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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Saturday, 4 March 2006
Dialog: Changing Things
Topic: NOW WHAT?

Dialog: Changing Things

The Just Above Sunset email "salon" (a virtual discussion group, not a gathering of folks in powdered wigs in an early eighteenth-century Paris drawing room), has some things to say.

This bit of satire started them off -
In other news, the United States has formally announced that it has absolutely no idea what to do when the leader of the country is both condescending and incurious.

John Rathskellar, spokesperson for "The Country Formerly Known As the Good Guys", said in a semi-official announcement (while standing in line for a Venti at Starbucks): "No legal remedy exists to remove from power a person (or persons) who is a failure on as many levels as the current President appears to be. Had he received oral pleasure from one of his interns we would run his ass through the ringer, but as it is he's free to destroy the nation as he sees fit to do so. We explained this to him on several occasions but he seemed to be baffled by our carefully chosen words, and we let him go back to his magazine reading."

Mr. Rathskellar further added, "He may indeed destroy everything we cherish in a pluralistic society, but he could do it without really understanding how he was doing it. Stumbling in the dark, really. Just fucking our lives up on the fly. An ad hoc Armageddonist if ever there was one."
Our man in Montreal, Quebec, Canada -
It's not the act that will get a leader removed, but the organization of the opposition.

Republicans were ready for any provocation, and Monica Lewinski was enough. They wanted Clinton out, and they succeeded. Who can say anything against that?

Democrats, and/or anyone not Republican are incapable and ineffectual, in the face of gross transgressions on the American way of life by the Dubya administration.

Ahead of any more 'evidence' against republicans, the real question in America is what is wrong with the non-republicans and their ability to balance power?
Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta -
"... the real question in America is what is wrong with the non-republicans and their ability to balance power?"

And the answer is, a system of government in which any one party that holds the White House and both houses of congress is essentially untouchable.

This is especially true of Republicans, for whom the phrase "it matters not whether you win or lose but only how you play the game" is not so much a guiding principle as is "winning is not the most important thing, it's the only thing!"
Our Man in Rochester, New York -
That the Republicans hold all the cards did not just happen. They didn't just decide it on their own. The ineffectiveness of Democrats (and whomever else) gave them a blank check. They are untouchable because we have let them be untouchable.
Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta -
"... they are untouchable because we have let them be untouchable."

Yeah, that, too.

But my point was that our system should not be such that the minority party gets totally frozen out of the process. I must admit, I'm not crazy about a parliamentary system, but at least there you have the possibility of building coalitions and having votes of confidence, both things our pretty-strictly-two-party, winner-take-all system lack.

There ought to be a provision for at least looking into impeachment, to be voted up or down, possibly with some sort of super-majority needed to shoot it down. This would allow American voters a chance to hold the ruling party's metaphorical feet to the flames, but without allowing frivolous minority attacks to gain solid footing.

But yeah, not even the Democrats -- even as they watch all this from total loser status -- would take to this idea, afraid of blow-back when or if they themselves ever get back in power. It's just possible that if Democratic leaders were to adopt a policy of first considering doing "the right thing" before "the politic thing," they might win the confidence of Americans again, and maybe regain power.

But we've let the Republicans be untouchable by, what, not voting hard enough for Democrats? Are you going to vote for Democrats this year? Me, too. Just like last time. Well, lotta good it did us! But still, you can't blame you and me, so it must be those damn Republicans, especially the ones who keep voting Republican!

That's not it? So maybe it's because the Democrats haven't yet learned to (a) "speak openly about their faith" in public, (b) stop pandering to the gay agenda of wanting gays to be treated like "normal" Americans, or maybe (c) stop talking about abortion all the time? Yeah, our troubles all started when the Democrats told all those Southerners they shouldn't run around lynching black people. And that's when the South walked out on us and never looked back.

Do you suppose if only we could turn back the clock, maybe we could make ourselves winners again? I don't think either one of us wants to do that, even if we could.
Our columnist, Bob Patterson (alias, The World's Laziest Journalist) -
Maybe the Democrats have found the Republicans' "Achilles Heel?" My friends who have been very pro-Bush, seem quite upset with the Dubai thing. Karl Rove has decreed that the 2006 election will be decided on "security."

Well, then, there, Karl, be careful what you wish for.

If the entire roll of the dice will be on security and if Bush insists on the Dubai deal. The Democrats could get a majority in both the House and Senate faster than you can say "Poof! Be gone!"

The Democrats will have to play by "bare knuckles" rules. Let the Republicans drag out all the dirty secrets and let the Democrats respond in kind and then insist that the election be based upon security and point out Bush's secret squirrel aspect to the Dubai deal.

If it takes a bar-room brawl style election, then the Democrats had best prepare to lose a few teeth and get a bloody nose, but win the fight.

Otherwise... Bush Wins Again! (and again, and again and again...)
Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta -
I think I don't agree.

Harking back to what I said earlier, "It's just possible that if Democratic leaders were to adopt a policy of first considering doing 'the right thing' before 'the politic thing,' they might win the confidence of Americans again, and maybe regain power," I'd feel more comfortable finding out what the right thing is in this case before chasing the blood in the water.

I personally don't have enough information yet to form an opinion on this Dubai Ports thing, but so far, I find myself mostly agreeing with Bush!
The Hollywood host -
I was bitter about this in yesterday's blog post in the India section -

"Well, there is not a thing that can be done about this in this country, as his party controls the congress and his judges sit on the bench at all levels. And too, the club members can do nothing about this deal with India. What are the going to do, hold the breath until they turn blue, or issue "statements" or a reprimand? So what?

"It's a Texas thing. We elected him because he's a cowboy who slaps around wimps and does what he wants. The electorate seems to have felt that's what we need in this awful world full off swarthy people with odd religions who want to kill us all..."

As you know, I do a lot of reading of opinion and theory and all that wonk stuff. Rick is right about the turmoil with the Democrats now - what do we do to get back in power - get religion, preach war, drop the pro-life stuff, say the poor are poor because they choose to be, sponsor a team in NASCAR with a cool paint job and fancy logos? Friday, in particular, a number of the big-time middle-left blogs are in the middle of a discussion of standing for only one thing in 2008, universal healthcare - good for business, good for the country, and eminently decent. A good way to spend tax dollars. But Hillary Clinton tried that and people remember how she was excoriated for that - no government folks gonna ration my healthcare and limit me, and all the rest.

Of course there's a structural problem, and what Rick suggests makes sense. And yes, it'll never happen. This is the structure we've got.

The problem, aside from the structural issue, is that Rick and the rest of us hold positions and have values that are in the minority. Face the truth. Although the days of lynching black folks are gone, the majority wants gays to just go away, women to stay in their place and be modest, Bush to sneer at the world for us, and the rich to get the goodies, because that's just how it is.

We're out of step. We propose things that "make sense" for the country. The other side appeals to what people "feel" deep down - resentment and fear, and anger that others want something that's "wrong." We may get the majority to agree we're right on so many things, as it's a logical and common sense position we offer on this and that. But the other side always wins because they target what's underneath all the logical stuff - the thousand-times-more-powerful feelings of alienation and anger.

The logical mind versus the emotional id.

We're playing chess while they're playing football.

We don't even know what the game is.
Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta -
Hollywood -
Do I get a prize?
Ah well, feel free to join in by dropping a line to - or you could ask to join the group.

Posted by Alan at 13:09 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 4 March 2006 13:15 PST home

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