Sunday, September 20, 2009

Global News Opinion: Getting Acquainted I

For several years after the 2004 election The Editor ran a Left-leaning political blog under his own name, the one at the bottom of all these posts. Sheer writer's fatigue, and worsening illness, resulting in his total disability put a stop to it. You will see his opinions here, but only once a week.

He can no longer sustain the pace of daily blogging, and has come to believe that the besetting curse of the politics of our time is the disconnection of political opinions from the realm of evidence, genuine news, and fact. Hence the focus of this blog is on news, not opinion; fact, not free-floating political fantasy; evidence and not argument. And he seeks a like-minded readership--of whatever political views--who wish to ground their thinking in evidence, genuine news, and fact.
But for the sake of truth in packaging, The Editor will take the next several weeks or so giving a broad outline of his opinions, which are still Left-leaning. He does not believe they will matter very much to the functioning of this blog, but he wants anyone who wishes to apply a discount of his political biases to the coinage offered here to be free to do so.

All such things must start with the last Presidential administration and George W. Bush. The events of the past 10 years have made the 20th Century not only history, but ancient history.
We are what we are today largely because of the Bush Presidency. Political figures from the 1990's--Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter--all appear slightly quaint even when they remain active on the political stage. Their photographs are a trifle sepia toned, as it were.
So what does The Editor think of the Bush Administration? His frank opinion of the last Administration is that its philosophy was explicitly anti-American: GWB consistently asserted either directly or through his staff that the President of the United States had the powers of an absolutist king and that the office was essentially above the law. As an educated American citizen [and not a "subject"] The Editor rejects that categorically and he did every thing he could to get the man who asserted it out of public office. As we all know, he failed and only time was able to do what he wished to do. We are massively the worse off for it.

The Bush Administration philosophy of government was precisely the equivalent of Louis XIV’s L’etat c’est moi. This seemed to pass most people by. All anyone from the Bush White House had to do was wave around the word “democracy” and his partisans, at least, were satisfied. But the record is perfectly clear. The Bush White House said that and they meant it. Repeatedly, openly, and blatantly. And they acted on it. Repeatedly, openly, and blatantly. They were the greatest internal threat to real American freedom since John Adams and the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Moreover, I think that the last occupant of the office of President not only lost the “War On Terrorism” but also made it impossible for anyone else to undo the damage. Osama Bin Laden is still around and sending open messages to President Obama. His organization has essentially diffused across the entire Muslim world with no more hope now of being eradicated than America has hope of getting rid of the English Sparrow.
Afghanistan is slowly slipping back into the control of the Taliban, Iraq’s future is still open to question once we cease to prop it up with our troops, and Iran still possesses the same nuclear capability that it openly had when GWB was so hot to destroy phantom Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.
We have fought the two longest shooting wars in America’s history, together and side-by-side. We are still doing it. We have lost the decisive strategic presence in the Middle East that GWB’s father managed to shrewdly arrange for us in the early 90’s. And we have never recovered the same state of military readiness that GWB inherited in 2001.
All of this was simply and solely the result of a concatenation of bad military decisions by the Bush Administration. Period. At every step of the way, if there was a wrong choice, he made it. The first wrong choice was the gullible belief peddled to him by the neo-Conservatives that the world’s biggest military force would permit him to succeed in doing absolutely anything he wanted to internationally.
Just like the President could do absolutely anything he wanted to domestically, because the office was above the law.
Finally, we very nearly lost the entire banking system of the United States and maybe that of the whole world on his watch. Why? Well, for once, not due solely to him. But he was just as much the champion of markets being freed from government regulation and therefore from reasonable safeguards as any of his fellow Republicans.

It was an economic philosophy unsupported by anything but windy generalities like, “The boon for the consumer, choice, is the bane of the producer.” and “Rules and regulations stifle the up and comers.” Both of these are true in some cases but not true in others. And they used them more often as a substitute for thought than as a stimulus of it. Republicans have attempted to run the country on such glittering generalities, unchecked by observation or by thought. And their attempts to do this over the past 28 years have utterly destroyed the country I grew up in.
When markets consist of relatively evenly matched producers playing on a level field, then, yes, “Rules and regulations stifle the up and comers.” But most markets do not stay that way for very long unless rules and regulations are in place. Money markets do not regulate themselves. Period. Left to themselves they generate wild speculative bubbles that burst and leave all but a handful the poorer for it. Period. We’ve just watched it happen.
GWB did everything he could to change the law to permit people to invest their Social Security in the Stock Market. God help us if he had succeeded. I don’t think that any action by anyone could have prevented a banking collapse and another worldwide Great Depression if so many ordinary Americans had lost so much retirement capital at the same time. They could have lost almost all of it, had their Social Security been invested in this market.
The Editor would also remark that the Bush Administration took especial care to make sure that our fine ex-President never even heard a dissenting view or saw anyone who held one. His rallies were packed to the gills with his cheerleaders, and no one else, and even his motorcades were carefully routed away from the “free speech zones” where people who opposed him were forcibly confined.

This is a much smaller issue, though still anti-American. It contrasts most unfavorably with the recent example of President Obama and those Democratic public officials who cared enough about “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” to personally attend such assemblies and attempt to give an accounting of their views in the so called Town Meetings about the reform of health care.

The behavior of the partisans opposed to “Obamacare” in those Town Meetings was not very close to rational debate on the proposal’s merits. And “Obamacare” itself has more in it of angry rhetoric than rational argument. Nor did that fine South Carolina representative shouting “You lie!” in the halls of Congress during President Obama's recent speech there contribute materially to the rationality of the debate.
As far as I can see, these things are deliberate and essentially intended to make rational debate on issues impossible. And I think they have been so at least since the Soreloserman taunts of the election of 2000, if not further back than that.
But despite having to deal what what was essentially bad faith, those Democratic officials did not seek the cozy insulation from dissent sought by GWB. For this they deserve everybody's gratitude, though The Editor does not think that they will exactly receive it.
Those who think little of government will do it badly and those who's concern for "democracy" starts with their mouth and ends with their ears simply cannot run our country very well.
One of the most destructive things about the past ten years is that everybody seems to have forgotten how representative government is supposed to work, largely because the President and the Congressional majority party really didn’t want it to work, and stopped it from working virtually every chance they could.

Thank heavens. Had they actually understood how to govern America, the agenda they espoused would have eroded our institutions and our lives beyond repair.
So The Editor opposed the Bush Administration for real reasons of eight years of flat out bad public policy, reprehensible government philosophy, military failure, and chronic political failure to advance even the agenda of his own Party despite the nearest thing to absolute philosophical control of all three of the branches of Government this country has ever seen. Franklin Roosevelt did not have this. Lyndon Johnson did not have this. And they are the only ones who even come close.

So make of it what you will.

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