Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Goodbye Cruel World... Today is my last day as The Workday Blogger. I've posted about this previously, but just to reiterate... my job has been outsourced. I'm not just saying that in order to play the victim in tough economic times. I work(ed) as a customer service agent for a major corporation and last year they opened a call center in the Philippines. Then on the last day of February our center found out we were closing on 04/30. Oddly enough, in late March our company opened another center in Panama... So if that is not the definition of having my job outsourced I don't quite know what is.

I don't want to leave the wrong impression about my perception on this. My company is offering a very nice severance package. If I had been given the chance to move along, keeping my job in the states but being given my severance to move along, I would have taken the offer.

I do feel bad for our customers though. My company is renowned for being American. I know from taking calls since the center opened in the Philippines that many of our customers are not happy about reaching an overseas center when they want customer service, and that experience is about to increase dramatically. I don't want to sound xenophobic, but the fact is that there is a fundamental communications gap, and many mannerisms and quirks which Americans understand about one another which are lost on overseas operators. Everyone I have spoken with in my center considers this to be an unmitigated disaster for the customer service provided by our company.

Now maybe my new job, whatever it may be, will afford me the same opportunity to go online every now and then to spout off. In which case The Workday Liberal will rise like a phoenix from the ashes. But I've considered myself very lucky to have been able to do this from my current job and I will be surprised if another job allows the same sort of activity.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Jet-Gate Proves Once Again, McCain PWNS The Media

The N.Y. Times story about Senator John McCain's use of his wife's corporate jet starting last summer has gotten quite a bit of attention in the last couple of days. The consensus from the mainstream media is that McCain followed the letter but not the spirit of the law. If you watch the talking heads on television they will harrumph about the shady ethics this story demonstrates and quickly shift the topic over to the Jeremiah Wright controversy. It is the safest bet possible that Jeremiah Wright coverage will dominate the news and we will be hard pressed to find any coverage at all on Jet-Gate in the mainstream media.

The fact is that Jet-Gate would prove to be disastrous if Senator Obama were caught in such a circumstance, and following are several reasons why.

First, as noted by ABC on August 24, 2007 (August '07 was the month in which McCain started using his wife's corporate jet), "Early in the campaign McCain pledged he wouldn't take flights on private corporate planes."

Despite this pledge, the jet McCain was using even as that story hit the wires was, according to the N.Y. Times report, owned by "Hensley & Company, through a holding company, King Aviation. Mrs. McCain is the chairwoman of Hensley, which is one of the country’s biggest distributors of Anheuser-Busch products." This could not be clearer. McCain was tooling about in a corporate jet which he had access to because of his wife.

McCain thinks he can score political points by insisting that Obama uphold a supposed pledge to only accept public financing in the general election, which pledge Obama never actually made. Just imagine the uproar from the McCain campaign (and of course Senator Clinton would be adding volume to the Republican assault on Obama) if it turned out that Obama skirted federal election law while breaking a pledge from early in the campaign. There can be no doubt that the talking heads would be savaging Obama over such a transgression. But when McCain does this type of thing, you have to scan the lefty blogosphere for any real commentary on the event because the mainstream media can't get over their Wright obsession.

Here is another way that this story shows that the media just adore McCain. You may remember back when McCain's campaign was down and out and there was a flood of media stories about the shoestring operation which he had been reduced to. Here's one example of a cream puff story by a local reporter in New Hampshire:
[T]he Straight Talk Express bus has been sidelined due to a lack of campaign money.

McCain... is flying commercial to campaign stops in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and he travels with the smallest cadre of aides.

[McCain] is enjoying the leaner campaign that requires him, literally, to carry his own bags
This story was filed on August 10, 2007... which just so happens to be the very month in which McCain started using his wife's corporate jet. Believe you me, this wasn't the only story about McCain's becoming the commoner in his travel schedule. There were stories about him standing in line waiting to catch a flight, campaign supporters giving him rides from the airport to campaign events because the campaign could not afford local transportation... and so on and so forth.

It is now very apparent that McCain was able to foster an image as the hard scrabble shoestring budget campaigner. As soon as that image had settled into the media narrative, he started accepting perks from his wealthy wife that hardly matched the narrative, but were there any stories about John breezing around the country on a corporate jet? Of course the answer to that question is a resounding no. So it's a big story when McCain makes a show of traveling coach and carrying his own luggage, but no reporters seem to notice for the next several months that he is mysteriously arriving at events without having traveled with the little people. Did the reporters think that McCain was being beamed to his destination, or did they lose interest once McCain started breaking campaign pledges and benefiting from the largess of his wildly wealthy spouse?

In fact, McCain has used these supposed campaign travails to demonstrate that he is in touch with everyday working folk. As recently as April 22 he was in Ohio telling the crowd that his roughing it early on meant that he felt their pain in struggling from paycheck to paycheck. The difference here is that when McCain didn't want to struggle along like the working poor do, he could place a call to Cindy and have a corporate jet at his beckoning. The working poor don't have such a luxury. McCain says that his campaign was given a second chance, but now it turns out that he called in his wealthy wife when the chips were down.

The only thing that could have been more dishonest is if Cindy had made a big show of helping McCain carry his luggage through the terminals and hitch rides to campaign events immediately prior to opening her purse and helping grease the wheels to the Republican nomination.

Oh yeah... since I'm already giving Cindy McCain the what for, let me end by asking the reader one simple question. What do you think would have happened if Michelle Obama had been caught plagiarizing recipes, and posting them on Obama.com as "family favorites"?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Defending The (Seemingly) Indefensible

Reverend Jeremiah Wright has given an interview to Bill Moyers and the media has taken this chance to commence pounding on the Obama/Wright target again. There are several segments of past Wright sermons being used against Obama, but the most damaging is the one where he reaches a crescendo, shouting: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strike law and then wants us to sing God Bless America. Naw, naw, naw. Not God Bless America. God Damn America! That's in the Bible. For killing innocent people."

It is simply a given in today's political environment that the mass exposure of such a statement will disqualify the speaker, and by extension anyone associated with the speaker, from any possibility of serving in public office. But... believe it or not there are very fundamental precepts of Judaism, Christianity and, I presume, Islam which Reverend Wright may call upon to buttress his inflammatory statement.

The mainstay conservative fundamentalist preachers very commonly use the same precept, if not the inflammatory language. The reverends Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson famously claimed that 9/11 was Gods punishment for the ACLU, Pagans, lesbians, abortion and various other social issues. Reverend John Hagee still refuses to recant his position that Hurricane Katrina was Gods wrath upon New Orleans because of a gay pride parade that was scheduled to take place.

The traditions which lead preachers to thunder about the punishment of God upon a sinful nation is hardly a modern day phenomena. In fact this tradition has roots directly connected to the days of the old testament prophets who caused a lot of problems for the rulers of their times. Ahab was the unfortunate king when the prophet Elijah started denouncing the religious duality of the nation of Israel. When Ahab met Elijah the King of Israel called him "thou troubler of Israel". This would be the equivalent of President Bush denouncing the Reverend Wright as being un-American. I'd be willing to bet that if the people who automatically think that Wright was wrong to condemn America could be beamed back into a past life they would be shocked and appalled at that loud mouthed Elijah fellow. Just to prove Ahab's point on how much of a troubler of Israel he was, Elijah then personally slew all of the prophets of Baal... which would probably be frowned upon in modern times, and actually did land Elijah in hot water with Israels first lady... who lent her name (Jezebel) to women of loose moral character from that time until this.

When the kings son sent soldiers to arrest him, Elijah called down fire upon them, killing two groups of fifty. Can you imagine the outrage in this nation if a wild eyed overtly unpatriotic and wanted preacher man ever oversaw the deaths of 100 law enforcement or military personnel sent to arrest him? Imagine the uproar if all the ATF agents sent to arrest David Koresh had been slaughtered, and Koresh fled to Mexico and escaped prosecution. Yet most main stream Jews, Christians and presumably Muslims are certain that Elijah was a man of God, divinely inspired and worthy of veneration as a true prophet.

Elijah is hardly the only example of old testament prophets telling the state of Israel or the kings who lead Israel that they were doomed to various punishments by God for wrong behavior. But this post is already turning into a book so I'll forgo compiling more examples...

Which brings us to the modern day examples of preachers warning America of impending doom, or pointing the finger at some portion of society they do not agree with as responsible for calling Gods judgement upon the neighborhood. The particular message about Gods role in national suffering from Hagee, Robertson, Falwell and Wright are essentially the same, save that Wright comes from a different political perspective, and the word which Wright uses is commonly accepted as a vulgarity. Compare the message of Wright: God damn America for killing innocent people, with the message of Pat Robertson: being struck by terrorists and natural disaster is Gods retribution for "those who shed innocent blood". It seems to me that the only difference between making one socially acceptable and the other a social outrage is the political perspective of the preacher in question.

Does anyone call Robertson's, and/or Hagee's love of America into question? It certainly seems to be a given that they are patriotic. In fact I'm certain Elijah was patriotic as well. All of these firebrands just have impassioned beliefs about what is or isn't the right way forward for their nation. And I for one am willing to extend the same benefit of the doubt to Reverend Wright.

It may come down to purely a question of the vulgarity which Wright uses in his message. In fact, I do find that sort of language coming from the pulpit to be startling. However, if proper language is the only objection, we have come a long way towards understanding Wright's meaning. Hearing a preacher curse should hardly serve as a reflection on the parishioners of that preacher.

Besides, reluctant as I am to go here because this is partially me playing devils advocate... there is a case to be made that what Wright said was what he meant in the literal sense. Damn may be used literally, in proper context, and not considered a vulgarity, as demonstrated many times in the bible. In modern society the expression used by Wright would typically be used in an off handed context not literally dealing with God's opinion on the issue in question. Yet Wright was preaching on Gods reaction to a nation killing innocent people. It is most likely his opinion that the expression he used literally meant just what Wright intended to say.

Be that as it is, I think that it was appropriate that Obama disavowed the Wright remarks. I don't appreciate that type of sentiment from the right wing preachers, and I'm not about to start liking it from the lefty preachers either. We may be able to trace this type of inflammatory rhetoric back to the old testament but there are many thousands of examples of people who were flat out wrong about what God told them who did more than just prophecy the ruination of their country at the hand of God. Some of these apostates wrought death and destruction on a biblical scale, and this type of mistaken inspiration leads me to doubt the efficacy of firebrand type preachers.

Now we just have to figure out how long it will take McCain to disavow Reverend Hagee's comments, which I must add go far beyond anything I've mentioned in this post.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quite Possibly The Least Intelligent Blather I've Read This Week

Warning! The following is a long winded post which devolves into military history and so on and so forth which you may find completely boring. If you manage to read all the way to the end, you have my admiration.

Check out this bit of back and forth on Megan McArdle's blog at the Atlantic. McArdle has gotten into a bit of a dustup with Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald over the Bush administrations use of torture. In one of the responses on McArdle's blog she writes:
I said that what the Bush administration has done was not the result of choosing what Glenn Greenwald called an "aggressive" war in Iraq. (To be distinguished, presumably, from the peaceful, passive sorts of wars that other countries have.)
I'm certain that McArdle intended for this riposte to be construed as obvious and witty, but she seriously misses the mark. Nearly by definition, if a war is not aggressive it is defensive. Wars may be fought to defend your own nation or another nation we have treaty obligations to defend without being aggressive, so the substance of McArdles half witted parenthetical riposte to Greenwald is manifestly vapid.

Of course one would expect a widely read blogger on a very popular website to take some heat for such a weird statement, and the comments section of the post in question does not disappoint. Unfortunately for McArdle, she chooses to engage one of her commenters in defense of her wrong headed point, and that exchange is as follows:
I thought that a war is supposed to only be fought as a matter of self-defense. If you aren't defending yourself or an ally against aggression, then you are the one initiating violence without cause. And I'm pretty sure that there's a word for killing people without a defensive justification. It starts with the letter M...
Posted by thoreau |
I don't think that's quite right, Thoreau. We weren't defending ourselves against the Japanese or the Germans, who had zero capability to conquer the United States or even inflict much serious harm on us. Nor was the north defending itself against the south, which had no interest in occupying it. We chose those wars, in my opinion rightly, as payback for attacks on our territory that did limited damage to non-military capacity. (And for other reasons besides, of course, but that was at least part of the basic motivation.)
Posted by Megan McArdle
Now there are certainly many examples of past American wars of aggression (the Mexican war and the Indian wars are striking examples, and in fact the crimes committed during the Indian wars in particular provide backing to Greenwald case) but McArdle is widely off the mark in describing the causes of WWII and the Civil War. In fact she so completely twists the causation of those wars as to seriously call the credibility of her opinion on this entire matter into serious doubt.

I am particularly interested in the Civil War, and McArdle's take exactly mirrors that of the southern dead enders and modern day Confederate sympathizers whose favored name for that war is "The War Of Northern Aggression". It is certainly true that the South did not immediately invade the north, but it is also true that President Lincoln was not wrong in asserting his rights as commander in chief of the entire United States of America. In fact the South did initiate hostilities against Fort Sumter after the commander in chief attempted to provision the fort.

One would be hard pressed to favor the terminology of the southern lost cause crowd under any other situation in world history. When one part of a nation attempts to overthrow the central government and establish their own self rule through force of arms, that is the definition of Civil War. It is not aggression for the central government to assert control of their own territories.

The McArdle/lost cause, war of aggression logic provides the building blocks for the recent and widely ridiculed assertion from the wingnuts at Redstate that McCain's 100 years in Iraq makes perfect sense... IF we consider that the United States has peacefully occupied the south, with a standing army, for longer than that!

All of this is certainly fascinating from my perspective, but I'm a big civil war buff and anyone reading this post has probably had their eyes glaze over. So let me move onto the other citation by McArdle in reply to Thoreau. Just to refresh our memories McArdle opens her mouth and inserts her foot with the following sentence: "We weren't defending ourselves against the Japanese or the Germans, who had zero capability to conquer the United States or even inflict much serious harm on us."

This is one of the most patently absurd statements I've ever seen. I feel goofy for even rebutting it to be honest because the history is so obvious. But I suppose if I'm going to flame McArdle for that quote I have to justify my take, so here goes.

Has McArdle ever heard of Pearl Harbor? There is this very famous quote from the president at the time... who said that December 7 1941 was a date which "will live in infamy." It's not like America went willy nilly across the Pacific ocean looking to pick a fight with Japan.

McArdle's take about Japan and Germany posing no real threat to American security is belied by the damage done with the attack on Pearl harbor, as well as the harvest of dead and wounded taken from the ranks of the American services during the course of the war. Nations which don't represent a real threat to America do pretty freaking well when they wipe out our pacific fleet and kill us by the hundreds of thousands... which doesn't even touch on the German near miss with their nuclear weapons program. It certainly was a grave error in judgement when Japan initiated war with America, but they weren't bringing boxing gloves to a gun fight.

As for Germany, I would tend to be more forgiving of McArdle for getting this wrong than I was at the Japan gaffe, because the bit of trivia I'm about to give is hardly as infamous as Pearl Harbor. But the fact is that Germany and Italy declared war upon us four days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The notion that the war would extend to Europe in the days after Pearl Harbor but prior to Germany's declaration of war was hardly a settled issue. The first hostilities between America and Germany were initiated in mid January when German U-boats began patrolling the eastern seaboard and the toll they took on shipping was enormous.

McArdle just digs herself in deeper by asserting that America chose to march into aggressive warfare in the Civil War and WWII "as payback for attacks on our territory that did limited damage to non-military capacity." At this point you just have to throw your hands up and surrender to the dingbattiness. Pearl Harbor was an attack which did "limited damage to non-military capacity"?! Just exactly what does she mean by non-military capacity anyway? Is she under the impression that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was intended as a mighty blow against Hawaii's international sugar distribution network which went horribly awry? McArdle seems to be under the misapprehension that we were facing opponents who learned their methods from the Vikings, Atilla the Hun and General Sherman. The way they meant to defeat us was to rampage throughout the land, bringing ruin to society as we know it... but thank goodness, their success was limited.

It may be the case that McArdle is extremely intelligent and well spoken on many issues, but her take on American military history is simply mind boggling. She would be well served to remember that there are quite often times when the best thing one can do in order make oneself seem more intelligent is to leave ones mouth closed in the first place. I suggest the next time the subject of aggressive vs defensive war and American military history are raised in her presence that she just clam up.

The Mass Media: Right Wing Megaphone

In the last couple of weeks I have found myself feeling... well 'bitter' is a good way to put it, and wondering why I have to go to the left wing blogosphere in order to find sanity in our national discourse. We've known for years that the national media are carrying water for the right wing, but it's really gotten out of hand lately, thanks to the threat they (they being the right wing, and by proxy the corps who run our mass media) perceive in the candidacy of Barack Obama.

Let me just say that if Obama survives this onslaught he will have proven to be one of the most resilient and enduring politicians in this nations history. He is facing a full bore onslaught by the Republicans, and slightly less than half of his own party. The media are doing their best to bring him down. I will just be inspired if he survives and goes on to win the general election.

The role of the media in the full throated attack of Obama was evident again yesterday on Hardball with Chris Matthews. (Oh yeah... What's up with MSNBC making it just about impossible to find transcripts of their daily shows?!) During the segment of his show called the politics fix Matthews focused on two ads which are set to be run against Senator Obama. Both ads have not been aired yet, and the national Republican party along with John McCain are asking that the North Carolina Republican party not air one of the ads. The other ad has been produced by Floyd Brown... who is the sleaze merchant behind the 88 Willie Horton ads. Both ads are targeted at the North Carolina Democratic primary.

What I find galling about the coverage of these ads are not the ads themselves. It is the fact that Hardball saw fit to air both ads on national television. The ad producers are given free national exposure and their ads haven't even been shown in a paid spot in the piddling local markets they are targeted at.

This mirrors the swift boat ads of 2004. The initial swift boat ad was aired in three states following the Democratic convention, until it was pumped around the nation poisoning the discourse with lies and distortion free of charge by the national media.

It would be fine for Hardball and the rest of the national media to discuss political ads but giving these groups national air time which greatly exceeds any time they actually pay for magnifies their message beyond all reason. I don't think there should be a law, but there should at least be a sort of journalistic ethic which does not allow the actual advertisement in question to be given more running time than what has actually been paid for.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Cognitive Dissonance Is Fritzed, And I'm Not Happy

Pennsylvania Democrats have voted to extend the primary debacle at least another two weeks. If they have their way evidently this bloody intra-party warfare will continue through the convention.

There are many ways to spin this outcome. Obama was behind by over twenty points a month ago. This result only cements Obama's position by giving Clinton a mere handful of delegates more than her opponent, in effect moving the race as it was prior to Pennsylvania into territory more favorable for Obama. Clinton had the entire Democratic party establishment in Pennsylvania pulling for her with the one exception of Senator Bob Casey, and she spent part of her childhood in the Scranton area. So Pennsylvania was a tough nut to crack for Obama, and he did as well as could reasonably be expected. Obama goes into the home stretch of this primary in decidedly better financial shape, having driven Clinton into debt during the last couple of weeks.

To be honest though, as hard as I've tried to see the bright side of last nights vote, I can't help but feel a bit peeved about the entire situation. The most irritating thing for me right now is that I'm sick of hearing Republicans from Joe Scarborough to Pat Buchanan to Richard Scaiffe to Rush Limbaugh openly root for Clinton and delight in her successes against Obama. She is providing them with aid and comfort, plain and simple. Anyone with half a brain knows full well that these right wing characters and the people who support their ideals have precisely ZERO probability of voting for Clinton in November.

For example, Crooks and Liars has the video of Pat Buchanan trying to befuddle Rachel Maddow on what the super delegates should really be basing their considerations upon. Buchanan trots out the Clinton camp talking point that Obama isn't beating Clinton in big states, which somehow reflects on Obama's electability against McCain. Now Buchanan has forgotten more than I'll ever know about politics, so he just HAS to know that this is specious logic. Yet there Buchanan is, the long time ultra conservative bomb thrower, authoritatively stating that Democratic superdelegates should not move for Obama, based upon a positively inane Clinton campaign talking point. Rachel Maddow actually has good liberal credentials and more credibility on matters which concern Democrats than Buchanan will ever have, but Buchanan tries to convince the audience that Maddow is misreading the Democratic primary. Just for good measure, Buchanan goes back to his glory days as a cold warrior speech writer, and calls Maddow's dialect Marxist... which really has no meaning but sure sounds all patriotic!

Then there is the wrong headed and oft repeated anti-Obama point by Joe Scarborough which has Joe asserting that what Obama has faced to this point is child's play. In fact Joe has taken to calling Obama a whiner of late because Joe considers a tough campaign to be Kerry swiftboating or McCain in the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary. Those certainly are examples of dirty campaigning, BUT... can there possibly be a more insidious and underhanded campaign smear tactic in today's political environment than to start a whisper campaign that Obama is a secret Muslim? I mean being an openly practicing Muslim would disqualify him from serious consideration for the Presidency, but accusing him of harboring a secret devotion to Islam, a veritable Manchurian candidate with the secret desire to surrender us to our implacable enemy... that is not real dirty beanball? Honestly? Just as a bit of an aside on what is or isn't tough campaigning, let me note that the whole Jeremiah Wright flare up wasn't exactly softball either.

Republicans hyping Clinton when they have no real desire to see her elected is not the only reason I'm feeling a bit on edge today. I'm angry at Pennsylvania for voting for a candidate who told the world six days prior to the vote that she was an admitted liar. The mud which has been flung at Obama mainly has to do with stuff which really has no bearing on his ability to lead the nation. No one I'm aware of has accused Obama of being a flat out liar. I mean what could possibly be more important than the integrity of the candidate. Yet somehow Reverend Wright and a mangled quote about small town America are worse than a bald faced admission from Clinton that she is a liar, plain and simple. Oh yeah... don't forget he's a freaking horrible bowler, which means it is somehow ok to vote for someone who doesn't mind telling the world that she is a straight up liar.

Here's another thing that has me on the verge of throwing a tantrum and demanding that Pennsylvania Democrats turn in their voter registrations. They have validated the filthy rotten stinking campaign being run by Clinton and now we can expect the fetid monstrosity she has wrought on our party to live on for at least two more weeks. Thanks to Pennsylvania Democrats, Republicans around the nation rejoice as they prepare to harvest an abundant crop of anti-Obama talking points for mass consumption in the general election from the fields being planted and tended by the Clinton campaign.

So try as I might, I can't flip the switch for my own cognitive dissonance. The results of the Pennsylvania primary have strengthened the Clinton campaign, damaged the Democratic party and I don't see anyway of putting lipstick on that pig.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Unqualified Success Of G.W. Bush

Andrew Sullivan features the following paragraph from Richard Cohen's column in the Washington Post:
The Financial Times last week billboarded an opinion column "Bush's worst legacy" and wondered whether it was Iraq or fiscal policy. The menu of choices in this case is so vast as to induce vertigo, but let me suggest that Bush's "worst legacy" is what he has done to whatever trust Americans still had in their government. This administration's incessant lying, its secrecy -- its creepy Cheneyism with its petty justifications for torture and violation of privacy -- is its worst legacy, one that will endure long after Wal-Mart opens a branch in Sadr City. Only an idiot would trust this government.
The context of this paragraph is Cohen reflecting on the candidacy of Senator Clinton. Wide majorities of people asked say she is not honest or trustworthy. Cohen believes Senator's Obama and McCain could each restore a little trust in our government but Clinton would have much more difficulty.

Sullivan lifts the above quoted paragraph from all context (normally this charge is pejorative in nature, but it is not intended to be so in this particular case) and headlines his post "What hath Bush wrought". His only commentary is this brief introduction for the quote: "Richard Cohen focuses on the real damage".

It occurs to me that what Bush has wrought is to bring us the end result of the core meaning of conservatism. The goal of the right wing movement since I've been politically aware is to denigrate and devalue the role of government. After Bush has his turn at the helm, our government will be distrusted and loathed more-so than at any other point in American history, including amazingly enough the immediate aftermath of Water Gate.

This is reminiscent of the President's campaign promise to be a "uniter, not a divider". The nation naturally assumed that he meant to unite us in constructive ways, bringing both sides of the political divide together and leading us to solve our problems in a bipartisan manner. To be fair, after seven years of Bush Presidency the nation is united, not divided, but it is in opposition to this ongoing trainwreck of an administration. In fact the disapproval rating of this President is at an all time high as measured by over 70 years of Gallup polls. Yet, when Vice President Cheney answers a question based upon a wide majority of the American people opposing the war in Iraq with the one word answer "so?...", one is left wondering if this administration really gives the slightest care in the world as to how the citizenry thinks about the President.

In fact, given the wishes of the conservative movement that Americans distrust the government we may actually have a situation in which they consider the success of President Bush to be in inverse proportion to his popularity. When it comes to uniting the nation, and turning the populace against faith and trust in their own government, President Bush has been an unqualified success. Maybe future generations of conservatives will look back upon this president in much the same way one considers a soldier who heroically throws themselves upon a live grenade. President Bush insured his own destruction in order to make government a perceived plague upon the land and in order to unite us all. He sacrificed his own good name in order to save America from that horror of horrors, big guvmint, and future generations of conservatives will have to respect that.

Bill Press touches on the lessons of the Bush error in his book 'Trainwreck' by pronouncing that conservatives, as they are currently understood, must never be allowed to lead the nation forever and for all eternity. Press asserts that the conservative take on the role of government should serve as a default disqualifier for good governance, and that Bush's reign is the end result of a self fulfilling prophecy. If conservatives denigrate the worthiness of the governmental institutions set up at various points in our history, when they are called upon to run those functions after an election we can expect those agencies to be mismanaged.

I wouldn't be willing to go so far as Press in calling for the complete disqualification for future leadership by conservatives, but I do think it is not too much to ask that the people chosen to serve their offices do so with the intent of faithfully performing the role envisioned for their job. One would presume that this would include the very top levels of governance, meaning that appointments and nominations for advice and consent be of people understood to be well qualified to serve. Mayhaps with that fundamental understanding as a given going forward, many conservatives would realize that government work in some bureau which they have attacked for years is not for them.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Pro-War Elitists

Glenn Greenwald has written another stellar post in which he destroys Bill Kristol for getting all uppity about Americans not being willing to sacrifice sufficiently to win in Iraq. Kristol's recent whining about sacrifice is a bit odd, considering that he only calls on a very small segment of society to sacrifice, and that segment does not include Kristol's family or himself. In fact Kristol's lament that society is not willing to sacrifice enough to win is perverse, not only because he does not share in the burden, but because he benefits from those who do carry the load. He makes a very good living writing columns, and making the rounds on television calling on more sacrifice.

Greenwald briefly touches upon a truth which I would like to further develop when he writes:
Given that accusations of "elitism" are all the rage, is there anything more definitively elitist -- more repulsively elitist -- than continuing to sermonize to a tiny segment of the population that they must continue to give up everything -- even their lives -- while the sermonizers give up absolutely nothing?
Greenwald labels the call to sacrifice from those who refuse to sacrifice "repulsive elitism", but that hardly scratches the surface. What could possibly be more elitist than the following exchange between ABC News White House reporter Martha Raddatz and Vice President Dick Cheney:
RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.


RADDATZ So? You don’t care what the American people think?

CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.
First, there are not "fluctuations" in the polls. This war has been seen for the disaster it is by wide majorities of the American people for years now. But the larger point here is how blithely the administration just disregards the will of the people if the people do not agree with them. It's like we are a fiefdom being ruled by the unquestionable decree of royalty. If the serfs do not agree with the royalty, so? This attitude nearly defines elitism. Unfortunately, John McCain only promises more of the same: no matter what the people think we are there for the duration.

This arrogant attitude is the height of elitism. President Bush has declared time and again that he doesn't pay attention to the polls. This lack of care about what Americans think may have it's place in certain circumstances but to continuously tweak us for having the wrong opinions by setting policy irregardless of the peoples wishes is the height of elitism. This nation was founded in large part upon the notion that the will of the citizenry would guide the nation. Even if the citizenry of the time was only considered to be land owning white males, the founding concept should remain as we evolve in our politics.

The administration has even practiced a form of generational elitism, claiming that the threat posed by terrorism was great enough to revoke traditions and constitutional precepts which guided this nation for over 230 years. The threat was not great enough to have a war tax in order to pay for Bush's Iraq bungle. There was no need to ration foodstuffs or oil, or to have a draft... all measures which past generations resorted to in order to respond to the emergencies they faced. So this generation was not asked to actually sacrifice, yet Bush saw fit to mangle several constitutional amendments, and article one of the constitution, while putting article two on steroids...all in secrecy. What sort of twisted elitist outlook lead this administration to dispose of the rule of law and the constitution, remaking the fundamental meaning of our nation in response to a conflict which has not yet claimed 10,000 American lives? Just look at the widespread catastrophic death attendant with America's past national crisis' and try to convince me that Sept. 11 meant the Bush administration had to toss away our national heritage to keep us safe, while calling upon us to go shopping in order to do our part in the war effort.

The elitism of the Bush administration goes beyond domestic politics. America now purports to determine which foreign citizens may be disappeared from their own nations, tortured, held without charge and given perfunctory show trials allowing evidence gained by the torture of the accused and others to be used against them. There was a time not long ago when American citizens could count upon our government to defend us from the depredations of foreign governments. But now, because of the Bush administrations wretched policy's, we are witness to the top legal minds of the State Department being expressing confusion as to whether or not Americans would be considered torture victims if they were waterboarded by a foreign government. All of this because the Bush administration found that the Geneva conventions were "quaint". This reeks of elitism. Geneva was lawfully ratified and guided our international conduct for decades prior to the Bush administration, yet they determined to do away with those conventions in secret because they could not be held to codes of international conduct which did not allow them to torture detainees.

This administration was boorish and impudent with our longtime allies who disagreed with us over our invasion of Iraq. This President has instituted a distinctly imperialistic approach to foreign policy, named the Bush doctrine, which policy purports to give America rights no other nation in the world is allowed: The right to engage in pre-emptive war based only upon the perception of threat against our interests. They have even disdained the longstanding policy of this nation during the cold war for no American first use of nuclear weapons. We have loudly condemned nations going to war without having been first attacked themselves, and we would freak if a nation nuked another nation in a first strike. George Sr. termed this the new world order, but George Jr. flushed the new world order and replaced it with good old fashioned bellicose imperialism. All of these policies have been wrought by an insidious mindset that Bush inherently knows what is best, that he is the actual hand servant of God, and to question the efficacy of Bush's ways demonstrates weakness. The result of these policies wrought by the elitist attitudes of the administration during the last seven years has caused lasting harm to Americas international image and standing.

Frankly, the Bush administration and their water carriers can not help but be elitist in order to continue this travesty. They MUST disparage the opinion of the wide majority of the American people, and the international community with their curtly snide one word "so" responses when confronted with the will of the people. The neocons pad their wallets while calling on a slim portion of the populace to continue sacrificing.

So ask me which type of elitist I think will be more harmful to the nation. Someone who puts the wrong sauce on a southern dish and couldn't bowl himself out of a wet paper bag, (I can't believe I brought that up for no good reason) or someone determined to ignore the opinions of a wide majority of the American people in order to keep us involved in a manifestly disastrous military quagmire for the foreseeable future? I think the tone of the question probably betrays my answer...

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