May 23, 2005

Dear GOP: A Call to Arms by an Old Friend

This guest post is by first-time blogger DKS, a very dear friend.

Where have you gone, Old Conservatives? Are you sleeping through this dark time? This new GOP is not worthy of you, and it is certainly an unfit adversary for intelligent, liberal-minded people. It is reactionary, meddling, fiscally profligate and blatantly theocratic. And frankly, it bears no resemblance whatever to the party it used to be. I look back with nostalgia at those fiscally conservative, well-educated, Libertarian-ish and Federalist folks who used to make up the heart of the GOP. The Conservatives I knew were patrician and polite, and above all, firm in the belief that small, intelligent government was the way to avoid all possible ills.

Politics used to be more fun, and more civil. Like a good chess match, where you both realized that you had made some smart moves and went away from a game more enlightened and more engaged. Now, imagine if your worthy, long-time chess opponent suddenly began chucking the pawns at your head, randomly calling you a Satanist, and declaring that unless you agreed to his rule changes, he’d tell everyone that you cheat, and no one would ever play with you again.

That’s exactly how I feel: Like I’ve been betrayed by someone I thought I knew. And I do know them well. At least I used to.

I learned how Conservativism lives, thinks, and breathes at Hillsdale College in Michigan, which is nothing short of a beautifully manicured shrine to all things GOP. And as such, is frequented by the uber echelons of the Party. They come to bask in the reflective glow of the super-duper whiteness. Bleached, sanded and serene. Treed and flowered within an inch of its life. And, like the current GOP, it is getting worse all the time, and will soon be beyond the reach of amendment: More rabidly “Christian,” more likely to pander to the worst impulses of humanity, and more isolated from the rest of the world in its already-rampant superiority complex than at any time in recent memory. When I was at Hillsdale from 1990 to 1994, it was a tiny, Reagan-loving, Rand-reading champion of small government and old-fashioned 'heartland' America. They were just kicking off a fundraising campaign when I started. And so the dignitaries flowed in: William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk, Jeane Kirkpatrick, even an up-and-coming Newt Gingrich. I must say that I was utterly elated when I shook hands with Charlton Heston (this is before his heinous stint as NRA president). He is a huge man. Squared-off and towering, and his handshake was brief, but strong, and his eyes looked right into mine as I blanched and said stupidly, “. . .Hi.”


In retrospect, I recall thinking *nothing whatsoever* at first about the prominent people with whom I was socializing. I had never heard of any major Conservatives (C.H. notwithstanding, and even then I didn’t know his political leaning). Previous to college, I had spent the better part of my waking life painting sets, singing and dancing, and basically living completely immersed in musical theater with my very favorite people on earth. I came to Hillsdale unlearned in politics, but as I observed this world up-close, I grew very uneasy with its basic principles of denial and superiority. By the time of the ‘92 election, I had gotten the scent of the wind, and I knew where I was: Behind enemy lines.

But still for the most part it was an enemy I could respect. I talked openly with friends and dignitaries at dinners, watched them at lectures, and engaged in the usual drunken debates, which always ended good-naturedly with mutual sardonic eye-rollings and slaps on the back. I could eye them warily but affectionately over the gulf of politics. But, as disparaging as I became of their world view, it was never incomprehensible. It is the undeniable change in both the tenor and the substance of the current GOP message that I cannot bear.

The old ideas of Von Mises, Hayek and even Rand have been abandoned in favor of intrusive, theocratic crap. And I watch this creeping plague with one Hillsdale-trained eye on the Old Guard: Where are they? Why are they silent? If the GOP becomes merely the party of the backward and reactionary, where do the likes of Buckley, Kirkpatrick, and even poor George Will fit in? (I say “poor” because lately he has seemed quite ill-at-ease on TV in his given role as the answer-guy for the Bush Agenda.) If the New Right start berating anyone who has traveled —and read books and genuinely attempted to understand other cultures— as the enemy, then who are they really? I tell you this: They are not the heirs of Lincoln, TR, or even Reagan anymore. And they know it.

And so I implore the old GOP to come to its senses: Take back your Party! Remember who you are!! Even Hillsdale had its share of ridiculous, camo-wearing losers, but at least they were generally acknowledged as such. No politician would have embraced them as their “base,” and they certainly would not have continually brandished them like some kind of collective mascot!! The Old Guard would have gone out of its way to *clearly separate* its views from those of the party's least informed and most extreme. Now, the silent cowardice of these same men and women is sickening to me. Better to start your own Bull Moose Party than queasily adopt the new rabid Right manifesto. The nervous, subordinate stance of the old GOP is truly beneath most of them. And I can’t figure out why they don’t realize that it is ultimately they who will cease to exist if this commandeering of their party by the lunatic fringe is allowed to persist. The GOP is already becoming synonymous with Big Meddling Government. Russell Kirk is flipping in his grave.

I want my old adversary back! You can’t reason with people who refuse to read more than one Book, and when not quoting blindly from it, are quoting the likes of Fox News. And if you dare attempt to pull off their new-found mantle of Sanctimonious Deflection they squinch their eyes shut, put their hands over their ears, and bellow some hymn to “ole tyme religion” rather than hear your argument. You would discipline a child who acted like such a brat, but a growing movement of brats must be shaken from within. Give me back the grown-ups who can debate the issues! I know you are in there somewhere! And you need to get cracking!

The truth is that we are simply not armed to fight an enemy who adopts the actions of a stupid, petulant child. And we should not have to be. At least the old GOP could speak in complete sentences.

And in retrospect, I love them for that!

By dks in Guest Authors, Politics | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack | Email this post

May 10, 2005

Cowboy In a Glass House Throwing Stones

This guest post is by first time blogger Epictetus.

I write this shortly after our duly selected president had the chutzpah to lecture Vladimir "the Chekist" Putin about the Soviet Union's actions in Eastern Europe following the Yalta Conference in February, 1945.  The Cowboy emphasized that he would not repeat FDR's mistake in giving the Commies a free hand in Poland, et al., by abandoning today's Middle East to tyranny.

Like so many others, the neofacist chickenhawk staffer who gave the Cowboy his fifteen minute situation report on Roosevelt's sellout got it wrong.

FDR's fatal mistake at Yalta was not selling out to Uncle Joe.  FDR knew before the conference that with the Red Army occupying Eastern Europe, it would be futile to try to ensure free postwar elections in those areas controlled by the Soviets.  Churchill was also well aware of this—it was simply contemporary Realpolitik.  Rather, FDR went wrong in giving the world the impression that Stalin had agreed to hold free elections, especially in Poland, when Stalin had agreed to nothing of the kind.

After Roosevelt's death in April, 1945, he was succeeded by Harry Truman, for whom Yalta was terra incognita, along with everything else FDR had done.  Harry the Unready was ill-served by his advisers who were equally unaware of what had taken place at Yalta.  When, instead of withdrawing his minions and holding free election, Stalin clamped down, Truman concluded that this blood-drinking troll had violated the agreement he made with FDR.  Cue the Cold War.

Roosevelt's failure to be straight with the American people re what did and did not transpire at Yalta opened the door for 60 years of Republican sniping, second-guessing and accusations that the Democrats were soft on Communism.  The Cowboy's recent remarks are the latest manifestation of a charge that will not die.


By EPICTETUS in Foreign Affairs, Guest Authors | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack | Email this post

March 27, 2005

Presidential Perversion: On the Wishlist for 2005

This guest post is by the always funny, newly prolific Courtney of cdeluxe. 

Here is my dirty secret:  I want a good old fashioned scandal for this administration.  One so nasty it could give you a rash.  One that redefines lowbrow and puts the “rank” in “high ranking official.” And the main character in this filthy little drama?  Why, our president, of course - Mr. Mandate himself.

We’ve already had a presidential sex scandal in our lifetimes, see. But it was two consenting adults and somehow, the Democrats’ love affair with one of the principals continues to endure.   We need something that is so inexcusable and so tawdry that Bushies will genuflect and wail and question themselves into lifetimes of paralyzing self-doubt.  The administration will topple like a box of Cheerios, the detritus tumbling everywhere.  The puppet masters and sycophants will roll under the nearest cover and pray they stay hidden; the others will get crushed into powder underfoot.

Bush’s trademark sneer – the constant and indelible sign that he is, indeed, a smug asshole - will be permanently wiped from his face. It will be replaced by a look of horrified incredulity. Not the kind of look that crosses his puss when he sees a three-syllable word, but the kind that comes with a fall from grace so profound, so terrific, that it costs him all that is dear. He will forever wear a mask of stupefaction and shame.

There is one huge flaw with my scenario. I think it has to involve a victim. Help me out here. I cannot imagine a situation without a victim that would cause the requisite amount of horror. Then again, maybe it can simply be old-fashioned perversion. Choke balls, genital mutilation, swinger parties, that sort of thing. Consenting adults, but really f-ed up stuff. But is that going to be awful enough? There is nothing illegal about being a sexual deviant, unless you hold a wife-swap in the Lincoln Bedroom or something. Don’t befoul the Abe, yo. And if Bush pulls any of this dirty business in Texas, I’ll bet there is some backasswards law that makes him not only a nasty little man, but a felon too.

Empathetic yet unoriginal theorists suggest an affair with Condi. Hmph. Too facile, people. And White Southern Republicans having forbidden sex with African American women? So done. Although admittedly, her power and prestige would add a new wrinkle to the age-old tradition. But still, I say, not horrific enough. We need something that will FRIGHTEN the old guard, not bore them.

So somehow lying to get into a war was not a mutually agreed-upon scandal. Neither is this Halliburton atrocity, even though I am permanently slack-jawed at the details. Even his mispronunciations and general duncedom are not widely accepted as scandals. So just give me something frighteningly disastrous, please. I’ll use up my schadenfreude chit with just this one grotesque presidential circus. Then I will be Magnanimous Millie, I promise. Just as pristine of character as anyone with a mandate.

By Courtney in Guest Authors, Humor/Satire | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Email this post