Saturday, March 22, 2014

Do We Really Want Political Dynasties?

== Come on… must we? ==
The verdict has been declared… at least by one political seer. " It's over: Jeb Bush will be the GOP nominee in 2016."
Oy!  And with Hillary the democratic heir-apparent -- and with the next-generation George P. Bush running for office in Texas… and rumors of Chelsea Clinton -- where does that put us, dynasty-wise?
Mind you, I have very different opinions of these two clans, one of which oversaw twin eras of absolutely perfect mis-rule and ruin for the United States, without a single positive outcome in any metric, while the other is recalled as generally effective and decent -- if fraught with a few personal flaws.
Still, do we really want this?
Way back in 2007, I suggested a bit of theater to put it all in satirical perspective. Picture a black-turtleneck-clad greek chorus holding up alternating pictures as they chant. The first round consists of just one phrase as they hold up one placard, labeled "1980" -- that shows the gipper with Bush Sr. And they shout "REAGAN-BUSH!"
The second round repeats showing 1980, then the same pair again, labeled "1984."  So the shan't is REAGAN-BUSH! REAGAN-BUSH!

Then 1980 and 1984 again but with one more cycle added… Bush Sr. alone in 1988… "REAGAN-BUSH! REAGAN-BUSH! BUSH!"

 You can envision each round getting longer as we then add Bill Clinton twice, then Bush Junior twice, each time reiterating a chant that adds one more layer…
That last chant would have shown Hillary 2008. We'd then repeat the whole thing culminating in her second term. Then repeat again for 2016 showing Jeb… and Jeb again in 2020… and then… Chelsea?
Read the whole script here: Reagan Bush, Reagan Bush, Bush Clinton...
And yes, history passed that scenario by.  Though… why not resurrect the work of satirical art, updated and revised? All that's needed is to interrupt the repetitious chant with a double pause while the chorus offers a respite of two hosannahs… O-Bah-mah! O-Bah-mah! … before going back to the rhythmic Battle of the Dynasties.
If any street theater types want to pull off this satire, I can offer the whole script.
To be clear… I have no major beef with Hillary Clinton.  And Jeb does seem to be the least awful of his calamitous clan. Still, as I said earlier… oy. We don't have to do things this way.
== "Ostrich" conservatives! There are places for you! So lift your heads ==
Ostrich-conservativesI have mentioned before that among the crucial demographic of "ostrich conservatives" -- millions of decent folks who are in desperate denial over  the hijacking of their once-intellectually rich movement of giants like Goldwater and Buckley -- are waking up and lifting their heads to confront the GOP's veer down insanity lane.  Ashamed of the War on Science and the abandonment of any pretense of support for small business or fiscal responsibility -- or even common sense -- some genuine discussion is happening at THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE Magazine.
Another Goldwater-Buckley type wrote to me about the Hoover Institution:
"Interestingly, some good climate scientists are (or at least were) Republicans (Jim Hansen, Richard Alley, Kerry Emanuel, and some folks at the Hoover Institution, like George Shultz, who helped to fight the Tesoro/Valero/Koch initiative to undo AB32, and who gushes over his Nissan Leaf.  Unlike most of these thinktanks, that’s actually (mostly) a center of legitimate conservative thought, of the old-style conservatives, not Tea Party. It is certainly disheartening to see the disappearance of the oldstyle moderate Republicans, like Sherwood Boehlert or Olympia Snowe."
Alas, in the Murdochian push to reclassify "libertarianism" as purely anti-government, rather than pro-competition, the Powers that have done the hijacking are foisting on us ravers like Judge Andrew Napolitano, whose recent rants - based 100% on concocted falsehoods - against Abraham Lincoln clarify their purpose.  To ensure that "government of the people, by the people, for the people SHALL perish from the Earth."

No government.  Hm… I wonder why billionaire feudal-lord inheritance oligarchs would want that….
==  political miscellany ==
When May I Shoot a Student? An essay in which a Boise State University professor comments (tongue in cheek I hope) about the many advantages of Idaho's (soon to be) new law allowing guns on university campuses. A work of art that will make simultaneously laugh and cry…. What a crazy country we live in!
How to respond to people who claim the ACA didn't originate from the GOP.  Better yet just repeat this to republicans. "Obamacare was your… own… damn… plan."


Tom Crowl said...

Perhaps a simplification but there has always been a populist vs. elitist faction within every oligarchy.

It doesn't seem to help.

The natural drive to wealth concentration.... accompanied by the altruism dilemma (which provides the tribal self-justification which accompanies all class structures)...

Makes for a very pessimistic outcome.

Especially when serious solutions require the participation of those most benefiting by the problem.

Andreas said...

We've been there a thousand times.
A thousand times a thousand times.
We do actually know where the balance lies.

A real conservative seeks to "keep what works", unstated: "fix or get rid of what doesn't work".

We know it works to have free access to education and healthcare.
We know it works to reduce the earnings gap between the wealthiest and the poorest.

These things increase the stamina of the economy, and reduce the frequency of civil unrest.

But that only benefits the people who intend to live in the society.
The people who are planning to jettison the rest of the world are not interested in sustainability.

Tony Fisk said...

Dynasty chant: I wonder if Amanda Palmer would be up for it?

Carl M. said...

Campaign finance limitations. They work!

LarryHart said...

The problem with whether a strategy "works" is that the concept depends on what one is trying to accomplish.

To the Murdochians, what "works" is what maintains their personal status at the top of a negative-sum game. From their point of view, FOX News "works", while the New Deal and Great Society do not.

Paul451 said...

I'd call "When may I shoot a student" a lovely Swiftian Modest Proposal, except, unlike Swift, the premise is actually being legalised.

Tom Crowl said...

The wealth/power concentraton which plays such a large part in the rise of dynasties... and the death of civilizations...

Can be addressed to some extent by a better understanding of the nature of money... and especially its methods of creation and introduction into a society.

Its always been essentially a political process... controlled by an elite.

The FED was actually an attempt to 'depoliticize' the money creation process.

This worked for a while because there it was a great period of physical growth for the civilization (infrastructure, industrialization) which required a workforce within the social body. AND there were devleping mechanisms for worker 'feedback' (unions) all counter-balancing forces of concentration.

As we are seeing... this model has reached its limit. Money creation is thoroughly politicized... to the benefit of an increasingly corrupt financial class and the two parties of the duopoly (one of which used to represent workers and the other business... now both represent narrow interests but mask it with ideological rhetoric which some of them seem to believe)

The micropayment AND its network have critical roles to play in BOTH restoring methods of feedback...

As well as providing the root for an additional/supplemental/alternative avenue for currency creation and introduction.

I remain disgusted and appalled that there are simply no places for such innovations to be presented or discussed.

These are not a simple-minded models designed for a trivial purpose.

The comments here should be some illustration of the general disgust with the current paradigm... along with the feeling of futility about anything being done to change it.

And that itself is a problem. There are no tools for feedback that we feel have any impact.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Tom Crowl has described the history of money in the United States exactly right. We badly need a complete restructuring of the Federal Reserve to do things almost exactly the opposite of the way they are done today.

The points at which money is now created in the system assure that the middle economic class will continue to disintegrate, and that those who are politically well-connected will thrive even more.

Many of the people who are unemployed or underemployed today have the skills to thrive under an efficient micropayments system. The FED is the primary controller of how banking is done in the United States (and, indirectly, throughout the world). The Federal Reserve should be re-structured so as to encourage an efficient system of micropayments.

Tim H. said...

Optimize for the working class and, mostly, the rest falls into place. Middle and upper class folk live better when more folk are able to spend more, the .1% might lose some exclusivity.

Tony Fisk said...

In his book "Here on Earth", Tim Flannery likened the ecology of the mammoth steppes to an economy with mammoths acting as bankers keeping the grassy currency in circulation.

Then some neolithic GFC predators killed off the bankers and locked the greenery in permafrost.

Like many analogies it probably doesn't stand up to close scrutny, but it's certainly a dramatic one.

David Brin said...