Monday, October 23, 2006

That's why

Frequent commenter TA gives me hard time here for daring to dream that a Democratic takeover in Congress will make a difference. It is even worse than that: He accuses me of exactly what I pin on the wingnuts: basing my approach on faith.


Is the sun going to come up in the morning? How do you know?

Here is what Nancy Pelosi says is the plan for her first 100 hours as Speaker:
Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds _ "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.

To do that, she said, Bush-era tax cuts would have to be rolled back for those above "a certain level." She mentioned annual incomes of $250,000 or $300,000 a year and higher, and said tax rates for those individuals might revert to those of the Clinton era. Details will have to be worked out, she emphasized.

It could be a bucket of bilgewater. Pelosi and the Democrats could walk away from all of it. And if they do, I will freely acknowledge TA's greater cynicism on my way to a secure undisclosed location. But just as we know the sun came up yesterday, and understand that the mechanism that caused it to do so is likely to repeat, we know that Democrats have voted for most or all of those things before, and that most of those things are strongly supported by a majority of Americans. And because the "money talks" system has always favored and will always favor the Republicans, it is in the interest of the Dems to change that system.

Thus there are some solid reasons why I feel cautiously optimistic that the sun will indeed come up on November 8th.

If that be faith, so be it.

Update: Bowers @ MyDD makes me look apocalyptic by comparison. His take on the Democratic surge:
The reason that there is near unanimity among "Democratic insiders" that they have to oppose Bush and the war when, thirteen months ago, Rahm Emmanuel would not even mention Iraq when asked about the Democratic agenda, is because of the Connecticut Senate primary. As much as I would like to credit Adwatch and the Candidate Memo, I think the only reasonable conclusion is that Democratic leaders finally learned this lesson over the summer on the ground in Connecticut. The reason that Democrats are running against the war nationwide is because Ned Lamont and the progressive movement taught them the price they will pay among their own base if they fail to do so. Everyone remembers the things that brought Lieberman down during the primary: failure to oppose the war, and inability to stand up to George Bush. The media constantly called Lamont's campaign a single-issue, anti-war campaign. Everyone remembers the Kiss Float and the commercial where Lieberman's words come out of George Bush's mouth.

Ned Lamont's victory in that primary changed the direction of the Democratic Party in this election, and not just among a few blog fanatics...

It was bloody, and it was exhausting, but Ned Lamont's campaign finally brought the Democratic leadership to where the netroots, and the Democratic rank and file, have been for a long time. The war and Bush are not any less popular in October of 2006, when Democrats have decided to run on Iraq, than they were in October of 2005, when Democrats thought ignoring Iraq was the best option. The difference is that the progressive movement and Democratic base taught the Democratic leadership a much-needed lesson. There is certainly no guarantee they will remember that lesson once the election is over (I give it about an even chance), and there are probably still quite a few Democratic insiders who said "Bush" because, even now, they would rather contract the plague instead of talk about Iraq. But the reason they have finally come to where the Democratic base, and the rest of the country, is on both Bush and Iraq is because of Connecticut. If Democrats win in 2006, it will be our accomplishment, and it will be Ned's accomplishment.

I think Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Keith Olbermann will deserve a nod, too. But I'll wait two weeks to hand out the palmares.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the best of all possible worlds (or at least on this one in November), the Democratic leadership will still be decidedly non-democratic. Thus, the obvious split between the rank and file and the "leadership" who are responsible for so many Democratic losses of the past. It's not just that they have a different agenda than the rest of the people, they have a different LOSING agenda. The Democrats can lose even when they control the executive, judicial and legislative all at once. The Republicans have NO ARGUMENT, except fear… never have had and never will. I shouldn't need to list the various fears they peddle (each tailored to a specific group) but the point is, all the Democrats ever had to do was overcome stupid fears peddled very clumsily. Now if they couldn't do that so as to assume and remain in power for so long that people would be surprised to learn there had ever been a Republican party (and unfortunately we do know there is one), please show me where they, specifically the "leadership", have changed recently (never mind in the last 50 years) so as to attempt to climb the molehill of toppling baseless fears used to manipulate the public. The Democrats are the shills in the big casino of "democracy" (hah!) and you will be disappointed yet again. The Democrats are to democracy what the Christian right is to Christian values, a shadow on the wall. Who among the leadership is poor? There is your answer. Where is the Democratic party's Evo Morales? I've never seen one. More importantly, if you come from a poor background and look like a comer, the system is specifically DESIGNED to corrupt you, quickly, and you never get a chance to look back. So, who will fix that?

To wit: with electronic everything these days, why wouldn't Pelosi (a certain disaster, but that's another argument) be proposing that in the first 100 days the "leadership" will establish an unskewable, electronic tote board for people to weigh in on, AND that the congressional "leadership" will behave according to the sentiment expressed therein? It always bothered me that in school they kept *saying* 'democracy', but we needed to learn about the workings of a 'representational republic'. WTF??? There are no more reasons, none, nope, not any more, for not instituting the will of the people directly. Of course doing so would be an even bigger disaster than is now the case (there's a good reason they are called the great mass of "unwashed"), but it would be an interesting change for a while. Then maybe we could finally get some people to start thinking about how world and national events actually affect them. Oh well, that would be me fantasizing, and I don't do that. Too dangerous. A small aside: Unfuckable electronic voting that is both transparent and yet provides each person with a secret vote is dead easy. Dead easy. All it requires is someone who wants it. Yes, unfuckable. Anyone who says it can't be done is a monarchist.

To sum up: When torture can be defined out of existence, and there is not a solid, unanimous boycott of congress by all Democrats, there is no reason to think they won't just define their way out of those promises you are clinging to. You ARE depending on faith, only, in that particular religion you do get to see what happens after you die and go to "heaven" (Democratic control of congress) and it won't be pretty. In the world and timeframe of human affairs, the Democrats' screwing the pooch is even more reliable than the sun rising. There's your fact of the day.


4:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be too cautious "Thus there are some solid reasons why I feel cautiously optimistic that the sun will indeed come up on November 8th." Optimism can lead you straight to disappointment, but it also opens the eyes, mind, and heart to possibilities. We need to think about those, too.

My well-founded pessimism about the the Democrats' ability to clean up the bloody mess that the Republicans have made of the world doesn't prevent me from recognizing that every success will still be important and that sometimes what we want is also what we need: Like it or not, the country will remain burdened with the consequences of the Bush administration's actions long after the perpetrators face justice here, in the Hague, or in hell.

Pelosi's first steps all make sense. They also serve to call Democrats back to their principles before they put on their protective gear and respirators and open the doors on what the Republicans have been keeping hidden. The whole country will reel from the stink.

I'm encouraged because I don't think the Democrats will have to rouse sentiment for investigation or rein it in. It will be simply and clearly necessary. The first reason will be one we already know: Not only is the administration morally, legally, and politically bankrupt; it is also financially bankrupt. Even if we reclaim our principles, our respect for the law, and our political system, we will have to deal with crushing debt. Congress will have to stop the leaks, which means it will have to find out where the money has gone, where it continues to leak, and who's taking it.

If the Republicans had simply dominated power and enjoyed its privileges within the law, they would be able to go home and count their money while the Democrats cleaned up their mess, fixing the infratructure and paying off the victims. Where the Republicans really got themselves into trouble was by combining political domination with theft and murder, which always look bad.

Once the ball starts rolling with Pelosi's 100-day program, all sorts of doors may pop open. For the time being, I'll maintain a sunny outlook and hope that other Democrats do the same. Just think of all the light.

6:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mary Poppins lives!!

7:21 AM  
Blogger bluememe said...

I'm no optimist. Nor am I a utopian. Damn near every Democrat I can name -- especially the ones who represent my blue state and Congressional district -- has done or said things that disgust me.

I am guided here primarily by the first law of ditches -- stop digging. The Dems are not saints, even by comparison. But (a) I think they will stop most of the digging because (b) in many ways doing the right thing will finally be the path of least resistance. I think we might just be in one of those amazing times when self-interest and common good will align.

And a spoon full of sugar helps the...

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it. Real engagement.
Go Bleu!

However, if people responded/were guided by what was good for them, or were even motivated by/fell down the path of least resistance, then how the hell did we get here? Et tu? (Or... maybe the path of least resistance isn't what you think)

Anyone for a rousing chorus of "The sun will come up tomorrow....?"


1:49 PM  
Blogger bluememe said...

We got where we are because the Iraquagmire benefits the people who put us there. They got where they are because they knew how to manipulate the gullible, and convince them to follow their path of least resistance.

(I have finally reached the point where I no longer need to make new arguments -- I can just string together links to previous work. I guess that is now my path of least resistance.)

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...bluememe said...

We got where we are because the Iraquagmire benefits the people who put us there. They got where they are because they knew how to manipulate the gullible, and convince them to follow their path of least resistance.

(I have finally reached the point where I no longer need to make new arguments -- I can just string together links to previous work. I guess that is now my path of least resistance.)...

OK? What does that mean? The Democrats DON'T know how to manipulate the gullible? Huh? Or, they're no good at it? Or, people are gullible (gee, I thought I made that point in my original comment). History starts with the invasion of Iraq????? So, all of this is going to lead to a country/world worth living in how?

John, you must be sleepy. Take a nap and try again. Least resistance and gullibility are largely unrelated. Least resistance should be identifiable as the path which allows a desirable goal (one that actually benefits oneself and not merely promises to) to be achieved at the least expense. At least that's how I define it. c.f. Occam's razor

Lots of philosophical moolah has been wasted trying to pin down how people can see their own best interests, but it hardly seems arguable that one's actual best interests are exactly the path of least resistance. What say you?


Btw, thanks for cleaning up the comment space.

8:15 PM  
Blogger bluememe said...

"it hardly seems arguable that one's actual best interests are exactly the path of least resistance."

Are you saying they are the same, or that they aren't? If you think they are, please doulbe check with the nearest cigarette smoker.

"What does that mean? The Democrats DON'T know how to manipulate the gullible?"

No. By and large, they don't. THe results of the last several elections seem rather eloquent proof of that -- polls consistently show that people favor most of the Democratic agenda, but consistently vote against it. Not only are the Dems incapable of manipulation, they can't even counter it with popular truths.

"Who among the leadership is poor? There is your answer."

Ah, now who is being utopian?

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the bad guys control the definitions of words and phrases used in public discourse (in part because they own the media), it makes it a little more difficult to keep the conversation on track. If "water-boarding" is seen as recreational entertainment for armed forces and "path of least resistance" is used to discredit someone who has become addicted to one substance or another due to the strongest of efforts by industry/medicine and politics, or a racist political advertisement gets described as *cute* and there are no white guys swinging from tree limbs with the help of a noose, then we need to redouble our efforts just to speak meaningfully to each other. However, I believe I do know what you mean by path of least resistance, and it's a common confusion.

The path to freedom lies in understanding the distortions (posing as truths) that keep one locked up mentally. Those distortions are a lot cheaper than handcuffs and a helluva lot more effective. The real meaning of 'path of least resistance' IS synonymous with following the most efficient, self-set course toward one's best interests, not withstanding the difficulties of living with various addictions such as cigarettes, love, politics, dreams of social equality, etc. Don't know if you smoke, drink or do hard stuff, but ask anyone who does and even the most ardent supporters of these substances will readily tell you how costly (and yes, deadly) they are. So, how can that be the path of least resistance? 'Love' was lumped in there because there are so many 'loving' relationships in which he hits her and she keeps coming back for more. How can that be the path of least resistance? This 'punishment brings us closer' system is a well understood psychological phenomenon. "How do I know you still love me if you don't beat me?" Ask Dr. B. You said "… doing the right thing will finally be the path of least resistance". Put correctly, it is ALWAYS the path of least resistance, but fear, confusion, addiction and venality can make it seem otherwise. The idea that 'least resistance' is anything else is just one of many distortions that needs to be refuted.

As for Democrats knowing how to manipulate the gullible: if the Democratic leadership doesn't know how to do it, how have they been able to resist the will of the Democratic masses so long? Their misbehavior didn't start on 9/11, or when Clinton was elected. The last time I remember them demonstrating principle over convenience was when they put forward Stevenson. Of course, because Adlai lacked the interpersonal and public skills to be seen to be effective, they were idiots to do so. It is likely there were other choices at that time that had skill, personality and integrity. But, at least no one was asking how the leadership were gonna get even more rich and powerful because they nominated a guy with integrity. That the leadership gave up after that and said "Well, let's put forward someone who is at least electable…," was the nasty old 'beast' speaking. If that's your starting point for the recent history of the Democratic party, the rest is what we have seen for the last 50 years. And, THEY ARE STILL DOING THAT TODAY (Gore, Kerry, etc)! They're just doing it badly.

Let me see if I understand your last point. Poor people, or people from a poor background don't have the time/intellect/family history/freedom-from-threats-to their-livelihood to understand the issues, live modestly and be leaders with integrity? Is that what you're saying? Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. What was my utopian misstep in putting forward the idea that that is what a leader should look like?

One thing that has been brought home to me recently (yet again) is that all bureaucrats everywhere know one thing for sure. It is their catechism, the prayer before bed each night and there total modus operandi: If we become efficient, they won't need so many of us! Politicians are nothing if not bureaucrats in (sometimes) good suits. There will NEVER be an agreed method for measuring what politicians do, and we all know why.


2:30 PM  

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