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We Need Militant Nationalism
#81
(07-27-2017, 11:57 AM)David Horn Wrote: Business leaders try to act longsighted, but most are like Trump: tactical with a very short horizon.  This is even more the case today, since the idea that we should embrace disruption means that a year is a strategic limit.  I'll wager that the disruption meme dies entirely before the neo-Prophets are old enough to kill it .. which they will if it still exists by the time they get old enough to wield a little power. 

These shortening time frames are in direct conflict with the theory, though.  If the theory hold water, the underlying dynamic must come from outside the power elite.  I sincerely hope so.  The economic elites haven't done much for anyone but themselves since the dawn of time.

I'm for the most part with you, but the power elite have served one positive function. You can't hold a revolution without someone to revolt against. Humans strive for wealth and power, in one form or another. Making a dent in the most abusive helps, but doesn't end the conflict. Whether the elites are economic, military, religious, hereditary or whatever, the need for vigilance and strife isn't apt to go away.
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#82
Flake is a flake, whatever he says. I give him that he is a man of principle, compared to his colleagues. But he voted with them. He votes to install Trump's alligators, as well as votes to repeal and replace, and most the other Trump and Republican programs and policies.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#83
(08-01-2017, 02:44 PM)X_4AD_84 Wrote: The new book from Jeff Flake appears to be worthwhile. Here's a CNN write up about it:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/01/politics/j...index.html

============================================

1. "Who could blame the people who felt abandoned and ignored by the major parties for reaching in despair for a candidate who offered oversimplified answers to infinitely complex questions and managed to entertain them in the process?"


This is as cogent -- and brief -- an explanation for the rise of Trump as I have seen. Trump capitalized on frustration and alienation with the two-party system. And he took advantage of that most basic part of human nature: When faced with the utter complexity of the world around us, we look for simple solutions to make us feel better. Trump's promise to immediately make everything better with a snap of his fingers appealed to all of the people in the country who felt overwhelmed/angry/anxious about the ever-mounting problems they faced on a daily basis.

2. "It was we conservatives who, upon Obama's election, stated that our No. 1 priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president—the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success and the fortunes of the citizenry would presumably be sorted out in the meantime."

This is a DIRECT shot at McConnell. In October 2010, he said this to National Journal: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." It became a rallying cry for Democrats, who insisted that it revealed that Republicans had no intention of ever even trying to work with Obama, believing it in their political interests to oppose him and his proposals at every turn. Flake rejects this sort of zero-sum game thinking and, in the process, delivers a major slap at the Senate leader's political worldview.

3. "To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial."


Democrats have been shouting "THIS IS NOT NORMAL" about Trump's actions in office since, well, he got into office. Flake argues that they are right -- and that Republicans have been trying to explain away Trump's lack of normality for far too long. Inherent in this argument by Flake is that Republicans have long known what they are doing -- trying to normalize or ignore Trump's behavior because it was in their political interest.

4. "I've been sympathetic to this impulse to denial, as one doesn't ever want to believe that the government of the United States has been made dysfunctional at the highest levels, especially by the actions of one's own party."


Flake makes clear here that he is not blameless in all of this, attributing his slow waking-up to the dangers caused by Trump's actions in office to the fact that the mind tends to try to see what it wants to see.

5. "It would be like Noah saying, 'If I spent all my time obsessing about the coming flood, there would be little time for anything else.'"

In one sentence, Flake annihilates his -- and the broader Republican -- response to Trump's almost-constant controversial comments.

Dismissing Trump's tweets by saying he didn't have time to read them was, Flake acknowledges, a massive cop-out. The tweets -- as reporters like me have long argued -- are the centerpiece of this administration since they reflect the actual thinking and mood of the President of the United States. Ignoring them isn't an option.

6. "Too often, we observe the unfolding drama along with the rest of the country, passively, all but saying, 'Someone should do something!' without seeming to realize that that someone is us."

The Constitution, Flake notes, enumerates that the job of oversight of the executive branch falls to the legislative branch. Which means that it's up to Congress -- even if it is Republican-controlled -- to ask hard questions about Trump and his administration. Abdicating that responsibility for political purposes is simply not acceptable, Flake argues.

7. "There was a time when the leadership of the Congress from both parties felt an institutional loyalty that would frequently create bonds across party lines in defense of congressional prerogatives in a unified front against the White House, regardless of the president's party."


Again, this is a shot at McConnell -- not to mention House Speaker Paul Ryan. Flake is making the case that Congress should be bigger than any one party or any one president. And that by walking away from its role as a check and balance on Trump, Republican leaders are putting party before country.

8. "If by 2017 the conservative bargain was to go along for the very bumpy ride because with congressional hegemony and the White House we had the numbers to achieve some long-held policy goals—even as we put at risk our institutions and our values—then it was a very real question whether any such policy victories wouldn't be Pyrrhic ones. If this was our Faustian bargain, then it was not worth it."


This line is the crux on which the whole piece stands. What Flake is doing is taking apart the argument at the heart of why so many conservatives supported Trump: Because he would enact something closer to their agenda than would Hillary Clinton. Congressional Republicans openly admitted in the run-up to the 2016 election that Trump's personal conduct was totally unacceptable to them but they were for him anyway because he would appoint more conservative Supreme Court justices, work to lower taxes and get rid of regulations. For that promise, Flake argues, Republicans gave up their principles. And the juice wasn't worth the squeeze.

9. "Meanwhile, the strange specter of an American president's seeming affection for strongmen and authoritarians created such a cognitive dissonance among my generation of conservatives—who had come of age under existential threat from the Soviet Union—that it was almost impossible to believe."


This reflects just how radically different Trump's views on Russia are from his party. The simple reality is that Trump represents a total break from the way the Republican party has positioned itself vis a vis Russia for more than three decades.

10. "We shouldn't hesitate to speak out if the president 'plays to the base' in ways that damage the Republican Party's ability to grow and speak to a larger audience."

Good advice but hard to follow given a) the size of Trump's megaphone and b) his repeated willingness to play to the base on everything from immigration to the media to, well, everything.

11. "We have taken our 'institutions conducive to freedom,' as Goldwater put it, for granted as we have engaged in one of the more reckless periods of politics in our history. In 2017, we seem to have lost our appreciation for just how hard won and vulnerable those institutions are."


"One of the more reckless periods of politics in our history." Those are very strong words coming from any politician but especially from a conservative Republican. And Flake's broader concern about fragility of our institutions amid all of this recklessness is chilling.

The conservative politicians are beginning to recognize that the demagogue Donald Trump is a Frankenstein monster -- great at destroying what one might want destroyed, but ultimately unstoppable except through drastic means. Mitch McConnell is not the only one to misjudge him. President Trump may have been useful to conservatives in ensuring that Democrats are completely irrelevant to the political process for at least two years -- unless dissidents within the GOP find that they need Democrats to stop the damage.

We may have to go back to the old politics in which the local judgment of a Congressional Representative was that he brought home the goodies that government could offer -- like farm subsidies in rural areas, urban aid in the slums, and highway projects. Such made partisanship and ideology much less relevant. That is far better than government by lobbyists.

Conservatives might have decided that Obama had enough things in common in style and objectives. Maybe they could have decided that eight  years of Obama wasn't the worst thing that could happen. His foreign policy was conventional. Maybe Republicans could have demanded concessions on ACA like the increase in taxes to make it viable (payroll taxes, maybe excise taxes on cancerweed and alcohol).
Maybe they could have forced tort reform to reduce medical costs without reducing the quality of medical care.  If conservative Republicans could survive Bill Clinton, then they could certainly survive Barack Obama.

When disapproval ratings of the President go near or into the 60s, then the President is losing conservative support.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#84
Jeff Flake is a principled dinosaur. We should listen to him carefully, and heed his warnings, but following his lead is simply unwise. He harkens back to the Goldwater ideas, which were old when Goldwater pitched them.
Intelligence is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom, but they all play well together.
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#85
Jeff Flake Wrote:8. If by 2017 the conservative bargain was to go along for the very bumpy ride because with congressional hegemony and the White House we had the numbers to achieve some long-held policy goals—even as we put at risk our institutions and our values—then it was a very real question whether any such policy victories wouldn't be Pyrrhic ones.

Trump was perfectly willing to sign any healthcare legislation Congressional Republicans sent to him.  Republicans had already passed legislation to repeal Obamacare, which Obama had vetoed. All they had to do was pass this exact same bill.  It would have taken a week. They didn't do it because they knew if they did it would cost them their majority.  That Obamacare could be repealed and replaced in a way that would have good outcomes for Republicans was a LIE.
 
Quote:1. Who could blame the people who felt abandoned and ignored by the major parties for reaching in despair for a candidate who offered oversimplified answers to infinitely complex questions and managed to entertain them in the process?

Besides the repeal Obamacare lie, there is the Iraq bundle of lies. Republican fiscal irresponsibility is legion yet they claim to be fiscal conservatives--another lie. Republicans SAY they are opposed to stimulus because it does not work, yet Bush enacted TWO stimulus programs and the TARP, so they lied about that too. And in each case, they were lying to their base, not the opposition. Can you blame GOP base voters for being very angry with their party?
 
When in office what do they do? Pass tax cuts for high earners. What don’t they even try to do? Come up with conservative policies that work for base voters. None of this is Trump’s fault. Trump presented himself as a corrective, someone who would push policies (trade and immigration restrictions) Republican elites loathe, but otherwise act as a giant wrecking ball in Washington. He is making some progress on one of policy, and is doing a dandy job of wrecking the place.
 
Quote:2. "It was we conservatives who, upon Obama's election, stated that our No. 1 priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president—the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success...

I would point out that Obama's (perceived) failure WAS a Republican political success.  Flake's conservatives were RIGHT.
 
Quote:3. "To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial."

What choice did they have?  Suppose they replaced Trump with Pence, who is one of their own. Who can they blame when they fuck up horribly?  At least with Trump they can blame Bannon, possibly forcing their base to support more Bush clones.
 
Quote:4-7. I've been sympathetic to this impulse to denial, as one doesn't ever want to believe that the government of the United States has been made dysfunctional at the highest levels, especially by the actions of one's own party... (but) It would be like Noah saying, 'If I spent all my time obsessing about the coming flood, there would be little time for anything else.'
Quote:Too often, we observe the unfolding drama along with the rest of the country, passively, all but saying, 'Someone should do something!' without seeming to realize that that someone is us.
 
Quote:Meanwhile, the strange specter of an American president's seeming affection for strongmen and authoritarians created such a cognitive dissonance among my generation of conservatives—who had come of age under existential threat from the Soviet Union—that it was almost impossible to believe.

Well after lying to them for decades, telling them up is down and black is white, how can you blame them for cognitive dissonance?
 
Quote:7. "There was a time when the leadership of the Congress from both parties felt an institutional loyalty that would frequently create bonds across party lines in defense of congressional prerogatives in a unified front against the White House, regardless of the president's party.

That was when most members of Congress had first been elected during the Democratic heyday of 1933-ca. 1974. By the early nineties this was no longer the case, and this loyalty dwindled as the old guard retired or died.
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#86
(08-24-2017, 12:41 PM)X_4AD_84 Wrote: BTW, it's probably obvious I am channeling my inner GI.

Irrespective of the current social, economic and political clusterfucks going on currently in the US, and the West overall, I have stepped on board the Civic train. I am ready for the new Civics to rise to the occasion. The leading edge ones are already seasoned enough to lead. Who are the next JFKs and Reagans?

To the Boomers and some of the Silents, the GIs seemed like bigots. I would say they were pro American, and if that is a type of bigotry, so be it. I'm that type of bigot too.

Some of the GIs were bigots.  The country was flawed, and many would often cling to the flaws.  The GIs as a whole, however, stepped up and got things done in time.  One problem with bigotry is that not everybody matches the stereotype that you'd anticipate.  It is better to treat people as individuals than members of this class or that.

What I'd say of the GIs, the best of them, given 20 20 hindsight, is they were willing and ready to solve problems.  If that was American, I'm pro American too, but I'd still watch out about who really fits one's stereotype, and not flailing against people who don't deserve it.
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