Thursday, February 16, 2006

Things that irritate me

Besides having a Congressman from my own party who's an unindicted coconspirator? District drawing. Texas got the big news when they re-redrew the districts to Tom Delay's liking. As a result, there are six congressmen in and around Travis County. It dilutes it a bit, giving a 3-3 split in that area, with one of the Dems being the odious Henry Cuellar, who ousted Ciro Rodriguez by not very much.

Texas isn't the only place that got the GOP treatment. Austin's a big town and growing fast.

Reading, PA, on the other hand, is not. It's an old industrial center with some steel industry and some agriculture (mushrooms are big there). About 80,000 live in the city proper.

Now then Central PA tends to lean a bit to the right. Reading bucks that trend. Reading was represented for years by the late Gus Yatron (D), a rather colorful onetime prizefighter from Reading. So, as a reward (or punishment) for being GOP-incorrect, they get split up into three districts. If you look at the National Atlas district lines as close up as possible, you can tell that the GOP-controlled assembly really did its work making sure that Reading wasn't represented. (Caution: pdf)

OK done venting.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney too secretive for GOP

Now that's saying something.

Prominent GOPers are getting really worried that the lack of any public response from Dick Cheney is going to become a political liability for them. Quotes from the VandeHei article in the WaPo...

I cannot believe he does not look back and say this should have been handled differently. - Vin Weber, former R-MN congressman

[Cheney] ignored his responsibility to the American people. - Marlin Fitzwater, former WH flack under Reagan

VandeHei did manage to soft-peddle Whittington's heart attack...
Whittington suffered an irregular heartbeat yesterday after a shotgun pellet in his chest traveled to his heart, according to hospital officials in Corpus Christi.

I seem to remember that the media reported Elvis dying of an "irregular heartbeat" back when it was reported. (Yeah, I know, I was only 8 years old at the time, but that's what I remember John Chancellor telling everyone.) Point being that the media's attempts to make Whittington's condition less serious than it really is are just not credible.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What he "would" do

I went poking around Alterman's blog for a bit, where he was writing about Vice-president Cheney the foul-mouthed Dick shooting up his lawyer pal Harry Whittington at the canned quail hunt in South Texas. In particular, Alterman was commenting about how Paul Begala was shooting holes (pardon the expression) in the veep's cover story. Then he said something that particularly caught my eye...
Anyway, if you read the comments to Paul’s post, you see that Cheney appears to have shot the guy almost point blank. When you consider that he never bothered notifying anyone, you have to wonder whether this mishap was, as are so many hunting incidents, alcohol-related. It would be the only sensible decision for delay, since it’s hard to believe that anyone could be so arrogant as to think that they could get away with a SSWVP (shooting-someone-while-vice-president).

If there's anything I've learned about humans, it's never to determine what actually happened on the basis of what someone "would" do. Not even if that particular someone is close to you. So would Cheney be that arrogant as to try to get away with SSWVP? I don't know - if the evidence indicates that he is that damn arrogant, then he is.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Quick one question quiz

The date is August 31, 2005. We already know what the top story in the U.S. was that day. How about the top story in Europe that day? A bit of a hint: it was a tragic event with an appalling loss of life - about 1000 dead.

Sounds like Katrina, eh? Well, you'd be wrong. Just so happens that I was in Barcelona August 31 and September 1 (recommendation: GO!), and the biggest headline according to CNN International and the Spanish and Catalan papers was in Iraq, where 965 people died in a stampede on the al-A'imma bridge in Baghdad. Don't get me wrong, Katrina was pretty damn big - I saw the remnants of it flying over Newfoundland on the flight home on September 1 - and it was below the fold on Page 1, but the stampede was above the fold.

No idea what the big story over there was as everything was unfolding and the stampede became more distant. I was back here, where it was all Katrina all the time, which is much more important than CNN's new policy of all dead or missing blonde suburban chicks all the time.

Well, the point is proved

Point being that those straying from the GOP party line get labeled as "liberal" as soon as they do it. In his followup post, Glenn Greenwald has scads of examples of it being done to him.

I also got an honest answer from commenter prunes (note: calls self conservative, criticizes Bush) regarding my question on how the principle of limited government got to be labeled a conservative principle. The answer, found in a article by Murray Rothbard (caution: pdf), had two parts.

a) It really was a reaction to FDR's New Deal
2) The right was (and is) a lot more fragmented than the media lets us see

It isn't a complete answer, but the complete answer is probably too long for a comment forum.

edit: p.s. Link whoring works.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Are Conservatives Really Betraying Their Principles?

Glenn Greenwald has a post up about how the idol worship of George W. Bush is a betrayal of what we know as conservative principles. It's a long one, and it's a really good one, so I suggest going there.

But, I do have some arguments with it. In particular, I think he gets his conclusion all backwards that Bushites can't be called conservatives because of their abandonment of small-government principles. The truth is that the small-government principles that conservatism took as its own was actually cheap rhetoric and a reaction to the liberalism that begun with Franklin Roosevelt and continued with LBJ. When FDR was elected, liberals in government, whether they were in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches, held at least some power until the election of 2002. Now that the conservatives have all the power, there is no longer anything to react against. So, true conservatism comes through, which has nothing to do with small government, an idea that was quite incongruous when mixed with conservatism. The real conclusion is that what we see now - increased spending, tax cuts for the wealthy, repression of brown people and 'teh ghey' - is conservatism.

Since what has been spread over the past 40+ years as "conservative principles" is a reaction to liberalism, it's useful to ask what liberalism is and does. In a nutshell, liberalism trusts the power of federal government, and of the people to run the government. Why? To do as much as possible for the betterment of as many people as possible, hopefully to bring about a measure of equality for all.

Conservatism, on the other hand, sees people as inherently of poor character, and that society is made better if the people are kept in line by the "right people". So, conservatism is the idea that only the "right people" should have the power, and that only the "right people" should be the beneficiaries of that power, because the "right people" are inherently better. (The term most used for the "right people" since who knows when is "aristocracy".) This is in reality the only guiding principle of conservatism.

Because liberalism led to those other than the "right people" being the beneficiaries and because liberalism had the power most of the 20th century, conservatives reacted by defining themselves as the opposite of liberalism, which at the time meant that they should distrust federal government.

So once the conservatives got complete power, it should surprise no one that conservatives became so enamored of federal government power. After all, according to conservatives, the "right people" are now in charge, namely the Bush cadre of GOP apparatchiks.

Bob Barr is really not a liberal since he honestly holds the principle that federal government should be distrusted. He is also not a conservative because his principles say that people at least are of good enough character to govern themselves, so the "right people" aren't necessary to govern. I suppose we'd have to call Barr a libertarian, for lack of a better term, because his principles are that no one, the people or the aristocracy, can really be trusted to pull the strings of power.

In summary, Bushism is conservatism. Any other definition of conservatism that was used by the GOP to get their power was a cynical load of crap.

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