Finally! Clarity. And now, each of us can find ways help to carry this revolution forward.
One way -- simply add a little to the tsunami of small donations to Senator Obama's campaign... and contributing to the Democratic Party, so the fight can be taken down to the level of Congressional and state districts, where the real transformation awaits. Seriously, if you donate to one, please match with the other.
Nevertheless, it is both futile and unamerican -- as well as rather pathetic -- to yearn for salvation at the hands of some charismatic leader-politician. That sends the wrong message, especially to the politicians! At another level, this year is about ending Culture War the only way it can be won... by swaying our fellow citizens, one at a time. Each of us taking responsibility to change this battlefield our country's become. Not by attacking Red America, but by shattering the Red Coalition. By aksing “decent conservatives” to leave the neoconservative cult that has ruined their movement and nearly ruined our country.
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Not all conservatives will be approachable. Even the minority who are still willing to talk -- like that quirky but lovable uncle of yours -- may take umbrage if you go after them with typical liberal cant or Michael Moore rants. The method I have recommended is to show the decent-but-in-denial “ostrich” conservatives that they have been betrayed by the GOP even in strictly conservative terms I’ve provided a detailed playbook, The Ostrich Papers: How it Will Take All Decent Americans to Restore Decency to America, for awakening such ostriches, along with a much shorter, handy Cheat Sheet for Ostrich Hunters.
And there are plenty of “roused ostriches” out there who can make yours feel not-alone! Here’s an example: Frank Schaeffer writing in the Huffington Post.
Then again, if your ostriches can’t stomach Obama, steer them to the Libertarians! I am unabashed about wishing libertarians - who at least have a foundation of freedom-loving sincerity - would become more reasonable and pragmatic, then earn their proper place as America’s second party (while the Republicans go the way of the Whigs and Know-Nothings!) True, this year’s LP candidate is an especially nasty and noxious piece of work; still, if small government republicans were to flood into the LP, it could both help demolish the GOP and transform libertarianism itself, perhaps even turning it into something worth talking about.
There are other things we can do. Volunteer for poll-watching or precinct work. Help a local state assembly campaign! Again, these low-level races are where change matters most. Here’s my own favorite: Find and register any unregistered voters and help students prepare to vote absentee, in November. (This often messes them up.) Get better acquainted with any members of the military you know, and listen, humbly, to their concerns.
And listen for signs of whatever last-ditch trick the neocons have up their sleeves. Currently, paranoia is running rife over a possible attack on Iran, with betting that the US Navy won’t cooperate, but the Air Force is a-raring to go. Signs and portents are studied, like the recent firing of Admiral Fallon from head of Central Command... and the even more recent firing of several Air Force officials by Defense Secretary Gates. (The former was clearly a putsch by the Bush White House. The latter MAY be something of a counter-attack by Gates.)
Is Gates the “adult in the room” who will defend us from some awful stunt? Some final frat-boy prank? Will the intelligence community rouse itself, at last, and remember its duty to protect us even from monsters at the top? Stay tuned.
===As “Mr. Transparency”... Let’s say I approve...===
a bill to expand public access to information about government spending. The bill, known as “The Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008,” was crafted on a bipartisan basis with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, is also an original co-sponsor of the bill, as is Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE). This is far bigger than it looks! Because I contend that the biggest ripoff of the Bush Administration was its use of “emergency” over-rides to bypass normal contracting rules!
Say what? Contracting rules? How boring! No wonder almost no pundits or newsfolk have even glanced at this issue. And yet, it is arguably the main purpose of the Iraq War! Forget Michael Moore’s ditzo-moronic explanation that “it’s all about oil.” Do YOU see floods of Iraqi oil pouring into the west? No, follow the actual money! While our armed forces suffer and bleed and lose their readiness, almost a trillion dollars has poured into the open maws of “field service contractors” like Halliburton, KBR and Blackwater, through no-bid, crony contracts to Bush family friends, bypassing normal procedures... because this is an “emergency.”
Let there be no mistake. THIS is a top reason for the war, because -- other than demolishing our alliances, economy, readiness, reputation and happiness -- it represents the number one assertive effect of all this trauma. Everything else is window dressing. And that is why Senator Obama’s bill is so important. (Note, as evidence for how important this is, Senator McCain is also behind it. He may be wrongheaded and half crazy, but at least he isn’t a corrupt traitor.)
===Make Science an Issue!===
Is Obama going to be the first politician who actually gets it, that all the polls and focus groups and pablum-advice from consultants follow public opinion? A politician can also lead it! And one place where a suprise turn might make a real difference is by assertively making science and technology an issue.
Yes, it would seem that middle Americans and battleground states aren’t interested. And yes, most scientists are already backing BHO. Still, even mentioning the devastation that the GOP has wrought upon our scientific and technological leadership could resonate more powerfully than any consultant would imagine. There are hundreds of thousands of savvy people out there who would see this as a sign that Obama can see a few steps beyond an election.
And nothing says “hope” better than expressing a belief in our ability to solve problems.
suggestions to the Democratic Congress” l was one that should have been a no-brainer, automatic first-step. Upon entering office, Nancy Pelosi should simply have re-established the independent Congressional science and technology advisory apparatus that was dismantled by Newt Gingrich and his colleagues, as the very first shot in the Republican War on Science. I do not know why she and her fellow congressional leaders have abstained from such a simple, inexpensive and dramatic step, which could be achieved without even much worry about a presidential veto. It would make clear the most extreme partisan difference of all, between one side that is “reality based” and the other, with its dependence upon fevered dogma and rejection of evidence.
Of course, beyond scoring political points, it would also simply be the right and smart and responsible thing to do. Anyway, I’ll keep plugging at this -- and I hope you folks will, too.
Only now another thought occurs to me. Rep. Pelosi might consider adding a layer to the science advisory apparatus. Here’s what I recommend. In addition to setting up methods to ensure that the main science advisory panels remain politically neutral, she might call for an outer, advisory commission, consisting of one eminent scientist or other professional, appointed by each member of Congress, independent of party. These 535 luminaries (who would serve pro-bono) would receive all Congressional technical reports and have the right to post, online, their own appraisals and discussions. In effect, it would be the “scientific and technical shadow” of Congress, since each senator or representative will have chosen (upon advice) the “best” technically savvy person in his or her district, who is also basically compatible with his or her viewpoint.
1) This could staunch propaganda about the main Congressional advisory panels being biased, since the shadow commission would keep a wary eye.
2) If this outer commission reaches consensus to accept (or revise) a particular proposal, then it would provide political cover for the Senator or Congressperson to do the same.
3) And now the less-elevated but politically potent part. There is a significant portion of today’s Congress that is genuinely loony and biliously hateful toward science. These men and women claim not to be, and hence, they would have to cooperate superficially, and appoint their own members to the commission. But this will put them into a terrible bind. If they choose somebody eminent, with genuine credentials and peer respect, they risk getting unwelcome news from their own appointee. On the other hand,, suppose they pick a “scientist” of the flaky, fifth tier, primarily on the basis of some dogma-driven agenda like climate change denial or creationism -- then this will put the representative on record, in the open. The appointment will be open for glaring scrutiny... and politically-damaging hilarity.
This commission would be a complete win-win for Pelosi and the Congressional Democrats. Alas, though. Bets whether anything like it will happen?
===And on a related note...===
Nothing better distills the need for subtlety, in this changing political environment, more than the news that (forced by a court order) the Bush White House has finally (four years late) released its official, compiled assessment of the likely effects of global climate change on the United States and its citizens. The good news? They now are on record admitting GCC is real, major, threatening and driven hard by human-generated pollution. The bad news? We are still being led by people who were forced to admit this, after years of lies and deception.
Where does subtlety come in? Don’t you want to just run around and rub this in the noses of all those morons who parroted the Fox News “balanced” line, calling for “more research” while at the same time torpedoing science budgets? Well, remember that we aren’t in this for the satisfaction of screaming. In order to achieve pragmatic results, we must distinguish between “ostriches” and “troglodytes.”
Trogs are folks who are hopeless. They are enemies of the Enlightenment for reasons that are too deep and psychological ever to rise up and offer loyalty to a modern civilization that’s been very good to them. Underneath their surface rationalizations -- e.g. religious dogma, ‘suspicion of government’ (while vampirically using it), or imperialism - lies a far more basic layer of loathing that you’ll never ease or palliate with reason. Facts mean nothing, since they have been wrong repeatedly, for the last half century - about civil rights, womens’ rights, the environment, education - yet they keep adapting with stunning agility, for example, putting pictures of Martin Luther King - and Clarence Thomas - on their walls and denying that they had ever been racist. Just watch how, within a year or two, these same folk will start denying that they had ever been Climate Change deniers! What’s needed right now is for folks to get these trogs on record, before the latest sudden veer of conservatism has a chance to really take hold. Get them to stake their future credibility upon their fast-decaying denial mantra. If possible get it in writing. But at minimum, get them to say it, aloud.
I speak of them extensively elsewhere. These folks are victims of the neocon madness. We need them to lift their heads, in order to end Culture War. In order to do this, the latest neocon veer should be used as a pointed example, to show them that they cannot trust Fox or the exploitive right. If they want a decent conservatism, they will have to rise up and help re-invent it, by separating it from the monsters now controlling the movement. First step: helping us send the neocons packing.
See more: Politics for the Twenty-first Century