Friday, July 23, 2010

Tyrants Start Somewhere

Can we follow them on Twitter and Facebook as they make their way into what Jefferson referred to as a swamp? These un-incumbent mid-term election challengers who say the darndest things and spend lots of money may seem populist enough to get them elected, if voters of conscience take a pass. The answer is you betcha. Tweet this.

There is no surer sign of decay in a country than to see the rites of religion held in contempt.
Niccolo Machiavelli

Sarah Palin posted on Twitter, "Doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.” And with that the professional media, blogosphere et al focused on the invented word, a presumable contraction of repudiate and refute. Palin reposted the message, “Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand. Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in the interest of healing.” Unanswered is, a provocation for what?

For those who missed the bigotry of her post, replace the word “Muslims” with the word “Catholics” or the word “Jews.” For one thing to notice, her statements are consistent with the rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan at its height in 1923, infamous for all of its out-and-out bigotry. For another, it satisfies what Osama Bin Laden has sought for Al Qaeda recruitment – a publicly stated contempt for the Muslim religion by a person or persons who appear to represent the will of the US by saying that Muslims are the enemy of America. Palin, appearing to represent people other than herself, delivered. Her words make Muslims victims of the terrorist attacks of September, 2001.
Bin Laden must be pleased.

Why it is that Palin has any interest in a New York City issue may be puzzling to some, but for the conservative evangelizing work of Bill Kristol, who waxed ridiculously about Palin with George Will and Michael Gerson a couple of years back before she got picked to disable the McCain campaign. Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, is probably her muse on the topic since opposition to the Mosque is also a tea party election stance in New York. Palin displayed her bigotry and hid it behind her cute new word. Unnecessary provocation and heart stabbing are superfluities to her rube rhetoric.

One-fifth of the people are against everything all the time.
Robert Kennedy
I have calculated that individual public opinion occupies a space of 334,540,800 cubic inches: 1 mile wide times I mile long times 1 inch deep. Our problem is that the polling data is too much with us. The fact is, there is no huge shift in public opinion. The much touted anger and rage that is reported is exaggerated on purpose and exacerbated on television. The reason is that if the truth be told, the mid-term races are not close. However, if they appear to be close, then more beer, cars and pills to treat erectile dysfunction can be sold.

The non-closeness of the elections, I contend, accounts for the weakness of the Republican candidates from amateurs such as Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina to political hacks like Jan Brewer and Sharron Angle. For example, in California, the Fiorina senate campaign is reported to be statistically close to that of 3 term incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer. Fiorina has $4M. Boxer has $14M. There is a reason: Fiorina is a former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and after the election she will remain a former CEO either looking for a gig or living off of celebrity. If elected she would have to work with Dianne Feinstein. In such cases, celebrity pays.

Because of my Irish heritage, I am anti-incumbent by nature. I am for term limits on congress. However, I cannot support candidates who have never shown any interest in or participated in public service. By the way, one never hears the Republican/tea party candidates speak about public service, because, to them, the concept is foreign, probably even socialist.

A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.
Theodore Roosevelt

The deficit is not a real issue for the mid-term elections, which are state elections. The deficit -- part of the economy -- is an issue of federal elections. Employment, the two wars and immigration are “real issues,” as they were in TR’s time.

With an alarming dearth of policy, the present GOP is content with merely opposing everything and anything that the President does or supports. The argument goes like this: it took the GOP seven years to destroy the US economy and to create the deficit out of a surplus. The Democrats have not fixed it in the first 18 months Obama has been President. It is kind of like saying “We screwed it up. Only we can unscrew it.”

The War in Afghanistan has not ended. The War in Iraq is slow going. They are both products of the Bush Administration. Each is astronomically costly in terms of the 3-Ms – the men, the material and the money. And somehow it is all Obama’s fault. He should have wrapped those two wars up by last Christmas. He is, after all, the Commander-in-Chief.

Immigration to a land of immigrants and the controversy that comes with it is the purview of the Federal government. It was a major KKK issue after WWI, although the Klan had little interest in Latinos except for their tendency to be Catholic, like being a Communist or a homosexual. Somehow, the Obama administration has failed to protect the Arizona border, says the tea party. Their recent Arizona profiling law is in court, where it will end.

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!
Ronald Reagan

Reality does not care. Ronald Reagan, the spiritual head of the GOP, is better known for his quips than anything else. “Honey, I forgot to duck” is one of them. But on the pragmatic matter of bureaucracy, the Gipper was right on. Bureaucrats who suffer a cut in budget have arrived at the terminus of their career. Thus the rhetoric of smaller government can only succeed if the present government is overthrown and replaced.

If only there were books to burn.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
Thomas Jefferson
Once non-incumbents are elected, they become junior members of governing elite and are obliged go to knife-and-fork school to be trained in their new positions. They have no influence. They do as instructed if they want to return. They are obliged to work for their constituency by making deals, especially with others of their state. This was all new in Jefferson’s time because there was no incumbency.

But tyranny was not new. Tyrants start somewhere and they are characterized by their bigotry. Silence in November would be the electorate, Jefferson's “people of good conscience,” taking a pass on their right to vote and letting Robert Kennedy’s 20% of the people “against everything all the time” have their sway. That is where tyranny begins.

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