Daily Wisdom

February 04, 2007

Why Do Liberals Hate? - Part 2

In response to my last post, our dear friend Elroy asked me a meaningful question. I think it deserves an honest answer, so here goes...

"Why on earth do conservatives think liberals 'hate' all these things? Really. I want to know. --Elroy"

I can only respond to that question as follows:

It is easy to "love" something when you find it attractive, beautiful, iconic, monumental, memorable, unblemished, harmonious, satisfying, worthy, etc. The more that a thing appears to be unattractive, blemished, ugly, stained, disreputable, unharmonious or foul... the less likely we are to "love" it.

When we find something wrong with a situation or a thing, our human nature urges us to change it or "fix" it because we don't like it in its present state. We want to bring it into a state which we find to be less offensive. And when we truly "hate" something, we find it to be SO OFFENSIVE or vulgar that we are forced to rail or rebel against it in an effort to destroy it, squash it, remove it, kill it, or silence it.

Conservatives and patriots find it easy to "love" America because they find America, its institutions, its founding documents, its founding principles, its freedoms, its heritage, its culture, its religious expressions, its traditions, its military, its economic opportunity, its capitalism... to be beautiful, monumental, iconic, satisfying, worthy, attractive things.

And this is why conservatives assume that liberals must "hate" all the things on this list. It would appear that liberals not only seem to find almost everything about America offensive, they seem hell-bent on changing everything about it. They want to change its Constitution, its culture, its religious expression, its institutions, its military, its capitalism, its traditions, and its principles.

Liberals appear to be so incensed with those things that America is and stands for, that they are forced to rail and rebel against it. They scream in the streets. They scream in Congress. They scream in the press. They scream on the network news. They scream on the cable news.

They belittle America when they are at home or abroad. They equate America and its institutions with Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Pol Pot's Cambodia. They seek to destroy, squash, remove, kill or silence those things to which they object. The level of animosity we see from liberals can only lead us to believe that they "hate" America and everything about it.

If they "love" America, as they often claim, then why do they treat it and everything about it with such disrespect? If they treated a person in the same way, one would hardly call it "love". Is it an expression of "love" to continually bad-mouth someone, to speak poorly of them behind their back, or to continually try to change everything about them?

I think not.


At 2/05/2007 5:03 AM , Blogger MargeinMI said...

Well said, Hawkeye!

From the previous thread, Elroy says:

"It also important to recognize that up until recently the Republicans held power in all three arms of government, executive, legislative and, although it is meant to be impartial, judicial. leaving the Democratic Party as a powerless opposition excluded from discussion, debate and decision making. From this position their options are limited but, as they are the opposition, they do their job and oppose.

This, it might come as a surprise to you, is what they are supposed to do, to question and pick holes in the ruling party’s agenda and actions. "

Yes, to the extent to keep them honest, but that's not ALL they're supposed to do! Yet it seems they spend 90% of their time doing just that. I'd like to see a little (actually a lot) more actual coming up with some new ideas, an alternate plan, a little compromise, a little give and take, um, I think it's called something like consensual goverment. The two major parties of our government should not be enemies, constantly on the attack; they should be working together, for the best plan to make the country better.

It's funny, the one plan the Dems do espouse, is more diplomacy in forein relations. Heck, they can't be diplomatic across the aisle, I don't think they'd do a great job with Islamofascist nut jobs, um I mean freedom fighters.

At 2/05/2007 5:05 AM , Blogger MargeinMI said...

Uh, make that 'foreign relations' (it's 5 am).

At 2/05/2007 8:26 AM , Anonymous Mrs. Kajun said...

Words of Wisdom! So wise, yet simple enough for a child to understand!

At 2/05/2007 12:24 PM , Blogger Beerme said...

Not to mention that all the while those Republicans were "running" the entire government, they couldn't even get through votes on important issues and the confirmation of judges without endless filibustering and divisive posturing from the "weak and helpless" Democrats. There is ample diversity even among the individual parties to keep one viewpoint from dominating the agenda...Oh, but that's the beauty of America!

At 2/06/2007 8:17 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Thanks to all for your comments.

(:D) Regards...

At 2/06/2007 7:45 PM , Blogger onlineanalyst said...

You're a straight shooter, Hawkeye, and on-target with your summary.

At 2/06/2007 7:59 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Thanks! That means a lot coming from you.


At 2/11/2007 8:18 PM , Anonymous Elroy said...

Well, thanks very much for answering my question so thoughtfully. I understand now why you hate liberals so much. It is hard to love people that seek to destroy all that you hold dear; you think they are unattractive, blemished, ugly, stained, disreputable, unharmonious and foul and, because you can’t "fix" them, because you can’t bring them into a state which you find to be less offensive, because you truly ‘hate’ them, because you find liberals SO OFFENSIVE and vulgar, you are forced to rail or rebel against them in an effort to destroy them, them it, remove them, kill them, or silence them.

What is redeemable about people who disparage all that you think is attractive, beautiful, iconic, monumental, memorable, unblemished, harmonious, satisfying and worthy? If they look on that same thing and find it to be unattractive, blemished, ugly, stained, disreputable, unharmonious and foul...what use is there for people like this?

Unfortunately, your document provides no actual facts, or even opinions, as to WHY conservatives think that liberals feel this way. Ah well – I’ve kind of come to expect that. But here’s the news – liberals find America, with its institutions, its founding documents, its founding principles, its freedoms, its heritage, its culture, its religious expressions, its traditions, its military, its economic opportunity and yes, even its capitalism, to be beautiful, monumental, iconic, satisfying, worthy, attractive things too.

All we have to go on is that conservatives ‘assume’ that liberals hate all the things on his list, that ‘it would appear’ that liberals ‘seem to find almost everything about America offensive’. But as assumption is the mother of all balls-up and appearances can be very deceptive, let’s look at the list of things liberals are ‘hell-bent on changing’. Now, it’s hard to defend ones self if one doesn’t know the charges, although it’s somehow permissible in Git’mo, but let’s try, huh

1. Institutions. Liberals are not against the USA’s institutions per se. We are, however, keen on keeping them independent and free from being loaded with partisan sycophants. We recognize, for instance, the importance of making sure the Supreme Court reflects a balance of opinion and the same goes across the board. We think that bodies like OHSA and the EPA should be strengthened, that they should be allowed to do their work free from interference and that their recommendations should be given some legal clout.

2. The Founding Documents. I would say that liberals are pretty fond of the Declaration of Independence with its life, liberty and pursuit of happiness carry on. The Constitution OK too, and as for that Bill O’ Rights – whew! Even Commies love it! ‘We believe and advocate that a socialist society in our country will guarantee all the liberties defined in the Bill of Rights but never fully realized’ dictate the CPUSA! Yup, it’s all good. Why wouldn’t it be?

3. Freedoms. Now, why would I, or anyone, hate freedom?
‘Please, someone oppress me!’ Help, help, I’m being released!’ Get real, people. Liberals hate freedom? No, they love it. They love being free to do what they want to do and think what they want to think. In fact, so long as an act does not infringe the rights and freedoms of others without their consent, I’d say liberals would be for just about anything.

4. Heritage. It’s hard to be anti-heritage. Heritage is what it is. History. Heritage. How are we gonna change it? But again, liberals are quite comfortable with most of the USA’s heritage, whatever it is you exactly mean by that anyway, and seek to address what they don’t like. There are some aspects of America’s heritage, which are distasteful, like slavery, the attempted genocide of Native Americans, lynching, witch burning, etc. Some of these things are still within living memory, others have ramifications that America is still dealing with, but they can’t be ignored. Or can they? For the built environment, the physical heritage of America, there can be observed the peculiar inversion of our respective positions where the progressives become the conservatives and the conservatives come over all progressive. How many neighborhoods have been saved and restored by artists and artisans to become liberal enclaves?

5. Culture. What is culture? It is more than one thing. It is many, many, many things. They are everywhere. They grow in most unlikely places and are constantly changing and spread like mould, hence ‘culture’. So what ‘culture’ is it we liberals hate? NASCAR culture? Ten-pin bowling culture? Deer-killing culture? There is no homogenous American culture per se; countries that DO have more static and homogenous cultures tend to have names like ‘North Korea’ and ‘The Third Reich’, and I know that is not the kind of society you advocate. Or is it? Still, there’s no point getting too sentimental about cultures; they come and go. Some cultural habits are so horrible we hope the will eventually find themselves on the garbage tip of time, like female circumcision (and male circumcision, come to that), corporal punishment (and capital punishment) foot binding and the like. You may think that lopping off the hands of the sticky-fingered is a bit barbaric, but in some places it’s considered culturally appropriate. However, those that indulge in same might consider Hustler magazine an affront to all that is decent. I think that conservatives think that liberals ‘hate culture’ (as if we want to live in a cardboard box) because they think we hate THEIR culture, because they suppose, wrongly, that we wishing to promote ours over everyone else’s; however, all we are asking for is that our cultures, in fact all cultures, are treated equally.

6. Religious expressions. We’ve got no problem with these either. Many liberals are Christians of all stripes, lots are Buddhists, some pray to Allah, heaps read the Torah of nighttime and that’s just the Abrahamic monotheists! Pagans, Wiccas, Hindus, Seiks and, of course, Atheists, we really don’t care how you think you got here, why you think you got here and where you think you might be going once you leave, just don’t force the rest of us to observe YOUR convictions. I won’t make you pray toward Mecca eighty-nine times a day if you don’t make me say ‘under God’. All right? And DON’T wake me up at seven o’clock on a Sunday morning to tell me the good news! Apart form that, knock yourselves out

7.Traditions. Traditions are good. Most traditions are good. Some probably aren’t all that hot, like military hazing, but in a country made up an infinite amount of traditions from all across the world, everyone has their own traditions. The problems come when one group’s traditions are given more importance than the next while another’s are banned for no real good reason.

America is a melting pot. ‘Give me your huddled masses’ ring a bell? I guess the price for importing one’s workforce wholesale is the diluting of one’s cultural identity and thus one’s traditions. But again, like culture and religious expression, all we are asking is for alternative traditions to be recognized and validate. And please, tell me – what are these traditions (and cultures and religious expressions) are we supposed to hate?

8.Military. Hmmm. I can’t say I’m fond of the military myself. I don’t hate the men in it – I understand that they join for a variety of reasons –I just regret that it is necessary at all. If we organize the world differently maybe we could do without them– hey, Germany and Japan did pretty well without armies, huh? Makes you wonder who really did win WW2.

Sadly, however, industry doesn’t seem to think it can grow without war and politicians sure get itchy in peace time – all that power going to waste. Gee, they must have hated the ‘90s. It’s just such a bad allocation of resources (I thought the market loathed bad allocation of resources), but material and human. Stuff gets wasted and humans get damaged, both mentally and physically; you surely can’t come back from a war zone in the state you went to it. The war in Iraq is currently running at $100 billion p.a. and is projected to cost about $1.2 trillion. Don’t you ever think of what else could have been done with that money? Looking at the current state of Iraq, it really doesn’t seem like the US has got particularly good value for money. Still, Halliburton et al are happy, and that’s what really counts.

9. Economic opportunity. No, we like this too. People get ahead? Feed their families? Clothe them? Shelter them? Spend time with them? Sounds good to me. Sign me up immediately! Send me the newsletter!

10.Capitalism. Well here’s one the libs have GOT to hate! Haven’t they? Well? Huh? Um…’fraid not. Short of Anarchy, which, like lassair faire economics, looks good on paper, we understand that capitalism can be a force for good. After all, even Lenin was on board with a market economy, albeit a ‘mixed market’, not dissimilar to the New Deal Keynesian economics that brought such prosperity to the USA in the 30 years from the second world war to the appearance of OPEC.

The problem is that now we are slaves to the economy, as if the economy is somehow out of our control, as if the ‘invisible hand’ is propelled by the ghost of Adam Smith himself, as if the economy is supernatural entity beyond the realm of humankind. Well, it ain’t. We humans created it and we created it to serve us, not so we can serve it.

The world thrives on trade, it always has, and it also thrives
on rules, but it seems the only thing, the only concept, the
only activity that should apparently not be encumbered in any
way by rules is that of trade.

Why is that? Humans have great potential for good but also for bad, so society punishes the bad and rewards the good and we make those rules are enforced. We don’t trust citizens to do the right thing – we employ millions of other citizens to make sure they do, but for some reason we allow, or some say we should allow, capital to do as it likes.

However, if capital’s primary driving force is to make money no matter what, and as making money is far more easier when what rules there are get broken, then surely we need stricter rules and ways to make sure those rules are enforced, not less. Then thing is, the world is a finite resource. We have only one world. We all live on it. Why is it somehow immoral to share it? As John Maynard Keynes said, ‘In the long term, we are all dead.’

There you go. I’ve tried to explain that how you might be mistaken but, given that your reasoning is nonexistent, I’ve done what I can.

Now, what’s really funny about all this is that liberals think it is conservatives that are ‘hell-bent on changing everything’ about America, that it is conservatives who scream in the streets, and scream in Congress, and scream in the press, and scream on the network news, and scream on the cable news. Loudmouth conservatives are everywhere, according to liberals trashing the constitution, ignoring the USA’s heritage, discriminating and persecuting selected cultures, vilifying religions, overturning traditions, selling out the military, suffocating economic opportunity and perverting capitalism. So who is right?

Well, I am going to break the mold here and offer reasons why liberals feel this way. We call them facts.

1.Institutions. The loading of the Supreme Court with conservative ideologues is but one way the current WH regime shows its total lack of respect for the court’s functions and the founding father’s intentions for it. The hypocrisy of the right is apparent when, after constantly bleating about ‘activist’ judges who ‘legislate from the bench’ and deliver verdicts not to conservatives liking, the conservatives then try to load the SC with right-wing partisans who will spend the rest of their lives happily legislating away all the gains made by the more balanced SC of yore.

Also, a new directive has given the WH much more control over the rules and policy statements developed federal agencies in charge of public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy. These agencies now have to identify ‘the specific market failure’ that justifies the issuing of the directive, which give the WH lots more control over these institutions activities.

Needless to say, big business is delighted, and it is in ways like this that the institutions that are supposed to protect us are being undermined by the government to please its corporate buddies. ‘The executive order achieves a major increase in White House control over domestic government’ says Peter L. Strauss, a professor at Columbia Law School. ‘Having lost control of Congress, the president is doing what he can to increase his control of the executive branch, the president is doing what he can to increase his control of the executive branch.’ So much for Republican’s love of small government, huh?

2. Founding principles and documents. Well, these have really been through the shredder, along with god knows what else.
When George famously described the Constitution as ‘Just a goddam piece of paper’ he didn’t stipulate what kind of paper he thought it might be but it is obvious that he did not regard it with the reverence most think it deserves. Most, if not all, of the Bill of Rights amendments have been bypassed, ignored, or just plain destroyed by the WH.

3. Freedoms. Freedom to do what? Americans can’t marry who they want to, can’t have a baby when they want to, can’t take the medications they want to, can’t have sex with who they want to, if they take the wrong book out of the library the FBI will open a file on them and the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act and Homeland Security Act make Americans even less free in order to make them more free. Apparently. All courtesy of the Republican Party. Enjoy. People are locked up for years and years and years for petty misdemeanors creating, in effect, slave-labor camps and plantations. Illegal wiretaps. The suspension of Habeas Corpus. Detention without trial. Torture. Freedom? The North Koreans should be this free!

4. Heritage. Conservatives are keen to play up certain aspects of their heritage, the Paul Revere yarn, the Thanksgiving fairytale, a whole host of creation myths that they perpetuate in order to keep the flag flying. However, less salubrious episodes in America’s evolution are given shorter shrift. Virginian Republican Frank D. Hargrove said the other day that African-Americans should ‘get over’ slavery. Nice. Heritage cuts both ways, and liberals understand that. Conservatives on the other hand…

As for the built environment, been to NOLA lately? Such is the GOP’s respect for America’s heritage. Eminent Domain? A developer’s dream Downtown Detroit? As busted as New Orleans. And so it goes. But how many old homes and industrial structures have been conserved by progressives who recognize the intrinsic beauty and integrity of these historic structures, regardless of the fiscal loss? Lots. And how many buildings have been flattened by conservatives in the name of ‘progress’ but in the search for profit? More.

The non-built environment sure took a hit from the hilariously named Clear Skies and Healthy Forests acts, legislation which dos exactly the opposite to what their titles suggest. Companies are now far more free to pollute the water, cloud the air and demolish the trees in way not possible before 2000, but what is important is that the skies, the forests, the rivers, the downtowns, they belong to everybody. No one can ever really own them, they can just be the custodians and as such have a personal responsibility (yup, there’s that word again – so easy to say, so hard for some to implement, George) to honor them and keep them nice. Certainly, some things have to change, this is inevitable, but changes must be made as sensitively as possible. Just because a developer can make a profit does not necessarily mean they should, or be allowed to. Profit is not king. The planet is.

5.Culture. Bill O’Reilly would have you believe that there is ‘culture war’ in action, and he’d be correct – the Right have declared and opened up open warfare on another imagined enemy, this time the terrifying ‘Secular Progressives’. Apparently
the ‘S-Ps’ which to ‘destroy’ American culture by advocating abortion and gay marriage, and I know you guys are really wound up about these issues which, quite frankly, are none of your business, but of course you are once again at odds with reality. I believe the argument against gay marriage is that it ‘devalues and debases the institution of holy matrimony’ or some such, but we libs believe quite the opposite; it seems to us that allowing people that love each to make a lifelong commitment will actually reinforce and strengthen that institution.

However, it seems that the GOP and its acolytes think that having sex-starved teenagers who have been brainwashed into thinking that pre-marital sex is a ‘sin’, and who have with no real clue as to how coitius actually works due to the absence of any effective sex education, use marriage as a way to legitimize the exercising of their overheated libidos and produce offspring that no-one wants or can afford to keep. How is this protecting the sanctity of marriage? The highest divorce rates in the country are in the Red states the highest in the country, and the lowest are in the blue; NH, where gay marriage is legal, has the lowest of all. Christians, however, get divorced more than anyone.

As for abortion, no one likes it but the alternatives are worse. Better to have a procedure in sterile doctor’s office than in your bathroom with a coat hanger, huh? And would you rather have no baby or no baby and no mother either? Furthermore, the question must be asked: what is the ultimate goal of the anti-abortion lobby? Is it to reduce the amount of abortions performed in the USA each year? Is it? Because if it is, then maybe America should look at countries where the abortion rate is lowest, like, say, the Netherlands, which has the lowest rate of the entire world. And how do they do it? Through education, free and abundant contraception, and comprehensive family planning clinics.

Other bonuses are less kiddies born into to poor, young and ill-equipped parents mean less crime down the track (there is a direct correlation between the drop in the crime statistics during the ‘90s and your fav’rite Supreme Court decision – Roe Vs Wade) and therefore less spending on jails and welfare, and freeing up young mothers who would otherwise be trapped in cycle of poverty to climb your ladder of economic opportunity.

So do conservatives really want to slow the abortion rate, reduce prisoner numbers and increase prosperity? Do the ends justify the means? Or have conservatives got another agenda? Do they, in actual fact, not give a jot for the lives of the babies they insist are born and the mothers that bear them? And while we’re at it, why do conservatives wash their hands of the mothers they have forced into motherhood?

Abstinence and prohibition is never going to work. People are always going to have sex, and the same goes for drug use. No matter what anyone might like to say about it to whom ever else, people are never going to stop taking drugs, and why should they? They like it! Nearly everybody likes it! Whiskey, coffee, Sudafed, Valium, drugs one and all, but the rules about why certain drugs are illegal are completely arbitrary.

How come Americans can’t take heroin when they feel like it but can cram themselves with beer and Prozac with all the blessings of the state? America learnt that prohibition doesn’t work eighty years ago, yet the ‘war on drugs’ continues unabated. If conservatives were serious about stamping out drug dealers they would do the only common sense thing that there is to put them out of business – legalize and regulate.

Drug dealers are not altruists; they do it for the money. In a completely unregulated trade with a limitless market and an expensive product whose raw materials are dirt cheap, they are cleaning up, so the logical thing to do would be to regulate that trade, but in order to regulate it you would have to legalize it.

This also means you could then control the quality and therefore the quantity that people consume, rather like what was done with beer in 1932, when Prohibition was repealed. What happened then? The speakeasies disappeared, as did the bootleggers.

So how about it? Or is your no gay marriage/no abortion/no drugs agenda more about your so-called ‘moral’ dimension rather than getting things done in a practical and pragmatic matter?

6. Religious expressions. Are conservatives going to grant Atheists, Muslims, Wiccas, Pagans, Witches, Satanists, Scientologists and all the hundreds of other religions equality with Christianity? Gonna stop making laws giving Christianity the inside running? Do away with ‘faith-based initiatives’? And waking me up? No, I didn’t think so.

7.Traditions. There are many fine traditions being ignored by the WH today, from avoiding military burials to bypassing that quaint little anomaly, the rule of law. So much malfeasance, so little time to write about. I must get on.

8. Military. ‘As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time’ said Rumsfeld. Now that doesn’t sound very supportive to me. They’re not the army he wants? Whose army DOES he want? Oh well, the US Army will have to do. Still, as Rummy doesn’t really want them anyway there’s no need to arm and protect them properly, is there?
They won’t last long without body and vehicle armor, and then maybe he can get the army he really wants. And for the ones that survive? Well, they won’t need much and gee, there’s so many of ‘em, better cut their benefits before they cost money. Way to support the troops!

Still, if Rummy had shown any intelligence at all, he may have read ‘The Art Of War’ by Sun Tzu who wrote in the 6th Century BC: ’One hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful. Seizing the enemy without fighting is the most skillful.’ But hey! Maybe seizing the enemy was never the real goal! Maybe it was…oh, you know the rest. Way to support the troops – send them into battle for the economic gain private corporations and foreign nation states!

9. Economic opportunity. Allow me, please, to quote Will Hutton:

‘America is the most unequal society in the industrialized West. The richest 20 per cent of Americans earn nine times more than the poorest 20 per cent, a scale of inequality half as great again as in Japan, Germany and France. At the very top of American society, incomes and wealth have reached stupendous proportions. The country boasts some three million millionaires, and the richest 1 per cent of the population hold 38 per cent of its wealth, a concentration more marked than in any comparable country.’

‘…in the US 46 per cent of school-leavers gain no certificate or degree - and an extraordinary 31 per cent have never received formal training or education after leaving school.’

‘Americans who do not get to college are pushed into the labor market with a poverty of skills, educational and vocational training. Those who do get to college are overwhelmingly students from the higher socio-economic backgrounds, just as they always have been; a study in 1965 found that two-thirds of the explanation for educational achievement was accounted for by family income; a study 30 years later found exactly the same figure.’

‘As inequality grows, the grip of the wealthy on educational advantage becomes ever more evident, for the cost of going to university over the last 25 years has exploded. The average cost of tuition fees and room and board has risen fourfold since 1977 to an average of $10,315 today; the overall average masks a stark contrast between the average cost of study at private universities at $17,613 and public universities at $7,013.

‘In 1965, the Pell grant, the largest federal program for poor students, covered 85 per cent of the cost of four years at a public university; in 2000, it covered just 39 per cent of the bill. Meanwhile, the Hope Scholarship, introduced by President Clinton, provides up to $3,000 of tax credits to fund university education but it goes mainly to families earning between $30,000 and $90,000) whose children would have gone to college anyway. States have cut their support on average by 32 per cent since 1979.’

‘The result of this vicious scissor movement - rising costs cutting against falling state and federal support - is a calamitous drop in the chances of a poor student acquiring a university degree, and this in an environment where there are negligible alternative forms of vocational and formal education.’

‘Borrowing money on the scale now needed to finance college is easier for students from better-off families with expectations of reasonable earnings than for students from low-income families. As Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, admits, the US 'is not doing a good job helping low-income students succeed'. In 1979, a student aged 18 to 24 from the top income quartile was four times more likely to obtain a degree by 24 than a student from the bottom quartile. By 1994, the latest year for which we have figures, this was 10 times more likely. Given the trends in inequality, college costs and falling state support, this already disastrous ratio can only have got worse over the last eight years. American social mobility is set to decline below its already modest levels.’

‘The Bush family is of the more famous political examples of how wealth begets both more wealth and influence. Five generations of the Bushes, for example, have been 'tapped' to become members of the Skull and Bones Club at Yale, whose initiates retain a commitment to the lifelong scratching of each other's backs while never acknowledging they were members. In itself, there is nothing remarkable about private clubs of privileged insiders in private universities; it is just that the country that boasts them should be more self-knowing about its pretensions to meritocracy.’

‘Journalist Barbara Ehrenreich conducted her own social experiment, spending 1998 working in a series of low-wage jobs as a waitress, hotel maid, cleaning woman, nursing home aide and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. The result of her year, documented in Nickel and Dimed, is an extraordinary Orwellian testimony to how tough American working life is for the bottom 20 per cent. She had absolutely no financial margin beyond paying the rent and what she needed to survive; saving or finding the time for any training to upgrade her status was beyond her. 'Most civilized nations compensate for the inadequacy of wages by providing relatively generous public services such as health insurance, free or subsidized child care, subsidized housing and effective public transport,' she writes. 'But the United States, for all its wealth, leaves its citizens to fend for themselves - facing market-based rents on their wages alone. For millions of Americans, that $10 - or even $8 or $6 an hour - is all there is.'

‘The combination of reduced educational opportunity for low-income students and more advantages conferred on the rich - the great achievements of conservatism - can only have one result. America is developing an aristocracy of the rich and serfdom of the poor and, in so doing, threatening its own economic vitality.’

Thanks, Will. I feel better now.

10. Capitalism. For capitalists, corporations are actually rather keen socialists, as addicted to the tax-payers’ teat as any trailer-park welfare queen you might care to disparage; Cheney and Halliburton make their money from the tax-payer, oil companies get huge subsidies and when things go wrong the government are always there on hand to bail them out.

Capital has no morality and must be legislated against lest it does what comes naturally to it. Competition is a myth. No company is interested in competition. Charles ‘Revlon’ Revson said ‘I don’t meet competition – I crush it!’ What happens when you play Monopoly? One guy winds up with everything, and that is what is going on now.

The logic of capitalism demands that the Acme Toy Co. must eliminate the competition, the Ajax Toy Co. in order to protect and maximize profits for their shareholders, which it is legally bound to do, and if elimination is not possible then Acme will do the next best thing, collude with Ajax and fix the price for wind-up mice across the civilized world.

Bigger corps are buying smaller corps like fish eating fish, until there is only be one fish left. Right now, duopolies like Gillette vs. Schick and Airbus vs. Boeing, triopolies such as Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft the seven major corps that make up the media oligopoly of Time Warner, Disney, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation (FOX), Bertelsmann of Germany, Clear Channel, Viacom (formerly CBS) and General Electrics (NBC) are supposedly thrashing it out, but are they? Probably not, unless they are trying to buy each other out.

Ever heard the joke about the scorpion and the frog? A Scorpion wants to get across the river, so asks frog for a ride. Frog says ‘But you’ll sting me’. Scorpion says ‘If I do that we’ll both drown’ Frog says ‘fair enough, Jump on’. Half way across the scorpion stings the frog, and as they sink the frog says ‘Why did you do that?” The scorpion says ‘it’s what I do – I’ a scorpion’.

And so the Fortune 500 ride roughshod over people across the world, and their corruption rivals that of any 3rd world dictatorship they may prop up as they sting as many frogs as they can get away with even if, as Enron demonstrated only too well, they sow the seeds of their own destruction.

What conservatives fail to understand is that where there is a place for a diverse market there is also a place for monopolies, which cannot, by their very nature, be efficiently competed with and so should be managed by the state for the good of the community as a whole.

Electricity would be one of these. Electricity is electric. Does it matter where it come from? Is there better quality electricity? No. What’s more, it’s a necessity; survival in the modern world is impossible without it, another reason to leave it to the disinterested mercies of the people.

But Instead of looking after the interests of the electorate, the current crop of Republicans running the show are really only interested in protecting their buddies by funneling them government contracts and even inviting them to write policy without admitting, publicly at any rate, that Corporations left to their own devices will go utterly feral.

That Corporations will do this is a given, they have to, it is the nature of the beast, but conservatives don’t mind. In fact, they applaud it until the corp. in question gets caught, then the CEOs in charge are deemed, at the risk of mix my metaphors, ‘bad apples’ to be thrown to the lions. But the aforementioned Enron’s cynical manipulation of California’s ill-advised deregulation was not an aberration but a cautionary tale. Some things are too important to be entrusted to the market.

Liberals don’t ‘belittle America when they are at home or abroad’. They might criticize it, but surely that is their right? Why can’t they say things like:

‘I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning...I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area.’

‘Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years.’

‘I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions…these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today’

‘Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?’

‘No goal, no objective, not until we have those things and a compelling case is made, then I say, back out of it, because innocent people are going to die for nothing. That's why I'm against it.’

‘My job as majority leader is be supportive of our troops, try to have input as decisions are made and to look at those decisions after they're made ... not to march in lock step with everything the president decides to do.’

‘American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy.’

‘If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy.’

‘Escalating this war doesn’t make any sense because starting this war did not make any sense.’

‘You can support the troops but not the president.’

‘Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.’

According to the hawks, the right to say such things is what the troops are fighting for. So, why are they traitors for saying such things in a time of war?

It’s true that some compare not America’s institutions but certainly the current administration with the Third Reich, and they do that to make the wider point that the WH has developed tendencies that have more than a passing resemblance to fascism. It is important to note that fascism does not necessarily mean wearing jackboots and systematic mass murder; these are not its defining criteria. Mussolini, the creator of fascism, had no ‘final solution’ and nor did Franco of Spain, yet their regimes were identifiably fascist, that is power concentrated in the hands of a small wealthy elite, the army and corporations.

In his contentious essay ’31 Similarities between Bush and Hitler’, Edward Jayne basically said the following.

1. Neither was elected by a majority but gained office in subsequent political maneuverings

2. Both curtailed civil liberties in response to well-publicized disasters of dubious provenance.

3. Both pursued a reckless foreign policy without the mandate of the electorate and despite the opposition of most foreign nations.

4. Both increased their popularity with conservative voters by mounting an aggressive public relations campaign against foreign enemies (Communism; Al-Qaeda).

5. Both promoted militarism in the midst of economic recession and heavily subsidized the military/industrial complex.

6. Both displayed great populist enthusiasm in their patriotic speeches but primarily served wealthy investors (Bush’s ‘base’).

7. Both envisaged their nation’s unique historic destiny as a religious cause sanctioned by God.

8. Both promoted a future world order that guaranteed their own nation’s hegemonic supremacy rather than cooperative harmony under the authority of the United Nations (or League of Nations).

9. Both quickly made and broke diplomatic ties and offered generous promises that they soon abandoned.

10. Both scrapped international treaties.

11. Both repeated lies often enough that they come to be accepted as the truth.

12. Both incessantly shifted their arguments to justify invasion.

13. Both emphasized the ruthlessness of their enemies in order to justify their own.

14. Both took pride in his status as a “War President” and their global ambition made them perhaps the most dangerous presidents in their nation’s history.

15. Both continued to pursue war without cutting back on the peacetime economy (unless, in the case of the US, you are poor).

16. Both possessed a war machine much bigger and more effective than the military capabilities of other nations.

17. Both depended on an axis of collaborative allies in order to give the impression of a broad popular alliance.

18. Both were willing to go to war over the objections of the U.N. (League of Nations).

19. Both launched unilateral invasions on a supposedly preemptive basis.

20. Both depend on a military strategy that features a “shock and awe”, blitzkrieg beginnings with devastating air strikes followed by an invasion led by heavy armored columns.

21. Both were willing to inflict high levels of bloodshed against ‘enemy’ nations.

22. Both are perfectly willing to sacrifice life as part of their official duty.

23. Both began warfare on a single front but then expanded it to a second front with Iraq, only to be confronted with potential third and fourth fronts.

24. Both had no qualms about imposing ‘regime change’ by installing Quisling-style client governments backed by a military occupation with both political and economic control entirely in the hands of the dominant power

25. Both curtailed civil liberties in captive nations and depended on concentration camps.

26. Both used the threat of enemies abroad to stir the fearful allegiance of their respective publics.

27. Both depended on a propaganda machine to guarantee sympathetic news management.

28. Both increasingly reduced the circle of aides he feels he can trust as his policies keep boomeranging at his own expense.

29. Both became obsessed with their vision of conflict between good and evil.

30. Both took pleasure in the mythology of frontier justice.

31. Both misconstrued Darwinism, Hitler by treating the Aryan race as being superior on an evolutionary basis and Bush by rejecting science for fundamentalist creationism.

And both put themselves above the law, the defining characteristic of a dictator and against everything that the founding fathers believed in. You might think this outrageous, but that’s free speech for you! And if you disagree, tell me why!

I don’t know who compared the US to Pol Pot (whose regime was backed by the US) but when it comes to Stalinist Communism there is a place in the USA where it works very well. It has a command economy, a rigid hierarchy and well-paid ruling elite which offers a limited form that social mobility and, in return for complete loyalty, it offers cradle-to-grave care with education, child care, job training, health care, housing and what-all else. Membership is nominally voluntary but at times people are forced to join against their will where their individuality is crushed like a beetle in order to brainwash them into total allegiance to the state. You may have heard of it. It’s called the US military.

So no, liberals don’t hate the USA. As I have said before, sometimes ‘love’ means saying no. Furthermore, liberals don’t want to change everything; they just want to change some things back, to fix the almighty mistakes made by the worst President and administration in history. This will take time, but that’ OK; after ’08, we don’t expect to see the Republicans anywhere near the levers of power for at least fifteen to twenty years, if at all.

Margein said...

/Yes, to the extent to keep them honest, but that's not ALL they're supposed to do!’

Um, it pretty well is, actually. Oppositions come up with new ideas and alternate
Plans and then seek election to implement those plans. They are not there to act as some sort of think tank for the incumbents. The Republicans are not born to rule, and the Democratic Party are not going to do your legwork; if you want some new ideas, go think of your own.

And anyway, the Democratic Party has always had plenty of ‘new ideas and alternate plans’. It’s just that the Republicans have been to bloated with power and self-importance to notice them. Funny that…

‘…a little compromise, a little give and take, um, I think it's called something like consensual government.’

Excuse me while I don’t stop laughing. A Republican talking about ‘give and take’ and ‘consensual government’? Have you people no shame? Have you, Margein, ANY idea what has been going on in Washington these last six years?

Maybe the two major parties of our government should NOT be enemies, constantly on the attack; and maybe they SHOULD be working together, for the best plan to make the country better or maybe not. Maybe it will depend on those ‘new ideas and alternate plans’ you guys come up with.

But either way, if the Democratic Party ever the Republicans anywhere near any decision making it will be because they DO recognize that bi-partisanship has its uses and NOT, repeat, NOT because Republicans have any right to it, or because they think they deserve it.

‘Heck, they can't be diplomatic across the aisle…’

Hmm. Pop Quiz! Which vice-president told a representative on the floor of the Senate to, and I quote, um, ‘Go **** yourself!’?

Beerme said...

‘…without endless filibustering…’

Would that be the endless filibustering that the Republicans, with all the respect for tradition they possess, tried to abolish? The very same filibustering that the now minority Republicans are engaged right now? The filibuster that Senators Gordon Smith and Pat Roberts are threatening to use if certain pet pork barrels are not delivered? Is it THAT filibuster? Yes, I thought it might be.

Look, we want a world without want, don’t we? Without hunger and poverty? Why must the conditions of one’s existence be predicated on the adherence to a constructed moral code to which one religious sect claims the exclusive rights? This is not freedom.

Thanks for reading. I know this has been something of an epic, but never let it be said that I avoid questions. Have I left anything out?

I think not.



At 2/11/2007 8:33 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

I think it is time for you to be honest with me. Just as I have been honest with you. As you know, I am an American, and you are...???

At 2/11/2007 8:41 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Mrs. Kajun said it best... "simple enough for a child to understand!"

Clearly you did not understand it, therefore, you must be less than a child.

At 2/11/2007 8:44 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Loudmouth conservatives are everywhere...

But the only "loudmouth" I hear at the moment is you.

At 2/11/2007 8:48 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Have I left anything out?

Yes, I think you forgot to share your favorite recipe for Guacamole.

At 2/12/2007 7:51 PM , Anonymous elroy said...

Hawkeye thinks I am not being very honest. If it’s honesty he wants, how about some intellectual honesty from him? How about discussing the issues I brought up? Why is he so hung up on passports? Why does he duck what is really important?

It’s not ‘...simple enough for a child to understand!’ so much as simple enough for a conservative to understand but, as is usual for conservatives, both of Hawkeye’s arguments are near text-book cases of reductio ad absurdum. One cannot logically draw the conclusion that because liberals disagree with certain elements of WH policy they ‘hate’ America; that is clearly fallacious.

Also this interesting piece of thinking: ‘It is simple enough for a child to understand. Clearly you did not understand it, therefore, you must be less than a child’ Wow! If this is indicative of greater conservative thought its no wonder the world is in such a mess! For a start, I clearly DO understand it; I just disagree with it, for it is an absurd argument. Among other things, assumption is not fact. Clear enough for everyone?

‘Less than a child’? What is ‘less than a child’? This is yet another example of the Right’s automatic assumption (there’s that word again) that they are correct. I saw Sean Hannity doing it on Sunday. He didn’t say ‘I don’t agree with you’, he said ‘You are wrong, and here’s why!’ Of course, he then trotted out what was, in my humble opinion, was a load of rubbish, but the point is he didn’t even listen or consider the opposite point of view – he just declared to it be ‘wrong-headed’, as if the speaker was ‘less than a child’. Such condescension is why people are turning to the Democratic party in drroves.

Indeed, it is this kind of arrogance that lost the Republicans the midterms and will lose them the 2008 election. If society’s function is to ensure the safety and security of the population at large, then it is obvious, to me at any rate, that the conservative agenda has failed miserably. In equality is wider and rising faster than ever before, and this is a situation which cannot and will not persist.

I believe that the arguments that I have presented, here and elsewhere, are simple enough. There are always shades upon shades of grey, and no absolutes, so let’s debate. Please note that I am not patronizing you at all, calling you ‘less than a child’ or impugning your intellect at all; I wish I could say the same for the conservative ranks.

However, I shall persist because I believe that the only way that the consensual and bipartisan government that conservatives are suddenly clamoring for can occur is for the two sides to debate. How about it?

On other issues, I can hear plenty of loudmouth conservatives, like Hawkeye and Beerme
for instance. Obviously Hawkeye doesn’t listen to talk radio or watch Republican Cable News, but I can assure them that voices that reflect his opinion are readily available.

Maybe what’s really bugging him is that the voice of the real silent minority is now being heard, after years of subjugation, and that Hawkeye does not like what he hears. What’s up, Hawkeye? That democracy thang gittin’ in the way agin’? But I’m glad you can hear me, Hawkeye; now all you have to do to is listen. And respond.

So come on guys, let’s go! I’ve given y’all plenty of ammunition! Fire a few shots, why don’t ya?

To conclude, I admit that I was in error, guilty of the sin of omission, and for that I am truly sorry; allow me now to rectify the situation.

Fresh limejuice.
2 Avocados.
Fresh chilies
Fresh coriander

Add finely sliced chili to mashed avocado. Mix salt and lime juice PRIOR (very important) to adding to the Avocado and chilies. Garnish with plenty of freshly chopped avocado.

I trust this clears up any outstanding matters.



At 2/12/2007 10:02 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

"Why is (Hawkeye) so hung up on passports?"

Not hung up really... just interested. Why are you so afraid to share? Is it because once you admit that you are not an American, that you will lose some credibility in your criticism of Americans and American institutions? Is it because you are afraid that I will start criticizing your native land? Well... you may be right.

Too bad! No one has more right to criticize America than an American. And no one has LESS right to criticize America than a foreigner. And if you are too arrogant or embarassed to tell me where you live, then your failure to be open with me eliminates any obligation on my part to respond to your erudite bloviating.

At 2/13/2007 7:52 PM , Anonymous elroy said...

Conservatives marked lack of curiousity is of endless fascination. If an individual on the political right had personally delivered to me such a comprehensive challenge to my beliefs as I have to you, I would at least want to know if there was any truth to their assertions. And if I found some holes in the arguments then I would point these out, but the only thing that seems to bother you is my geographic location.

I am not too arrogant or too embarrassed or, indeed, afraid to discuss my nationality with you; the only reason that I appear slightly reticent to go into the matter is that I was, and am, concerned that you might decide that I am somehow not qualified to comment on USA foreign and domestic policies, and it sees that fear is justified.

However, I would argue (what a surprise!) that I am. What American citizens, particularly those on the right, fail to understand is that the USA’s behaviour affects the entire world. Even legislation that appears to be of a purely local nature can have international repercussions as the USA demands a certain level of conformity from their allies, particularly those with whom the US has a so-called ‘free-trade’ agreement, and a consequence of this is that the citizens of the world feel, not unreasonably, that they have a right to comment.

Furthermore, the USA sold its right to privacy years ago. America is the world’s backyard, a giant theme park for the rest of us to play cowboys and indians in. A century of movies and fifty years of televison have seared images of America into the minds of billions, and for a lot of these people have no actual choice about it as America has used its market advantage in these industries to dump product around the world and make it unfeasable for many countries to produce local material.

America’s politics are of global concern. The US has been manipulating the politics of the world for over 100 years, deposing presidents and propping up dictators everywhere US business concerns were threatened, and it has not been spared an iota of America’s domestic goings-on either; I know where I was when Robert Kennedy was shot – where were you when the same thing happened to Anwar Sadat?

FOX news has permeated every corner of the planet, as has CNN and all the rest, and so the world is informed, and being so informed they are eager to debate the issues they cannot avoid even if they wanted to. The internets has broken down whatever barriers to international debate that were left and although this reach has helped America’s balance of trade and extended its cultural hegemony, a consequence of that reach has been the right of the world’s citizenry to comment on America’s doings. Such is he price of colonialism in the twenty-first century. America wanted globalization – America got it. As the old adage goes, be careful what you wish for.

I think you are more than just ‘interested’; I think you wish to use the information against me, to claim that I do not have the ‘credibility’ of which you speak. So, what am I to do? I could lie to you – this is the internet, I could say anything – but I am going to trust that you will respect the fact that I have told you the truth and not dissmiss my views on the grounds of my nationality. Don’t prove me wrong now.

Anyway, why can’t I comment? I am obviously interested in US politics and I know a lot more about the subject than a whole heap of American citizens. In fact, I live in the fifty-first state of the US – Australia!

Yep, there you go! Australia! Feel free to critisize away! But if you want to have a go at my native land you had better look to both of ours erstwhile colonial masters – the Brits! Go on! Knock yourself out!

Like he USA, Australia is a land of immigrants and I am but one of these. Yes, I know the harsh sting of being a minority, of rascism, of bigotry – I mean, you try being me when the English cricket team come a-touring!

More to the point, both the country of my birth and the one where I reside are ardent and staunch allies in the Iraq war. In fact, you may have noticed our Beloved Leader, Prime Minister John Howard, railing against Barak Obama on the TV and defending his right to do so, a right that was also backed up by Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter. ‘I think the Aussies have earned a right to comment on the world stage about their partner in this endeavor’ he opined ‘because they've been fighting side-by-side with us in Iraq.' Well, if it’s good enough for Howard and Hunter, its good enough for me!

So, there you go. I’ve shared. Have I been erudite? I hope so. Have I bloviated? I hope not. Will you hold it against me? That’s up to you, Hawkeye; don’t disappoint me now.



P.S. Do not garnish the guacamole with avocado. That would be redundant. Use the coriander.


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