Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A la laterne!

Several of my friends, along with the online liberal community, have publicly complained about the junior Senator from Illinois' recent flight from leftist ideals (and even common-sense American ideals) on items as different as the FISA bill-now-law and his Iraq policy. And as an unreconstructed populist and low-class rabble rouser, I have a certain amount of sympathy with that sentiment.


It's worth remembering that it's not about the American Idolatry we've made our politics into; this isn't about electing the Bright New Hope, the "Good King".

Our forebearers would remind us that the cure for a weak, foolish and depraved old king......is NOT a handsome, charismatic young king......but Revolution!

I'm not talking Laura Bush's head on a pike like the Princesse de Lamballe. But we were founded as a nation of rebels, dammit - cautious rebels, wealthy, propertied Enlghtenment-gentlemen-rebels, to be sure, but rebels all the same. We have spent much of the rest of our nation's history running from that. But there are times when you have to stop running and start fighting or lose everthing worth running to.I am not hopeful that we can reverse the slide into oligarchy and the Imperial Presidency that has characterized the U.S. since the end of the New Deal in the late Seventies. But if we fight the worst we can be is conquered. To simply throw off the citizen in our craving for a "change" from an ignoble leader to a noble one is to voluntarily put the shackles of a subject on ourselves.


sheerahkahn said...

"To simply throw off the citizen in our craving for a "change" from an ignoble leader to a noble one is to voluntarily put the shackles of a subject on ourselves."

I would have to agree, FD, it seems to me that we need to ask ourselves a very important question...are we exchanging one incompetent, wannabe tyrrant for a a competent one?
I'm not saying Obama is, or has designs of continuing the imperialness of the Presidency, no, rather I'm saying is that we all should ask ourselves that question before we find ourselves in the voting booth.

The Minstrel Boy said...

any society which does not suppose the people good and the magistrate corruptible, is evil.


my goal is to strangle the last king with the living guts of the last priest.


pluto said...

Well said, Chief. Do you have any advice other than the usual (get involved in the election process) on how to do this?

The very little I've dabbled in politics proves to me that the most short-sighted, self-serving politicians in the world are the grass-roots supporters of national candidates. They've drunk more than their fair share of the kool-aid and all they want to hear is how much money you're going to give their candidate.

FDChief said...

Pluto: I, too, am both disappointed and disgusted with the craven behavior of the national parties. That's why I say that I am pessimistic about our chances to reform the system from within. Seydlitz had a good comment on the last post over at "buggieboy" where he noted that the big questions for liberal democracy in the past century are the viability of popular democracy where the intelligence and diligence of the People is in doubt and the power and influence of the Oligarchy is overwhelming.

I think that our national government is heading to the point where we will consider the Senate of Imperial Rome a model of probity and political efficiency by comparison.

It's not the players, it's the game we've constructed. And the game has too much inertia, too much money, too much corruption, for us out here in the hustings to influence.

I'm starting to think like a Late Roman in the outlying provinces. We need to start creating John Robb's "Resilient Communities" in our part of the country. Ensure that we control the local influence of the large corporations, such as the energy giants, to prevent too much reliance on the national power grid. Make sure our land use laws preserve enough farmland close to our population centers to provide food source continuity in the case of the almost inevitable petroleum price/availibility shocks. Fund our education and research establishments to provide us with the technological advantage we'll need.

Work for and elect people who will start to think in terms not just of the national but of the local. Example - it does Oregon no good if our National Guard and their equipment are expended fighting a Sisyphean war in Central Asia. We need to elect Senators and Congressmen - and governors who will appoint Adjutants General - who will fight to keep our state's emergency response and domestic military power viable here.

I love me some Obama - at least relative to ol' McSame. But I don't expect him to Save Me and I don't expect him to reverse the GOPerization of my country. The institutionalization of the 1970s and 1980s "tax revolts" mean an inevitable fiscal pileup down the road, and given that We the People now expect largesse out of the public purse means that we can never regain any sort of financial soundness short of disaster or violent revolution.

basilbeast said...

A little humor, if you wish.

Paste the permanent link for this post here, and you will discover how good ( 73%, actually ) or evil it is.



basilbeast said...

ETA b/c too quick a click.

If you look at who Obama is surrounding himself with, it's the usual suspects.

If we want our government to reflect what we want, we just have to keep plugging away at it even if our goals are not realized until after we're gone.

I think it's what our American Dream, however hokey that concept sounds, is all about.

Do what you can to get the best you can, and work from there.

( No more than 30% Evil, betcha! )


pluto said...

Good site, basilbeast. Thanks for lifting the tone a bit.

We're thinking parallel thoughts, Chief. My part of the country fell out of its usual self-reliant governmental style to make an impression on the national scene for the last few years but something interesting happened in 2006. The voters threw out a lot of the idiots and we're beginning to enjoy the fruits of good government again. This is particularlly important because the clock is ticking down a lot faster than my worst case predictions.

Barring a major miracle Fannie and Freddie will become dependents of the US government next week and that will accellerate the rate of our economic descent. The government reading of US inflation topped an annual rate of 21 percent last month due to high oil and food prices. Yes, you read that right, and the government tends to under-report the numbers.

I don't think it will stay that high but that kind of inflation is a wallet-killer no matter how long it lasts.

FDChief said...

basil: Man, those whacky Finns...always cutting up!

(An old Finnish buddy of mine once quoted me an example of Finnish humor.

On a winter morning in 1940 the Finnish recon team leader has crouched motionless in the stand of firs watching an endless column of Soviet troops, trucks, tanks and artillery roll forward into Finland. Shaking his head he lowers his binoculars and turns to his assistant team leader.

"So many of them and so few of us..." he says mournfully "...how will we ever bury them all?"

Pluto: I think you'v nailed it. Our rulers have been playing three-card monte with our economy for thirty years. Any grifter will tell you that you can only run that scam for so long. Eventually the marks run out of cash or you run out of marks. Well, the bill is coming due.

Now, mind, I don't think we'll end with a bang. The current fiscal crisis will be patched over, borrowing ever further ahead, casting even further afield for difficult solutions like Napoleon in 1814 calling the classes of 1817 and 1818, because the legitimate solution: reregulating natural monopolies such as power generation while DEregulating innovative off-grid generation schemes, aggressively pursuing the "next wave" of transportation beyond the ICE, raising tariffs, to help in reestablishng a manufacturing base, busting the influence of the investor and rentier class, raising taxes while cutting entitlements and the "defense budget...these now require a level of political honesty and gravity we have worked tirelessly to eliminate from our electoral process.

I'm starting to lose both confidence and interest in the national parties. Instead I think I need to work right here in Oregon to destroy the most toxic of the Reagan legacies our ballot measure system has produced: the mindless anti-tax idiocy that produced things like Oregon Measure 5, "deficits don't matter", whoring for corporate lucre, moronic single-issue, identity and sectarian politics. I'm thinking that the people I need to be electing are on the county commissions, the state legislatures and the other state officeholders.

basilbeast said...

Some while ago, chief, you wrote about reading and enjoying "driftglass" from time to time.

Here's another that I read from t.t.t.:


This article in particle expands upon my earlier comment about the "usual suspects" Obama has surrounded himself with WRT his foreign policy platform.

These people are derived from the same stock of species from which the Perles, Wolfowitzes et al came from. IMO, they are those people who do see true injustices in the world around them, and want the US to use its tremendous power to do good in the world, to right these injustices.

The problem is, as with any Star Chamber human beings set up, they bring their own private predjudice and bias along with them into their "holier than thou" judgements and condemnations.

Or as St. Paul put it, "All have sinned". But they believe the US is exceptional, the perfect light upon the hill or that we sin less than the rest of the rabble.

So we get the sanctification of Israel, that whatever it takes to keep them safe or whatever they do in their opinion to protect themselves is right. No matter the consequences.

Any means to accomplish these judgements is thereby sanctioned as long as the purpose is pronounced "Holy" and will improve our world.

According to the standards of these people.

And the usual means is military power, because it is perceived as quick, easy, and fun ( "Shock and Awe" folks, the best way to celebrate with fireworks ) to do, IOW "surgical". So what if we do lose a few footsloggers? Have a few high-profile memorial services ( Tillman comes to mind ), and forget about the rest. Pious speeches, victory parades, and the public is happy and will vote for the right people.

The civvies? Who the hell cares about them?

So what to do, sheerahkahn, when the thoughtful and informed citizen enters the booth?

No one's perfect, no candidate, no super Star Chamber, not even the voter. It is a proper question the voter should ask as he casts his vote.

My answer to that question is that there is no comparison between Obama and McCain's confused campaign. Obama's positives IMO include the willingness to listen and having a decent head on his shoulders.

We need to determine the best possible choice we have and then nag like hell.

Maybe "Eternal Nagging is the Price of Liberty" would be the necessary watchword.


basilbeast said...

As usually the case, Digby writes it much better than I.


"There is nothing magical about making the Democratic party more progressive. You have to elect more progressive Democrats and to do that you have to get people who aren't paying close attention, who vote on name recognition, who are reflexively reactionary to vote for them. That's hard. It takes organization and money and persuasive political rhetoric. But there is no other way to do it unless you think that in our two party system, the Republicans are going to be more receptive to the progressive agenda. (And if you do, then I think you are deluded.)"

FDChief said...

Basil: no question, we need to work at getting people who have a clue elected at the national level. Obama (or for that matter, Hillary) would be a good start.

My larger concern, though, is that our national government is now so insulated that those of us without a charitable foundation can no longer make an impression. I read today that a typical U.S. representative stands for something like 750,000 people (compared to a British MP who represents half that many or less). Three-quarters of a million people are just too many - when you're one of 750K you're a statistic, not a person.

I'm not saying there's no hope, just that the institutional biases are tilting against it...