Friday, September 07, 2007

Now Here's Another Problem with the March on Washington

Just call me a control freak and deal with it, okay?

In the very first instance - first and foremost - demonstrations can do some good. And a whale of a good demonstration can do a whale of a lot of good, especially budging the Bush-lite congressmen off their dime. But this September 29th March on Washington demonstration looks like it was planned and organized by a bunch of Liberals.

We would be a lot better off if Progressives were running things.

To demonstrate what I mean, let me quote one of my most favorite bloggers and commenters, the Wizard, fkap. Where I find fault in the big tent of Liberalism, Wizard finds virtue:
The Democrat Party has been hijacked by so-called "Progressives." They don't like to be called liberals, not even with a small "l." They have a plan of progressing from point "A" to point "B."

. . . . The "Big Tent" is long gone.

Today's progressives . . . . In their mind [stuff] somehow stands in the way of the path from "A" to B." Today's progressive wing has a litmus test: "Oppose all things Bush."
The first response I have to make to Wizard is that Progressives do agree on at least one Point B: Bush & Cheney's legacy should be aborted and repudiated ASAP. Only those who see Shrub and Shooter as anything other than America's own home-grown international war criminals can disagree with the priority of that Point B.

I don't have much space to fill or time to take here, so I'll accept Wizard's framing of the issue.
Progressivism is a way of thinking about political agendas. It imposes a degree of discipline upon otherwise undisciplined Liberals:
  • Understand where you are (Point A), why you are there, why you need to move on, and where you want to go (Point B).
  • Understand that measures, policies, and conflicting goals which do not promote movement along this line from A to B can become distractions and diversions and fatal to progress.
Let's see what demands the big tent of Liberals has staked this demonstration to. Click to expand and look at this poster to the right. Parsimony is 'hard work', but definitely called for in this case of the March on Washington. Which of these items are congruent to ending Bush-Cheney occupation of Iraq and the U.S.A.? and which are not? Trying to be as generous and accepting (liberal) as possible, there are some that just have to be stricken from the demonstration marquee. I can easily defend the pertinence of remaining planks:
  • Impeachment!
  • No War against Iran!
  • End all occupations now - from Iraq to Palestine, the Philippines, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Afghanistan
  • Support The Right to Return - from Palestine to New Orleans
  • No to U.S. intervention - Hands off Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Zimbabwe, and the Sudan
  • Stop the raids against immigrant workers -- Full rights for undocumented workers
  • Justice for Katrina survivors - End racist police terror - Stop the war against Muslims
  • Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, the Cuban Five, and all political prisoners
  • Money for health care, jobs and education, not endless war occupation.
If there are going to be speakers, signs & songs about all these divergent and unrelated causes, the message of the demonstration will be lost in the disparite din. It's not that some causes to be excluded are not worthy; it's about them not being related to moving toward Point B. It's about them being needlessly offensive, alienating and off-putting to otherwise attracted participants. Demonstrations have to have a unifying theme.

Good demonstrations are focused and disciplined. Otherwise the vital message is lost; scarce resources of time, finances, energy, loyalties are squandered. A big tent is critically important for a circus, maybe important to the Democratic Party, but worse than useless in a political demonstration.

Stop the War?

What's wrong with this poster?
Well, it's quite obvious.
The frame needs to be switched, majorly. If I had the talent for airbrushing, I would fix it myself. All I can do is,
For the demonstration at the capitol, I also like:
Occupy the Occupiers!!!
Because, for the last half-dozen years, I have felt that I have been living under an occupation which is quite alien to my American experience. But that is another story....

The difference between Liberals and Progressives is that Liberals still use Bush and Cheney's frame. We won the war with Iraq. Bush declared victory on 1 May 03. We captured Saddam in his spider hole that December. He's long dead & gone.

We are in occupation mode (the lowest common-denominator mission that ever gets assigned to a military force). The current task for Progressives is to bring an end to our current OCCUPATION before it can be re-kindled into a WAR again (with Iran). WARS - theoretically - can be won or lost and their stakes contain within them a nucleus for patriotic memes as old as the hills. Those good-ol' chauvinist impulses such as jingoism, imperialism and the like.

Occupations, OTOH, are never won; they are only taxing - on occupiers and occupied alike - until ended. Bush wants to be a WAR-TIME president, not an OCCUPATION president. Why are Liberals so compliant in satisfying his wannabee status?

This is a far better poster:

Because it's focused on the occupation of Iraq
and the word 'war' appears only in the names
of supporting organizations.

Republican of the Week: John Dean

Actually, he may only be an ex-Republican.

It's just that I'm so desperate to find a Republican to praise, that this week, I've resorted to selecting a possible ex-Republican.

I've looked into this and have not ascertained if Dean still is registered as a Republican. All that is certifiable is that he once was very Republican. (Many of us were.)

  • He volunteered to write position papers on crime for Nixon's presidential campaign in 1968.
  • The following year he became an Associate Deputy at the office of the Attorney General of the United States in the Nixon administration.
  • White House Counsel to U.S. President Richard Nixon from July 1970 until April 1973.
  • Dean pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice before Watergate trial judge John Sirica on November 30, 1973 and served time.
  • He launched a career in investment banking until 2000, when he made his part-time night job - writing - his full time day job.
That has culminated in his 2006 book, Conservatives Without Conscience. He has undertaken this week to summarize his book in his web pages, FindLaw. He anticipates a three-part series entitled Understanding the Contemporary Republican Party: Authoritarians Have Taken Control. In the first of these, Dean writes:
Most conservatives today do not believe that conservatism can or should be defined. They claim that it not an ideology, but rather merely an attitude. . . .

Conservatives once looked to the past for what it could teach about the present and the future. Early conservatives were traditionalists or libertarians, or a bit of both. Today, however, there are religious conservatives, economic conservatives, social conservatives, cultural conservatives, neoconservatives, traditional conservatives, and a number of other factions.

Within these factions, there is a good amount of inconsistency and variety, but the movement has long been held together through the power of negative thinking. The glue of the movement is in its perceived enemies. Conservatives once found a common concern with respect to their excessive concern about communism (not that liberals and progressive were not concerned as well, but they were neither paranoid nor willing to mount witch hunts). When communism was no longer a threat, the dysfunctional conservative movement rallied around its members' common opposition to anything they perceived as liberal. (This was, in effect, any point of view that differed from their own, whether it was liberal or not.)

To understanding conservatives thinking, it is important to examine not merely what conservatives believe, but also why they believe it.
Based upon exacting empirical research, The Authoritarians, by Bob Altemeyer, (a Yale and Carnegie-Mellon-trained social psychologist based at the University of Manitoba), Dean concludes that the modern Republican has an authoritarian personality:
While not all conservatives are authoritarians, all highly authoritarian personalities are political conservatives.

. . . .There are two types of authoritarians: leaders (the few) and followers (the many). . . . authoritarians are frequently enemies of freedom, antidemocratic, anti-equality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian, and amoral.
All of which goes a long way toward explaining why I've had such difficulty in finding Republicans to praise who measure up to Barry Goldwater's principled conservatism.