of 2002, well before they claim to have done, and that the intelligence about terrorism and Weapons Of Mass Destruction was to be deliberately bent from that point forward to justify that invasion.

Is the memo true? Who knows? But it is certain that MI-6 was in a far better position to know than any of us.

So what else is new? Lying liars telling the lies they lie with, right? Well, at least the Brits signaled that over there that won't do. Somebody still has their heads screwed on straight, even if we don't

And then, of course, the number of insurgent attacks in Iraq have increased over last year. But our military is "making progress", and the armchair generals of the conservative Blogosphere are constantly gassing about the "last desperate gasp" of the insurgency. Moreover the number of terrorist attacks all over the world has multiplied, but we're "winning the war on terror" by democratizing Iraq, right?

Not to mention the fact that an exceptionally honest military assessment recently suggested that our profligate adventures in Iraq have seriously impaired our ability to do anything else easily with our armed forces. And the Iranian nuclear program keeps running like sand through the hourglass. Nice job, George. Oh, and by the way, we still have the unresolved problem of North Koreans with nukes, too.

Not that any of it matters. The only thing that really matters is how long we can continue to so freely deficit spend by devaluing the dollar and throwing the burden of our debt on the Chinese. It's a symbiotic relationship; as long as we continue to buy Chinese goods, China will continue to buy our debt. But if we ever stop consuming, or even significantly slow down, there is every reason for the Chinese--who have been losing by continuing to buy dollars which continue to devalue--to dump our debt as quickly as possible.

We haven't slowed down our consumption yet, though wages have declined and job growth has barely brought us back to where we were in 1999. Sounds odd, doesn't it? How are we able to keep consuming so much? By private borrowing, that's how; borrowing at incredibly low interest rates for the past two years. And interest rates are rising, courtesy of the Fed, to control oil price induced inflation. The oil prices, of course, are unlikely to fall anytime soon because of Chinese demand pressure on the markets to make all those goods we spend good borrowed money to consume.

Sounds like a shaky house of cards, you say? Bingo.

Half of America is asleep; the Red half. They cavort in dreams about "moral values", a "Christian nation", and a President who keeps us safe by sending in the troops to shoot at somebody somewhere--it really doesn't matter who the somebody is, or why we went there, just keep them shooting. And keep bringing back the dead and maimed under the cover of darkness until you finally get them home.

The other half of America, the Blue half, is not exactly asleep, but it is in no position to seriously influence policy or events. A majority is a majority is a majority, and, even if they can't seem to do that much or do it very fast, they can and have simply cut out one half of the country from doing anything at all.

The only serious question is when the house of cards will come down. Not if, when. This is the only chance for the Americans who currently sleep so soundly to finally wake up. The rest of us must simply be patient, determined, and wait.

See what I mean? A bloody bore. So much so that I'm not even bothering to post the links. You can go to Google News if you want them.


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