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July 11, 2003
The Promised Explanation Elayne said:

Elayne said:

Lots of disagreement on the anti-intellectual article you linked to, but I'll probably save that for my own blog.
Looking forward to it.

Because of course there's a cult of anti-intellectualism, so naturally real people (i.e., folks who speak plainly) can't speak for themselves. Grr. I'm sorry Anne, but I can't tell you how strongly I take exception to your last sentence. I've blogged about it before, but I think I'm going to again...

Okay, that could be a sideswipe at my tortuous prose style but clearly it isn't and that's my ego (I'm the center of the universe!) getting in my way. Let me make something very clear. I'm not at all against people who can, and do, speak plainly. (I only wish I were one of them.)

If that comment was still in reference to the book, then my only response if that the author spoke because the "real people" didn't have a forum. I don't fault the woman's intent. Just her execution.

Anti-anti-intellectualism rant follows

My reference to the (I think, very real) "cult of anti-intellectualism" was, specifically, to the Republican Party's long history of dismissing the Democrats as, "intellectually effete" as though the two were synonymous and bad. Intellectualism in this country is also linked (usually by the Right) to ineptitude.

The clear inference is that to be intellectual is to be an incompetent wimp. It's as though you can either think or act, but you can't be good at both.

This infuriates me in our society and never more so than in politics.

I'm enraged by reports that the single most important quality a politician can possess these days is, "likeability." I despise the mentality that makes smart men and women work to project themselves to the voters as, "just like you" and "a regular joe/jane."

I'm more than angered. I'm afraid.

Okay, everyone, take a look at the person in the next cubicle or walking past your desk right now. Do you want someone like that in charge of this country's destiny? Is this the person you want with their finger on the nuclear button?

Is this the person you'd trust to research and understand the intricacies of the economy, how small business interacts with big business, how manufacturing at home benefits us but how marketplace restrictions on imports hurts us, how the country's need for clear air and water have to be balanced against the cost of legislation and the expense to corporations, expense that's passed along to the worker making $5.75 an hour?

Is this the person you want investigating the tensions in the Middle East and deciding whose government or whose economy is most open to 'liberalization' in the hopes that increased personal freedoms and democracy will result and that the governments of the same countries can be brought to understand that their health and survival necessarily have to depend upon the health and survival of both their neighbors and their citizens?

I'm willing to bet that 99.5 percent of you said not only "No" but "Hell, no!"

When did people in this country become so disconnected with reality that they lost track of the hundreds upon hundreds of delicately balanced, conflicting interests that have to be managed by the leaders of this country? When did the general public decide that just any "nice guy" could probably do the job?

When did the unspoken agreement come into place that what we want are politicians we'd like to have a beer with and discuss the All Star Game, instead of politicians with the education and smarts to understand incredibly complex issues?

The problem (as I see it) is that there's been an undercurrent of anti-intellectualism in this country for a very long time.

Unlike, for instance, access to education, funding to provide equal opportunities, and marketplace realities that offer the chance for real, large-scale success to everyone, you can't legislate equal intelligence.

Regardless of whether or not IQ tests "prove" anything, the truth is that, numbers aside, some people are smarter, a whole lot smarter, than other people. And no law you pass is going to change that.

The problem with intellect is that it's not democratic.

Because of that, there's a feeling in this country that being "smarter' than other people is somehow shameful. Being too intellectual makes you a freak. Thinking about serious subjects, just because they interest you is almost un-American.

We're a shootin' and fishin' and beer-drinkin' kind of country, we are. We're led by Real Manly Men, we're not going to follow some four-eyed wimp. Nossir, not us. Bah, humbug!

This is, for those who haven't figured it out, a huge part of what the Neocons are offering to their newly energized pool of wingnuts. This is what Savage is preaching, and what Limbaugh is all about. This is why LBJ and presidents since (including the current guy) buy farms and ride around in pick-up trucks.

I mean, god forbid that the leaders of this country should look, you know, smart enough to handle the job. (I loved the episode of West Wing that took on this question. In fact, this has been a subtext in a number of episodes.)

This disenfranchises intelligent people and does a disservice to us all. The press used it against Gore in Election 2000. Before, him, Clinton was smart, but he also had the "likeability" thing down pat, so he got past the voters.

'Reagan? What did voters see when they looked at him but a conglomeration of the man's B-movie roles as a "regular joe"?

Bush I and Bush II both ran on the same image (there was certainly no aura of intellectualism around either of them, especially II).

This is an astoundingly, mind-numbingly complex world we're living in. Nothing is as simple as it looks.

Take tort reform. Bush's push for tort reform is a knee-jerk issue for a lot of Democrats. No! they scream. He wants to destroy our ability to get restitution for the wrongs done to us!

The problem is that we need tort reform. Not only to keep people from suing McDonalds when they gain weight, because that's frivolous and unwinnable and clogs up the courts that should be dealing with real wrongs that have been done.

No, we need tort reform because the culture of litigation in this country is pushing insurance rates up so high that start-up businesses can no longer afford the insurance they have to have in order to actually open their doors and start making money. The collapse of the dot-com bubble, for instance, was accompanied by a wave of lawsuits. That pushed the liability insurance premiums for a start-up company doing business on the internet (as almost everyone does nowadays) into the stratosphere.

I'm not saying we need Bush's version of tort reform, because I don't know the details of what he wants. But we need it, and I'm not voting for any politician who says we don't.

What I want is a politician who seems smart enough to weigh our need for the clout to sue, and win, when we have a legitimate grievance against the need to keep companies in business. This person will also have to consider the cost and effectiveness of federal regulations about corporate behavior that will minimize the need for lawsuits, and determine which issues should be state-mandated and which are federal matters. What kinds of regulations and legislation will work and how do you enforce it without placing an unworkable burden on the government or the corporation or both? What will it cost and who can be trusted to oversee it? How will this interact with the Constitution and what solution is workable to both parties so that you can be confident it won't be repealed in four years?

You need smart people for these issues.

We need to be smart, too. People reacting to these issues need to think about them before they act or react.

But there's not always time, is there? And we don't all have the desire to do this, and certainly not on every topic. Some of us aren't smart enough to figure these things out on our own anyhow.

So, we need elected officials we can trust to be smart enough to have investigated ramifications and potential outcomes of the steps they take. So that we can listen to them and trust that they're giving us a fair assessment of the situation.

We need this, because the dumber they are, the more time and effort each and every one of us has to spend doing the research and doing the thinking ourselves. And if we're having to spend two hours a day second-guessing our elected officials and explaining what they're doing, or supposed to be doing, to them, then exactly what good does it do to us to have them? We might just as well eliminate elected officials and go to a pure democracy where the government takes no action except by direct vote of the populace.

When I vote for someone, I don't want to know how dumb and average they can pretend to be. I want to know if they're smart enough to take on the job they're up for. But we never really get to learn that about candidates because no one wants to be the next Al Gore and no one wants to be tarred with the brush of intellectualism that will turn off millions of voters.

There's a cult of anti-intellectualism in this country and it's...by gosh, it's undemocratic!

The real point of democracy isn't to smooth out the bumps in life until we're all lowest-common-denominator equal, okay? It's to do what we can to bring everyone up to the level of the highest among us.

Until we start celebrating the right kind of success, we're just going to keep sliding down the slippery slope of infantilism. (Hey! I worked the original article back in!)

A country, a society, is a living organism, and, like all living organisms, has the choice to either grow or die.

We're dying and we're dying, not because of people speaking in "plain voices" or otherwise, but because if one of those voices, plain or otherwise, shows signs of undemocratic intelligence, they're buried under a wave of scoffing and ridicule.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:01 PM | Comments (0)
Lunatics Take Charge of Asylum

Lunatics Take Charge of Asylum

Via Altercation, not only are we spending nearly four billion dollars a month on invading Iraq, which is just a little more than we'd anticipated (!!) but this is the kicker:

The House this week approved a $369 billion defense spending bill that includes no money for military operations in Iraq....
What kind of shenanigans are they pulling now?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:47 AM
Arms to Iran

I checked most of the usual suspects there on the left yesterday, and didn't see anyone talking about the government's investigation of 18 USofA corporations for potentially having sold arms to Iran.

Okay, it's not the investigation into arms-selling in Iraq that we all wanted, and maybe it's just a red-herring, designed to distract us from the question of who sold Hussein the Weapons of Mysterious Disappearance, but at least there's an investigation into some kind of misbehavior. With Bush and most of the rest of the Administration stonewalling the 9/11 Commission, this may be all we get.

We haven't heard this one in a while. Randeep Ramesh says that not only was Iraq All About The Oil, but Bush's newly discovered compassion for Africa has the same roots. (His point seems to be that we're going to end our dependence on foreign oil by, well, by making it our oil.)

I'm sure that demands that we mortgage Iraq's oil output for the foreseeable future in order to "use its oil revenue 100 percent for the benefit of the Iraqi people" by paying Bush and Cheney's corporate cronies to reconstruct Iraq isn't in any way connected to the All About Oil theory, though.

Woollacott has his own thoughts on why we were bombarded with threats about WMD as a rationale for our illegal, pre-emptive war.

For those who like to keep reference sites bookmarked, you might want to check out Kevin's May 1 comparison graph of terrorist attacks around the world. (Heck, it's worth looking at anyhow, just to see how serious the problem of international terrorism has been.)

Brent Cunningham says it isn't biased journalism that's at fault, it's the wrong kind of objectivity.

Still, most reporters' real biases are not what political ideologues tend to think. "Politically I'm a reporter," says Eric Nalder, an investigative reporter at the San Jose Mercury News. Reporters are biased toward conflict because it is more interesting than stories without conflict; we are biased toward sticking with the pack because it is safe; we are biased toward event-driven coverage because it is easier; we are biased toward existing narratives because they are safe and easy.
Interesting ideas. Maybe the way the news is covered does need to be re-examined. (Certainly many of us who have been howling about lousy or inconsistent coverage of events would agree.)

Salute

And, speaking of the media, today's salute got to Capitol Hill Blue who, having gotten their fingers burned, have made a public pledge to use no more unnamed sources in their coverage.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)
July 10, 2003
Huh

Heard NPR talking about Creative Class yesterday. I first heard of this book a couple of months ago and thought it sounded like an interesting idea. I might even buy it, when my current to-be-read pile gets down into single digits. I do encourage you to go check out the website, though. Especially the links to various articles. Interesting reading.

When I read articles like this one, my first thought is always that if USofA citizens think we're giving more to the world's poor than we are, then we're not actually giving enough. (I mean, before the current Administration's let 'em die strategy.) Seriously. In terms of what we have, we give so little it's embarrassing. I know this is the kind of remark the militant always scoff at liberals for making, but when I think of how many people the money for just one "smart" missile would feed....

Moreover, during the Cold War and even today, too much U.S. foreign aid went to tyrants and crooks for tactical foreign policy purposes, while too little aid was used to fight poverty, hunger and disease. Not only have the amounts been much too small, they have been poorly directed.
Maybe we need a change in rhetoric. Something a little more honest? How about we have a "foreign aid" budget that, you know, aids people.

Separate from that we can have a "Who's Your Buddy?" budget with money that can be used to continue this country's history of trying to buy love and support from terrorists and totalitarian dictators, hmmm?

You know what I like about the internet? Lists. I love how people make lists of things. The NRDC has a record of Bush's record on the environment. Campaign Watch has a list of links to major media articles on the Bush families financial dealings. (They're a bit hysterical, but there are some interesting links.)

I think the Palace of the Republic should be saved and maintained as a museum or something. You cannot erase history by demolishing the symbols of it and we all need these kinds of reminders.

It's good to know that it wasn't Savage's lousy ratings (less than one percentage point) or his mind-numblingly foul mouth or his blatant hate-mongering that got Savage fired. Nope, he was done in by that evil, liberal media.

The Dead

An AP story (via the Guardian) puts the Iraqi civilian body count at 3,240. (How very precise.) In another forum, someone posted that a just-completed NGO, Survey put "civilian deaths during the war with Iraq" (I guess that means they're not counting anyone who died after Bush played Top Gun) at 2,652. (I haven't been able to find an on-line citation for this.) On the other hand, Iraq Body Count* is currently showing 6,055 7,706, so who knows what's right?

* I think they're probably cheating by adding in too many dead people. They have some dumb idea that it doesn't amtter whether you died before or after Bush's photo-op.

The Poor

Colleges today seem to be very weird places. For one thing, objective thought seems to be out of fashion. How could anyone claim with a straight face that Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed has a liberal bias?

It's a book about living on starvation wages. The author went out, tried to live on entry-level wages for the unskilled worker, then wrote a book about it. Rather than calling the book "intellectually dishonest" and objecting that it only portrays "one side" of the economy, these kids should read it and think. But no, they don't do that.

The bottom line is that they don't want to be poor, don't want to think about the poor, and object to being educated about the lives of the poor. They see it as propaganda instead of understanding the truth of the situation...that we're all impoverished by the poor in our society.

Unfortunately I have to say that I doubt Ehrenreich's book will change many minds. I was disappointed by her shallow coverage of the experiences she had, by her willingness to "take a break" from her self-imposed short-term poverty, and by the lack of...well, I guess the lack of human feeling she expressed for others. She spends a lot of time inside her own head and far too little time trying to grasp the long-term implications of generation after generation living in poverty. Maybe it's because the experiment was so short-term. Instead of a month in three different cities, she should have had to live three months in each. There's nothing that brings poverty home to you like the long-term vista of an unchanging, hopeless future.

And, finally

Read this. It's very, very on target. I've been saying it for years. The cult of anti-intellectualism in this country is going to bring us down.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)
Crass

I'm just saying. I'd be a lot more impressed by Bush's rhetoric in S. Africa and by his seeming concern for the African people if I hadn't heard on the radio this morning that this year's aid budget for Africa is 40 percent of what last year's was. (That is, the White House put through a request for 40 percent less than they requested last year.)

Hypocrite.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)
July 09, 2003
Random Headlines


Okay, looks like we're still making friends and influencing people when we send Bush overseas. This time we've influenced the residents of Senegal, none of whom ever want to have a USofA president visit again. Seems that while Bush was giving his sound bite-worthy speech about the horrors of slavery, the residents of the island were...you guess it, locked up somewhere else on the island so they couldn't throw off the mask and reveal their sekrit identities as international terrorists armed with biochemical weapons and nukes.

Oh, wait. That was some other country, wasn't it? All these people have in the way of weapons are some bitter remarks.

Well, maybe the security guys were afraid they'd blow a raspberry and ruin the sound on the take.

Salon has a heartbreaking story on the situation in the Congo but in all fairness I'd like to point out that it's not just the Bush Administration ignoring this one. The U.N. and all its members have failed to take decisive action on this matter for years.

But what's the story behind this? A spycatcher resigns and thirty seconds later there's a $25M bounty on Hussein's head?

I know Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory (Look! We're an empire!), but does that give us the right to ride roughshod over their Constitution? (Yep, it's Ashcroft In Action again.)

Tax cuts have already proven that Republicans are not longer the party of "fiscal responsibility" and now we have proof they're not really about small government, either.

There are some very interesting details of the PEW Research Center's latest poll available. For instance, in mid-April, 61 percent of those polled thought the war in Iraq was going "very well" but today only 23 percent say so.
In mid-April, 93 percent of those polled thought the war was going "very well" or "fairly well." Today, those two questions get a combined 75 percent. I'm just saying. If the man's approval ratings continue to tank at this rate, the Republicans won't even nominate him for '04.

(The poll also states that, at this moment, 42 percent of Democrats say they'd vote for Gore in '04. Well, why not? He's a viable candidate. I mean, he won last time, didn't he?)

FWIW, I finished The Vanishing Voter not long ago and plan to bore you all with a review one day soon. I'm working on The Emerging Democratic Majority now.

I have a few other thoughts to share today but first there will be a brief intermission while I pay attention to my paying job.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)
July 08, 2003
Extra! Extra!

My goodness. Horrible Horowitz joins the anti-Coulter parade!

Except that, being Horowitz, he disses her for not going quite far enough.

Put down the coffee and push away that lunch plate. You don't want to ruin a perfectly good keyboard after you read his bland assertion that he puts her stuff on his site because he's charmed by her "Swiftian commentary."

In reference to the book, he pretends to think the real mistake she made was in not making her "satirical exaggerations" quite clear enough. (That's how he categorizes her charging the likes of Truman, JFK, and LBJ as treasonous.) Because, you see, she's mixed her "facts" up with her "satire" in such a way that he can't tell when she's being "satirical" and when she's being serious.

I have news for you, David. She's seriously deranged and it says much about your own position that you support her.

I remember now why I quit reading his stuff. He's a self-basting turkey and mocking him would be redundant.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)
Love or War?

Elsewhere we may soon be arguing over whether or not Republicans are from Mars and Democrats are from Venus.

After some hard numbers detailing Republican obstructionism during the Clinton years, we get this:

Why are the Democrats so much more willing than the Republicans to make political sacrifices in the name of procedural fairness or of good government? Maybe Democrats are just nicer, but a more philosophical view is that liberals are committed to, are in fact bedeviled by, ideals about process that do not much preoccupy conservatives, at least contemporary ones. Liberals put their faith in such content-neutral principles as free speech, due process, participatory democracy. Is that too lofty? Then maybe we should say that today's liberals, unlike today's conservatives, don't believe in any particular set of ends ardently enough to blind themselves to the means they are using to achieve them.
I think that first, it's necessary, as always, to consider the question of each party's leadership apart from the members of the party, who tend (on both sides) to be less single-minded.

Each party is a conglomeration of miscellaneous, sometimes conflicting, interests. When elections are coming up (as they always are), party leaders try to pick and choose which of those different "interests" they think they can push through successfully, both in terms of getting candidates elected and in getting legislation through afterwards. When I speak of "Republicans" or "Democrats" here, I'm talking about the leadership unless I specify otherwise.

Democrats are, in fact, concerned with "process" in a way that the current Republican leadership is not. Someone has to care that the laws of the land and the intent behind those laws is considered. Historically, both parties have cared deeply about these things, in spite of the differences they've had about just what that intent might have been. It's only recently that Republicans have abandoned the well-trod paths of bipartisanship in favor of guerilla warfare.

(digression)

It's an odd reversal, if you think about it. The Republicans used to be the party of the First Methodist Church, and the Democrats of the great unwashed. Now the Republicans are the hellions, and the Democrats are the ones you want to bring home to mother. The G.O.P. is making such inroads among younger voters for the same reason that Fox News is making inroads among younger viewers. We live in a culture that values brazen certainty and loud conviction, no matter how wrongheaded. Pity the Democrats, stuck with the wrong set of virtues.
This is true. (In fact, I started to write about my view of Republicans "riding the Reality TV wave" before I realized that the article already covered the topic.) Republicans are trying to capture the attention-deficit younger voters to insure the survival of their party.

That explains, for instance, the leadership's fondness for the unlamented Savage*, rightfully booted from MSNBC.

It's a telling point, in my eyes, that he was sh*tcanned, not for telling lies, which he does frequently without any protests from his supporters, but for outrageous gay-bashing.

IMO, the Republicans were on more solid ground when they stayed away from their Christian Coalition members and didn't put their repressive morality and regressive social policies front and center in their platform. It's a sad truth that most people in the country find the economy mind-bogglingly complex, leaving them easy prey for campaign slogans that tarred Democrats as "tax-and-spend" maniacs and praised Republican policies as "fiscal responsibility." (Add in a couple of "let the voter keep their money" slogans and you've captured the economically challenged.) I'm not sure why they abandoned this approach unless it was that they were aware that their fiscal policies were about to alienate a lot of that same economically challenged voter base.

The Republican leadership's recent jump to the right in an attempt to woo the "angry white male" vote and the "Christian " vote is a mistake. They're fighting to turn the trend of society and they're going to fail. (Oh, their new approach provides catchy sound-bites for the evening news and makes sensational headlines, alright, so the media faithfully reports the Administration's truth-twisting talking points, but they offend or disquiet two people for every one person who accepts their rhetoric. Right now, they're counting on the old adage that, "no news is bad news." What candidates fight for is name recognition. If people know your name, they vote for you. I refuse to get side-tracked on a rant about how idiotic many voter are.)

My point, and I've got one, so bear with me, is that they're on the wrong track. The Republican Old Guard has not, let's be completely honest, ever come to terms with things like equal opportunity for women and minorities. The idea of treating gays like, well, like human beings is anathema to this same Old Guard, never mind the politically opportunistic blindness they show toward those openly gay members of their own party. The men currently in charge of this party are completely freaked out by all of the civil rights advances and no matter what they say publicly, would have no problems at all if the clock were turned back 50 years and those uppity women and 'colored' folk found themselves back in their powerless kitchens and ghettos.

Unfortunately for them, they do need today's youth in order for the party to survive and, aside from a tiny minority of vocal misfits, kids today just don't see minorities or women or gays as second-class citizens. So, as I said, the current leadership is sadly out of step with society and this is going to be their downfall.

* Re: Savage - For those concerned about his "influence" on society, I'd like to point out that in a forum I frequent where political discussion is constant and passionate from all over the political spectrum, most of the people who commented on Savage's firing, commented to say they'd never heard of him. Most of the right-wingers who had heard of him said they disliked him and were glad he'd been fired. If memory serves, only one person, someone whose opinions have previously revealed him to be just the type you'd expect to be a Savage listener, defended the guy at all.

(Some day I'll write an essay about this person. This is the person whose unbalanced defence of the indefensible, flying in the face of facts, impressed upon me the danger of blindly listening to the media. This person is the type who categorizes Clinton as the spawn of Satan whose every move was evil, much as I was beginning to consider Bush before I started stepping back and looking at things a little more calmly. This is the person who insists that Bush's invasion of Iraq was critical to save us from the WMD, but denies that the strikes Clinton ordered on Iraq's known/suspected WMD sites were, in fact, designed to protect us from said WMD or, in fact, did anything to protect us from WMD or even could be the reason that WMD are thin on the ground in Iraq today.

This person, while ratiuonal on many other subjects, begins to foam at the mouth when Clinton is mentioned. I was hoping to find out from them exactly what it was about Clinton that roused right-wing passions so dramatically but, to no one's surprise, this is not the kind of person who can cite facts or statistics. Once I objected to them citing Horowitz as a "news source", this person was pretty much out of examples of facts to back up their opinions. It's really sort of fascinating to talk to them. You pull the string (mention, "Clinton") and it's like the Energizer Bunny of bile. Goes nowhere in particular but it does go on and on and on.

(/digression)

Anyhow. The perceived "temperament" differences cited in the article are largely the result of the Republican leaders reassessing "business as usual" in the 80s putting in some long, hard years consolidating their hold on their party's elected officials. Recent media references to the "Republican Machine" aren't far off. They're organized nowadays in a way that Democrats aren't and probably never will be. (Liberals are, after all, concerned with personal freedom in a way that Republicans, regardless of campaign slogans, aren't.) The Republican leadership has tried to force their Congressional members into a solid voting bloc and, by and large, they've been successful.

There are Democrats who would like the party to get down off its moral pedestal and start fighting dirty, or at least dirtier. The journalist Eric Alterman, author of ''What Liberal Media?'' has complained that liberals need their own Fox News, their own talk radio -- their own unleashed attack dogs. Put Michael Moore behind a desk, and watch the right-wingers squeal. The problem is that many Democrats would squirm as well. It is just a fact that the Republicans are now the party of passionate convictions, while the Democrats are the party of grave reservations. The Democrats are essentially devoted to tempering the harm caused by the Bush administration, which is not much of an agenda at all, though it certainly makes a virtue of moderation. Ruthlessness is just not in the party's DNA.
I think this is wrong. Democrats can be ruthless. The current leadership just isn't willing to be as dishonest at the current Republican leadership. As we all saw during the Clinton years, there were plenty of times when the Republicans showed their willingness to shut down the country (indeed, they shut down the Federal government twice) rather than compromise or cooperate with any bipartisan legislation.

The Republicans, let's make this clear, care much less about this country than they do about being in power. They don't care so much what they're in power over. In fact, it would be to their taste to have a country much less gifted with Constitutional freedoms because citizens lined up and neatly numbered are much less problem. The current Republican leadership, you understand, read 1984 and didn't see what the problem was.

Ahem. Okay, I'm getting carried away. Democrats don't lack passionate convictions by any means. They're just don't automatically head to the extreme fringes of society when they want to get something done. The Republicans today have climbed into bed with people whose beliefs appalled their leadership and most of their party members of fifteen or twenty years ago. It's another example of short-term thinking.

(digression)

For those of you not well-versed in history (i.e., those who grew up under Reagan or something, understand that politics in this country changed dramatically after the Nixon years. Some major changes were underway before that, too, due to changes in the process of selecting party nominees. The Republican leadership has not traditionally been as obstructionist as the article shows it was during the Clinton years. The judicial nomination-blocking problem during the Clinton Administration, for instance, was an anomaly and, as the article states, can only be even tangentially understood in the context of the deranged Clinton-hating at that time. Historically, both parties have tended to block the occasional judicial nominee. This has always been a good thing since it largely acts to keep extremists (of either persuasion) off the bench.

The current Democratic filibustering in Congress is a result of the nomination of right-wing activists or just the kind of extremists that nomination-blocking is traditionally used for. What the right-wing defenders never say, and never want you to focus on is, as this article points out, the many, many, many Bush nominees who have sailed effortlessly through the system even though their beliefs were objectionable to the Democrats.

Nor does the right want to admit that, due to the aforementioned Clinton-hating, huge numbers of judicial nominees were blocked during the Clinton Administration. (Remember this when you hear about how clogged our federal courts are, okay? A lack of, you know, judges contributes significantly to such clogging.)

(/digression)

For the record, our political system encourages, in fact demands the bipartisan cooperation that the Republicans have abandoned. The Republicans are taking advantage of their current, temporary majority to ride roughshod over the Democrats and try to force through some of their (the Republicans) pet projects, but in the process they're alienating not only the Democrats but the moderates of the Republican party.

And, as we know, what goes around, comes around. Regardless of how cooperative Democratss are "temperamentally," those in Washington and in the party leadership aren't going to be feeling very bipartisan the next time they're in the majority and I promise you'll hear the Republicans screaming ten seconds before they're hurt when the time comes.

Like the impeachment moves against Clinton, and as I've said before, the Republicans open these huge cans o'worms with no apparent thought of consequences.

They're short-sighted. They'll do anything to win "the battle" and that causes them to lose sight of "the war."
Right now they're relying upon emotional jingoism to try and rally support around them and in some cases, with certain types of voters, it's working.

(I do find myself wondering how many people were led down the primrose path of hate by the combined efforts of the Republican leadership and the irresponsible press during the Clinton years until today they find that they have so much invested in Democrats being "the bad guys" that no matter what this Administration does, these people feel bound to support them. But that's a different topic and I'm no expert on psychology.)

Where was I? Oh. Yeah. However, as Bush's falling approval ratings show, these tactics are working less now than they did last month, and they're working a lot less today than they did in, say, January. The Republicans' tactics aren't sustainable. A hundred thousand, two hundred thousand, three hundred thousand, half a million, a million...as the unemployment numbers skyrocket, a lot of previously Republican voters are finding themselves disenchanted.

And the weight of history is against the party. Maybe the Supreme Court just recently ruled that gay sex is not, in fact, a criminal act, and that the Republicans' historical interest in other people's bedrooms is unconstitutional, but society has been headed toward this moment for a long time. Bucking the tide of history is futile.

As for the Republican leadership, well, as they increasingly allow their party's identity to be defined by hatemongers and outright liars they're going to alienate more and more of their actual voter base. The number of people who are going to fall into line behind the idiocies of people like Limbaugh and Savage is small but the amount of bad press generated by these people, and the number of moderate, sensible people turned off by the Republican party's affiliation with such people, is substantial. (I mean, how telling is it that not even the OpinionJournal found itself able to support Coulter's recently published apology for McCarthy?)

(digression)

I also see that they're trying to brand Dowd as the liberal version of Coulter, but that's just insanity on someone's part. Dowd isn't a liberal. They're just pissy because she stopped kissing Bush's boots. All you have to do is check any column she wrote during the Clinton years to figure out she's just one of those who goes after whoever is in office. Coulter, on the other hand, is marinated in bias and if some men didn't find their brains consistently softened by blonde hair and inappropriate cleavage, she'd be working at Denny's or IHOP, where she belongs.

(/digression>

The Democrats aren't "historically" the party of compromise and bipartisanship, they're just looking awfully good that way because of the temper tantrums thrown by the Republicans in the 90s and the way the same folks are behaving today.

The important point is not, I think, whether "in the end" it "pays to play nice." The important point is that bipartisanship is the way our government works.

Bipartisanship allows things to work smoothly, continuously, and with a certain consistency that allows citizens to plan (and lead) their lives in security. The Republicans have been trying to trash that bipartisanship for over a decade now and what they're going to leave behind is nothing but chaos unless the Democratic leadership grits their teeth and rises above "politics" to think of the country's long-term good.

Fortunately for us all the Democrats are, in fact, the party most likely to do that.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)
Well, well, well

Couldn't have happened to a worthier idiot.

It may not be a "thousand points of light" but apparently it's enough light to suggest that shenanigans are going on in the Iraqi oilfields. For the record, I'm not sure what's going on, nor am I willing to declare just yet that if oil is, in fact, being piped from Iraq into Kuwait, it's proof of evil intent. (It's not proof of virtue, either.) Let's face it, folks. After this last round of tax cuts, there's no way our goverment can pay for the reconstruction of Iraq. Iraq's oil is the only way that country is going to get rebuilt.

And I don't think you can blame the "children's prison" versus "orphanage" story on the Bush Administration, either. More's the pity.

Down in the heart of Texas, they're still fighting over redistricting.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)
July 07, 2003
Does anyone know?

Does the Democratic leadership have a plan? Do the Democrats have a leadership?

Posted by AnneZook at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)