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on what is good for the gander [Aug. 31st, 2004|01:43 pm]
[Current Mood |confusedconfused]

Elections are not so much about who is elected to office, but that one is empowered to have a vote in the first place. Between elections, we have the rule of law, not politicians, although politicians play an important role in creating and maintaining the law.

There are some important words used that I don't fully understand. Words like dissent. It struck me today as odd that at least one argument against the current republican presidency is the existence of so-called "free speech" zones (FSZ)- but the use of these same FSZ at the DNC as well as the fact that the legal grounds for their existence was very likely carved out during the prior Democratic presidency to enforce limits on protests around abortion clinics, tends to suggest that the FSZ is an invention of the Democratic party who found a convenient weapon for them to use, and then recoiled in horror when the same weapon was used in ways unintended. I feel the same way about the efforts now to overturn "winner takes all" in Colorado- it becomes very dangerous when we create laws without either appreciating in advance, or accepting afterwards, the consequences of those laws.

I've never understood why I should be either "pro-life" or "pro-choice"; or why, if I don't support one position or the other in it's entirety, I somehow become a "supporter" of the other. It's another example of "if you're not for us, you're against us" mentality that seems to consume so many people planning to vote democratic in the fall.

I'm mystified by the speeches of John McCain, Rudolph Giuliani, and even former Democratic mayor Ed Koch, who are in support of Bush and yet somehow still represent "dissent". I get the feeling that I am encouraged not even to listen, lest I be swayed to the dark side. I think people should spend more time listening to what is said on the dark side of things. Sometimes evil brings about greater good.

I'm maddened, because i emotionally want to vote Democratic but the more I scratch the surface, the less "there" is there. Many people are running scared at the prospect of a Giuliani vice presidency, because it would sway so many swing voters to "the dark side". How can this happen, unless the Democratic message is so weak that a token position can be enough to tip the balances? I feel as though the country has lived for so long on the camel's hump- we have forgotten to focus on what unites us to a majority, and as a result we are creating government for the interested few. And, what is this "dark side", what evil has befallen us? Where is the evidence, the facts, which should make it so tangible to me that change is imperative?

When left with an ambiguity, when unsure whether or not things are getting better or worse, I think it's more important to "stay a course". I remember my father (a die-hard Democrat, speaking about Carter at the time) telling me that a presidency should be for a un-renewable eight year term: once decided, you stick to your guns; and don't worry about the goal of being re-elected, but rather focusing on what is for "the greater good". Economic cycles don't swing in the period of two to three years- I'm fully convinced that the hard times which befell us during the turn of the millennium must have been in part created by habits and regulations evolved over the pre-milennial cycle. It was (sort of) an age of "results matter, fuck morals", "it's the economy, stupid". But morals do matter (even though I don't believe such a thing really exists); and if we have learned any lesson from Bush being elected, it is that a moral stance (whether you agree with the stance or not) seems to have great importance to people. I want Bush out, but I am also unsteady at the trigger, because I have reasonable doubt. In the absence of certainty, why should I be so quick to change things when I don't see things as any less "good" or any more "evil"?

Bush has justified his invasion of Iraq largely on the grounds that it was the "right" thing to do, not necessarily the easy, or even correct, thing to do. The vision, correct or incorrect, was that Hussein's administration was pro-terror and that being "against terrorism" is the correct moral stance. The weakness of the Democratic position is that the "war in Iraq" is immoral or unjustified, but Democrats are not in a good position to argue on the basis of morals. The weakness of the Democratic position is that Iraq is about "getting the oil"- when they can offer no proof that the end result is headed toward a puppet regime for Big Oil nor can they prove mismanagement by following the money. If it is about proof and evidence- for example, to prove that Iraq had WMD or ties to Terror, then there should be a consistent message of being for proof and evidence. And if it is all about the immorality of Oil, why is it that the Republican administration appears to take the steam out of what should be Democrat's sails, with a comprehensive energy policy (irrespective of its actual accomplishments) seems to trump the Democratic "nineties" steady decline of gas mileage and no comprehensive policy on energy? Why was oil cheap then, and expensive now, if it is about cheap oil? I want explanations, not demagoguery.

I'm also maddened by both Democrats and Republicans alike, who are "Against Terrorism". Terrorism against imperialism is at the very foundation of American society. Are we so complacent with the moral high-ground that we feel somehow terrorism a-la 1776 is OK, but a-la 1976 is not OK? Terror is the last resort against imperialism, and American society has become far too imperial due to the influence of Democratic forces which contravene the rights of states to decide things for themselves. In our social backlash against confederacy, which arose out of the "state" right to slavery, we have forgotten the ideals which make the form of confederate government (espoused in the European union, now, strangely) so valuable, and gone too far in becoming a Democracy as opposed to a Republic.

More reasonable doubt: has speech really been curtailed? I can see no hard evidence that the voice of "dissent" is subject to prosecution any more or less today than four years ago. I can really understand Michael Powell (FCC Chairman) when he says, The First Amendment bars the government from infringing on speech, but the bar is not absolute. Government cannot ban indecent speech; the government can only limit its airing. I don't agree with FSZ, but in principle, I cannot understand why protesting "over here" rather than "over there" would be more or less effective in principle. We do not live in a society where people are "unaware" of dissent because there is no medium for dissent to air to the general public. Protesting in front of the DNC or RNC will not "influence" the people inside- the purpose of dissent and protest should be to alter public opinion, not alter the opinion of established (and entrenched) entities directly. Howard Stern is a demagogue: the more he rails about the limits of his speech, the freer his speech seems to be. It is ironic that today, he is broadcast on more Clear Channel stations than he was before he started to rail against Clear Channel. They're not bowing to freedom of speech: they're cottoning to the market, and somehow the more Stern derides them for inhibiting his speech, I'm sure, the more satisfied the conservative nitwits are. He's apparently learned this formula: have people learned that it's a formula, though? Or are we buying, as long as Michael Moore is selling?

I think people like to hear the screams and see the blood so long as they know it's not real. That's the real path to overthrowing rampant conservativism- give them (even in appearance only) what they ask for. Religion is the opium of the masses- what the religious right needs is more religion, not less, and they will be consumed and pacified into it.

I think the war is very likely "wrong"- but I can see no way that electing a Democrat is a curative. There would still have been a war on Iraq if the Democrats were in power. Indeed, most Democrats voted for it- although they claim they were "deceived" by the so called "evidence"- would you want to vote for someone who is so easily "deceived", by the flimsiest of "evidence"- this is not leadership, but mass hysteria: the worst attribute of one who pretends to a throne.

At my basest, I am enraged by people who say they would rather leave the country than live through four more years of Bush. This is such an immature position that it makes me want to scream. Living in a republic such as we do is not about always getting your way. That would be the tyranny of the one, the you; at it's root, a fascist state. We have lost all meaning of true fascism. Everyone is "wrong" in some way- learning that your opinion is not always right is supposed to be the lesson we learn from having gotten beaten up in school, or conversely, given detention for beating others up. Sometimes, too, a know-it-all doesn't get the beating he soundly deserves; and sometimes, the bully gets away with it. The point of it all is that there has to be just enough freedom so that all voices are heard in the process, not that any voice, or even a majority, has the right answer. We are not children such that we have to take our toys and leave if we don't get our way. We are adults: that is why only so-called adults are allowed to vote.

Four more years of Bush might just give the moral majority enough pacification to effect real change in 2008: either with a liberal Republican candidate, or a more interesting Democratic candidate. I'd kind of be intrigued to see a McCain or Giuliani presidency. Who knows? You cannot say that electing a Democrat is the right answer, only a different one. Question: what would happen in four years, with a Bush/Cheney ticket? Do you think people will vote for a Cheney presidency? Perhaps a Cheney presidency might mean a huge boost for "Gay Rights", knowing how torn he is at a personal level. Having Bush to stand against gives vitality and meaning to a fight for rights, whereas against a presidency who is "for you" but does nothing "for you" leads only to despair and apathy. Fighting the fight, committting to fighting the fight on an ongoing basis, and not just leaving when the action gets hot, is how adults behave.

I think I'd like to see Kerry elected to office. But I don't agree that he should be elected for the wrong reasons. He should be elected for the right reasons, and finding those reasons has been so hard for me, and I would be loath to find myself, at the last minute, taking stock of my feelings in the booth and pressing the "republican" button, not finding within myself any good reason to do otherwise. I think the prospect of seeing what Bush could do with four more years, for better or worse, promises to be much more interesting than the alternative. How's that for a wrong reason?

[User Picture]From: villagechick
2004-08-31 11:09 am (UTC)
The one weakness of the democrats is that they are having a hard time on coming up with reasons to vote for them other than they are not Bush. This happens to be a good enough reason for me, as I cannot in good consience vote for a man who looked for every reason to invade Iraq and tried very hard not to look for reasons NOT to invade. He started the new Vietnam, and that's a good enough reason for me not to vote for him, not to mention his attempt to write discrimination into the constitution. Actually just his attempt to write discrimination into the constitution is a good enough reason for me.

The democrats have to get off their ass and start spouting about what they're "for" and not what they are "against". If they would stop being such wussies about certain issues, people would feel better about voting for them.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2004-08-31 11:47 am (UTC)

is Iraq the new Vietnam?

I don't necessarily agree with the characterization of Iraq as the new Vietnam. We've had no draft, for starters. This isn't about sending people who don't want to be part of the Military to their death for a Cause. This has been a fairly focused, if expensive, effort.

On the other hand, the atrocities are appalling- as they were in Vietnam. Has our military learned nothing from the era?

Also, the obvious end result of the War on Terror- a further unjust economic boost to the military-industrial complex. In my reading preparing my post, I was fascinated by the statement of Eisenhower (a republican!) that I came across here:
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

I think Kerry could, if he wanted to, live up to this vision. But, why haven't I heard him speak so eloquently, nor heard him criticize our behavior there as he did with Vietnam? I think he fears a backlash- but I think the vast majority of military personnel are voting for Bush anyway, by my estimation. I fear the Kerry we may elect today is not the same man of principles we knew so many yesterdays ago.
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[User Picture]From: villagechick
2004-08-31 12:03 pm (UTC)

Re: is Iraq the new Vietnam?

The fact that Kerry has backtracked on so many things in order to make himself electable which bothers me greatly. *sigh* He needs to grow a pair. And Bush needs to admit when he is wrong.

As for the military-industrial complex. Cheney's influence on the war bothers me because of his ties to that complex.

As for the draft, it's coming. I firmly believe that. They have already started or will soon stop-loss measures which include re-calling people and forcing re-enlistment which amounts to forcing people who have finished their service to continue their service even if they would rather not leave their families to possibly die.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2004-09-01 11:59 am (UTC)

Re: is Iraq the new Vietnam?

Notwithstanding recent stories in the news media and on the Internet, Selective Service is not getting ready to conduct a draft for the U.S. Armed Forces -- either with a special skills or regular draft. Rather, the Agency remains prepared to manage a draft if and when the President and the Congress so direct. This responsibility has been ongoing since 1980 and is nothing new. Further, both the President and the Secretary of Defense have stated on more than one occasion that there is no need for a draft for the War on Terrorism or any likely contingency, such as Iraq. Additionally, the Congress has not acted on any proposed legislation to reinstate a draft. Therefore, Selective Service continues to refine its plans to be prepared as is required by law, and to register young men who are ages 18 through 25.

-from http://www.sss.gov/

I have also briefly searched at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.html for any bills that might suggest an appropriation for restating a draft through the selective service.

I think the idea that a draft is imminent is an irrational fear, not based in sound facts. Of course, since the administration is full of "liars and deceivers", this could just be the proverbial wool I like to hide my eyes with.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2004-09-01 12:35 pm (UTC)

Re: is Iraq the new Vietnam?

A lot of this "draft is back" talk is centered arond two bills, one introduced in the House by Charles Rangel, D-NY, (H.R.163) and Senate by Ernest Hollings, D-SC (S.89) introducing a period of mandatory service for all young americans, men and women. Both are held up in committee- you can search http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d108query.html by sponsor to find them fairly easily. Status: in committee since 2003 (!). Interestingly, Rep. Rangel has also introduced a resolution to impeach Donald Rumsfeld- I doubt that the sponsor of such a bill is some kind of agent for the neocons with a record like that. (unless it is a "cover move" :)

However, it does point indirectly to the point I'm trying to make: blindly voting for a Democrat on the basis that he must be the opposite of the "Evil Empire of Bush" is not a strategy. Both of the sponsors of these bills are Democrats. and I don't think that we can always believe what we hear, as plausible sounding as a return to the draft may seem.

I refuse to be led, one way or another, by blind fear.

Also, the stop loss measures I hear about refer to re-enlisting people who have been dismissed "early" before their period of service is complete. I'm not opposed to the government changing direction, and rescinding an "early leave" for people who had already agreed to serve the full term.

While active service for the national guard and reserve is an onerous task, it is a price that may have to paid when you choose to take advantage of the benefit. I can't see how this is a true hardship.
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[User Picture]From: bovril
2004-08-31 01:17 pm (UTC)
That was a beautiful and thoughtful essay, much food for thought. Thank you!

I suspect that Kerry would be different in office from what he professes on the stump, just as Bush was different. I suspect that Kerry would grow back into some opinions that he has had in the past -- fiscal conservatism, separation of church and state, and that it is time to get out of Iraq.

I think both candidates are coming out badly -- as you point out -- because they are playing to the swing voters, that tiny slice of people who have not made up their minds. Kerry already has the Deaniacs, so why rail against the war? Bush already has the religious right, so why scream about abortion?

As for Iraq, I don't understand how anybody can justify it. Surely it is wrong to attack a country that is no imminent threat? Or at least to do so with such reckless speed before getting the facts. If it is right to police the world for Iraq, isn't it also right to effect regime change in Zimbabwe and Uzbekistan?

On energy policy, the first move is not to just grab more of the world's oil, but rather reduce our own consumption through taxation and regulation. Keep the ANWR oil for another 40 years until it is REALLY valuable.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2004-08-31 01:48 pm (UTC)

the problem with taxation and regulation

In principle, I'm all for reducing our consumption of oil through taxation and regulation. However, there seems to be a big problem with such a policy at its root.

A tax on gasoline, for instance, is not a progressive tax (one that falls on the rich more than the poor). I think that the fiscal burden of higher gasoline prices falls most on the lower middle class, and as such is a supremely bad idea, especially during a faltering economic environment.

I don't object to developing the ANWR for oil and natural gas production. I also wholly support the development of nuclear power as an alternative energy source. I've read both the Democratic and Republican, and these two issues, combined with the measure of actually putting hard numbers on promises, tilt me in favor of the Republican position on these issues.

Most telling, however, is the mention in the Republican platform of how the ANWR could obviate the need for Saudi oil for 20 years. Why bring this to our attention? Why off-handedly slap down our so-called ally? What might these republicans know about the present, and future, that is revealed in these few words that isn't known publically?
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[User Picture]From: enigmaticae
2004-08-31 01:40 pm (UTC)
"i emotionally want to vote democratic"

don't you mean that you emotionally want to vote Democrat?

i think whoever is voting here in the US is voting because we are, at least in part, a democratic nation. . .
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2004-08-31 01:52 pm (UTC)
typo corrected.
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[User Picture]From: enigmaticae
2004-08-31 05:50 pm (UTC)
lol-- i'm sorry. . .i'm such a dork. . .i should have just left it alone--i'm sure everybody knew what you were saying. ..

hope all is well,

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[User Picture]From: jane_etrix
2004-08-31 08:06 pm (UTC)
I think this is great except:

The FSZ around abortion clinics are simply not comparable to the FSZ around either convention. One is a political arena; the other is a medical facility.

Democrats are not in a good position to argue on the basis of morals.

Actually, they are. I am so tired of hearing that the right-wing is the moral voice in American politics. This moral superiority is based on what, exactly? Being against gay marriage? I've been paying attention to politics for quite a few years now, and I have yet to see any real evidence of this great committment to morality which the Republican party claims to possess.

Guiliani would make a dreadful President.

In regard to the last sentence, there is a Chinese curse which says, "May you live in interesting times." The operative word, of course, being "curse." :)

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