Sunday, June 22, 2014

Declarations Of War Part 2: Our Supposed Allies

"There are two parties in America: the Stupid Party and the Evil Party, and I'm proud to be a member of the Stupid Party." -- Irving Kristol.

Yes, we are at war, willy-nilly, with "our" federal government. Yet we are told that within that government we have allies: persons nominally pledged to the protection of our individual rights and the constraints imposed upon Washington by the Constitution. They call themselves Republicans.

We hear about Republicans' devotion to our defense, and to unswerving Constitutional fidelity, no less often than every two years, during the six months or so preceding a biennial election. It's then that they strive to remind us that they're our best protection against the evil intentions of the Democrats -- and make no mistake, Gentle Reader: the Democrats really are evil. They've dedicated their lives in "public service" to the advance of American totalitarianism, such that there shall be "everything within the State, nothing outside the State." To the day when everything not compulsory shall be forbidden. It's practically the whole of their platform.

But we have the Republicans to oppose them, to charge fearlessly onto the political battlefield, banners held high, to ask not nor give quarter, and to smite the Democrats hip and thigh. We can rely upon them to give true coloration to the Democrats' schemes, to unearth unmistakable evidence of their perfidy, and by sheer purity of heart to halt the advance of the Omnipotent State. If we put enough of them in Congress, of course. And one in the White House, of course. And a majority on the Supreme Court. Of course.

There's just one little problem with this rosy scenario: from top to bottom, it's a crock of shit.

Mind you, there are a few Republican officeholders who appear to walk it like they talk it. Just now a great deal of attention is on the pugnaciously outspoken Ted Cruz, the junior United States Senator from Texas. Cruz has dared to beard two fearsome lions in their respective dens: the Democrat majority in the Senate and the so-called Republican "leadership," whose behavior could stand as the definition for cowardly, un-leader-like conduct in high office. Both would like to see him erased from their little world. Indeed, it's unclear which community fears and despises him more.

But Cruz is treated by the Republican Party's strategists as a distraction from the party's one and only sincere agenda: electing Republicans. (They take the same attitude toward the generally like-minded Rand Paul (R, KY) and Mike Lee (R, UT), and for the same reasons.) Cruz's open, fearless combativeness, they say, makes him "controversial," a detriment to "collegiality" and an impediment to "working together"...with the Democrats, that is. Seldom are those kingmakers required to face the question: "Working together on what?"

The point, we must remember, of a political party is to get its candidates elected. If the Republican Party's core leadership -- its cadre of strategists, pollsters, and rainmakers -- is convinced that taking firm, principled stands during campaign season will best serve that agenda, then that's the behavior the party's candidates will exhibit... during campaign season. But if that very same conduct once in office should seem to the leadership to be a detriment to retaining office, or to adding to the party's caucuses, it will be discouraged, principally by the denial of further organizational and material support to him whose behavior it deems "controversial."

How a leadership cadre with such an outlook got established in the GOP is a topic of interest.

Organizations respond to incentives and penalties much as do individual organisms. The systematic application of incentives and penalties to an organization can mold its behavior in an enduring fashion. More, the teacher is often taught by observing the effect of his lessons on his student.

Possibly the seminal event in the re-engineering of the Republican Party was the absolute and total defection of Franklin D. Roosevelt's Administration from the Democrat Party's 1932 campaign platform. Hearken to Garet Garrett on the events in question:

The first three planks of the [1932] Democratic Party platform read as follows:
We advocate:
  1. 1. An immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures by abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus and eliminating extravagance, to accomplish a saving of not less than 25 per cent in the cost of Federal government
  2. "2. Maintenance of the national credit by a Federal budget annually balanced
  3. "3. A sound currency to be maintained at all hazards."

Mr. Roosevelt pledged himself to be bound by this platform as no President had ever before been bound by a party document. All during the campaign he supported it with words that could not possibly be misunderstood.

He said:

"I accuse the present Administration (Hoover's) of being the greatest spending Administration in peace time in all American history—one which piled bureau on bureau, commission on commission, and has failed to anticipate the dire needs or reduced earning power of the people. Bureaus and bureaucrats have been retained at the expense of the taxpayer. . . . We are spending altogether too much money for government services which are neither practical nor necessary. In addition to this, we are attempting too many functions and we need a simplification of what the Federal government is giving to the people."

This he said many times.

Few of the great majority that voted in November, 1932 for less Federal government and fewer Federal functions could have imagined that by the middle of the next year the extensions of government and the multiplication of its functions would have been such as to create serious administrative confusion in Washington, which the President, according to his own words, dealt with in the following manner:

"On July eleventh I constituted the Executive Council for the simple reason that so many new agencies having been created, a weekly meeting with the members of the Cabinet in joint session was imperative....

Mr. Frank C. Walker was appointed as Executive Secretary of the Council."

Fewer still could have believed that if such a thing did happen it would be more than temporary, for the duration of the emergency only; and yet within a year after Mr. Roosevelt had pledged himself, if elected, to make a 25 per cent cut in Federal government by "eliminating functions" and by "abolishing many boards and commissions," he was writing, in a book entitled On Our Way, the following: "In spite of the necessary complexity of the group of organizations whose abbreviated titles have caused some amusement, and through what has seemed to some a mere reaching out for centralized power by the Federal government, there has run a very definite, deep and permanent objective."

Few of the majority that voted in November 1932 for an end of deficit spending and a balanced Federal budget could have believed that the President's second budget message to Congress would shock the financial reason of the country, or that in that same book, On Our Way, he would be writing about it in a blithesome manner, saying:

"The next day, I transmitted the Annual Budget Message to the Congress. It is, of course, filled with figures and accompanied by a huge volume containing in detail all of the proposed appropriations for running the government during the fiscal year beginning July 1,1934 and ending June 30,1935. Although the facts of previous appropriations had all been made public, the country, and I think most of the Congress, did not fully realize the huge sums which would be expended by the government this year and next year; nor did they realize the great amount the Treasury would have to borrow."

And certainly almost no one who voted in November, 1932 for a sound gold standard money according to the [Senator Carter] Glass money plank in the platform could have believed that less than a year later, in a radio address reviewing the extraordinary monetary acts of the New Deal, the President would be saying: "We are thus continuing to move toward a managed currency."

The broken party platform, as an object, had a curious end. Instead of floating away and out of sight as a proper party platform should, it kept coming back with the tide. Once it came so close that the President had to notice it. Then all he did was to turn it over, campaign side down, with the words:

"I was able, conscientiously, to give full assent to this platform and to develop its purpose in campaign speeches. A campaign, however, is apt to partake so much of the character of a debate and the discussion of individual points that the deeper and more permanent philosophy of the whole plan (where one exists) is often lost."

At that the platform sank.

[Garet Garrett, "The Revolution Was"]

Yes, that's a rather long citation. I hope you read it all the way through. FDR and his advisers were determined from the very first to depart totally from the platform on which they'd campaigned. They had a clear objective -- the consolidation of all political power in their hands, possible due to the national sense of crisis and the abdication of Congress from its proper functions -- and they were determined to make their way to it.

The important thing, above all other considerations of that moment in American history, was to persuade the electorate that the New Deal was necessary despite its obvious Constitutional deficiencies. The deliberate inflation of the currency, ultimately reducing the value of the dollar by 40.4%, was one of the key tools the Administration used to provide "evidence" of the New Deal's "success." Add to that the multiplication of federal make-work programs and the manipulation of the agricultural markets to raise the price of farm produce, and the New Dealers contrived to persuade millions that they had the cure for America's economic disease.

A great distance away from the levers of power, the Republicans were watching.

To those who lived through the Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Roosevelt Administrations, the progression must have seemed incredible, massively perverse. The policies of the Harding / Coolidge years were incredibly successful: the quickest, most painless reversal of an economic contraction in American history -- and accomplished entirely by downsizing and restraining the federal government. Hoover's diametrical reversal of those policies, coupled to some incredible blundering by the Federal Reserve and the stock market contraction on October 29, 1929, produced the Great Depression.

It's critical to assert here that the long-lasting miseries that followed would not have occurred except for Hoover's unrelenting interventionism, in defiance of Republican principles. But Hoover, "the Great Engineer," was as disdainful of others' advice as Barack Obama. He'd made a lot of money during his years in business, had successfully operated a huge European relief effort after World War I, and carried himself with such arrogance that even Harding and Coolidge feared to contradict him. In attempting to rehabilitate Hoover's reputation after the Roosevelt years and World War II, portraying him as a champion of free markets and Constitutionally limited government, the GOP made its critical mistake.

There are lots and lots of warnings about the unwisdom of believing your own BS. The Republican leadership cadre, who thought the Democrats had taught them a superior lesson -- something they needed to know to return to power -- failed to heed them.

The postwar decades saw a deepening of the Republican sickness. Eisenhower, though he campaigned as a conservative, presided over policies slightly to the left of center. Nixon, moderately conservative of conviction, proved surprisingly irresolute as a president, standing firm in very little -- mainly foreign policy -- and yielding to interventionists in his Administration and Congress in all else. For all practical purposes, the GOP paraded as the "discount alternative" to the Democrats: "the same policies, but cheaper."

The rise of Ronald Reagan, first as Governor of California and later as President, seemed to herald a Republican return to limited-government principles. It proved illusory. Reagan was largely successful at rebuilding the armed forces, reducing taxes, and operating an assertive foreign policy. He proved unable to restrain the growth of the federal leviathan, which expanded by 13% in personnel and 65% in expenditures over his tenure in the Oval Office. Once again, the GOP's leadership made a terrible mistake in portraying the Reagan years as a paradise of laissez-faire. Objectively, the Eighties continued the trend lines of the previous Administrations almost exactly. The Left capitalized on the GOP's reluctance to present the facts honestly by trumpeting about the "Reagan deficits," which were entirely due to Congressional overspending of swiftly increasing tax revenues, made possible by Reagan Era tax cuts.

Reagan himself was a good man, sincere in his espoused convictions and far more courageous than the majority of his Twentieth-Century predecessors. Yet time after time he let his advisers have their way in opposition to his own policy preferences, deferring to what he saw as their "expertise." Those advisers were nearly all bred-in-the-bone "discount Democrats," who believed that reductions in federal activism and expenditure would cost the GOP its hold on federal power. The consequences are before us: the most successful Republican Administration since Coolidge could not be deemed an overall success. Though it succeeded on the international stage, it failed almost completely in attaining its nominal domestic objectives.

With the Presidents Bush, Older and Younger, the march of the GOP into the don't-rock-the-statist-boat darkness would continue.

Today's Republican Party continues in the pusillanimous tradition of the post-FDR party that couldn't prevent Roosevelt from winning four consecutive terms, that couldn't unseat the badly weakened Harry Truman, that presided over an ever-expanding federal government even when it had majorities in both houses of Congress. Despite the overt adulation showered upon the Gipper, what the GOP's kingmakers would really like is not a Reagan II, but a figure as attractive and eloquent as the Great Communicator who would nevertheless not dare to lay a hand on the tiller of the Ship of State -- that is, who would agree to let the "discount Democrats" rule in his name, that they might continue undisturbed in their power and perquisites.

The parade of candidates since Reagan -- two Bushes, Robert Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney -- should have given the game away. Not one of them was nearly as principled as Reagan about even one issue. All were part of the don't-rock-the-statist-boat Republican Establishment, whose members can't even think of opposing further federal growth or cutting back on Washington's usurped, extra-Constitutional powers without experiencing a sudden, urgent need for a change of underwear. That Establishment remains at the pinnacle of the GOP today, and is working assiduously to neuter the Ted Cruzes, the Mike Lees, and the Rand Pauls before they can upset the apple cart. They'd prefer continued hegemony by the Democrats to that great a perturbation of The Way Things Are.

We have no allies among the political class.

"It's a big club...and you ain't in it." -- George Carlin


Robert What? said...

What happens to most of the right-leaning politicians once they get into office that makes them abandon their principals so quickly? Are they strong-armed by their advisors who threaten to withdraw their support if they don't tow the party line? Do they fall in love with the power and perquisites? Are they and their families physically threatened in some way?

Obviously I have no idea what pressures the Presidency would bring to bear on a person, but I really just don't get it.

agraves said...

Hopefully patriots know the FDR admin was full of communist sympathizers by now and we are here because of it. It is also the reason for our entry into WW11. The time for rebellion has passed us by, now it is time to load up on valium and watch the slow destruction occur. Solutions: Turner Diaries anyone?

T. Paine said...

When Obama made that hateful speech saying 'we are X days away from fundamentally changing the United States....' he was telling us exactly what he was going to do and very few of us were truly listening.
The real challenge facing us now, in June 2014 is how to contain a rampaging administration between now and 2016 with and clueless, paralyzed congress.
Lock and load!

Col. B. Bunny said...

Rose L. Martin in The Last Great Nation on Earth (1978) wrote:

"In the 20th century the United States has produced a strange species, unknown to earlier and sturdier generations of Americans. He may be described as the naive traitor. Apparently he believes sincerely that by betraying his country, or selling it short, he is acting in the best interests of humanity. If in the process she also wins prestige, position and handsome and emoluments, it only serves to strengthen his believe that he is indeed on the side of the angels." p. vii.

But it was more than just naivete. The progressives, socialists, communists, liberals, and utopians of the first part of the last century thought that expertise, good intentions, and a willingness to cast overboard what was viewed as repressive (especially that), antiquated, and superstitious. Anyone who used the words "expert" or "scientific" or "disinterested" was viewed as a natural ally, especially if they shared a disdain for bourgeois tastes and attitudes, those who were willing to live the living hell of "death by station wagon and backyard barbeque," in Fred Siegel's words, I believe.

This is a choice quote, by no means out of the main stream of Fabian thought:

"In THE INTELLIGENT WOMAN'S GUIDE TO SOCIALISM AND CAPITALISM, Shaw proposed that under Socialism 'you would be forcibly fed, clothed, lodged, taught, and employed whether you liked it or not. If it were discovered that you had not character and industry enough to be worth all this trouble, you might possibly be executed in a kindly manner."


Thus, the arrogant belief that utopia could be constructed with the aid of arbitrary, centralized government was joined at the hip not only with an extraordinary moral failure to safeguard liberty and life itself but also with an intellectual failure of Olympian proportions – the failure to grasp the enormous danger to civilized people from abandoning the rule of law at the same time that technology increased the relative power of government in ways not seen throughout history. FM Haig's failure to grasp the significance of the machine gun comes to mind.

As you point out, FDR intended to stand the United States on its head and the reason for his willingness to do so is contained somewhere in what I just wrote.

Free and decent people simply cannot bring themselves to entertain the thought that their leaders are morally bankrupt, intellectually deranged, and hugely arrogant.

Col. B. Bunny said...

On Reagan's ineffectualness, I remembered my joy at his election but it was clear that something was not right when he started to name his closest advisers. James Baker was one and I can't remember the others just now. They seemed to be classic cases of political maneuver consultants who could have as easily worked for Carter or Clinton. The "No there there" experts who stood for nothing but sneered at everything.

The GOP I've known my entire life has been ineffectual at best and actively opposed to the interests of the middle class of this country. W was photographed kissing some Saudi on the lips and holding hands with the same man presumably. Then he came up with the fatuous "compassionate conservatism" and his own personal contribution to the fiscal catastrophe of the federal government in the form of the prescription drug program.

The GOP can be guaranteed to act like the Devil in that great movie "Bedazzled": No matter how tightly the lovelorn Dudley Moore attempted to bind him down with evermore specific wishes, he always, and I mean always, found a way to interpret the wish in a way that completely frustrated the obvious intent of Moore.

Thus, most of the current "front runners" in the race for the GOP nomination look manly and wise but you can count on each one of them to come up with, you guessed it, the magic word "comprehensive" which tells you that without a shadow of a doubt you are screwed, blued and tattooed again. Even Perot, who may well have had the nomination to lose, got weird over something to do with his daughter's wedding. Ok, Ross!! And Trump periodically looks like he's on a red meat diet but then he mistakenly climbs out of the ring.

One commenter on another site said it best. They must drink some kind of narcowater when they get to Capitol Hill.

Anonymous said...

"We have no allies among the political class. "

Today the political class at all levels is compromised, please note that no one is there by mistake. They must be flawed in order that they be controlled. Else wise they are to be vilified or go flying in small planes.

The "two party" system or as I like to call it "Red state/Blue state- I state you state" is a system designed to allow sheeple to vote for their favorite flavor of slavery.

At this time all politics is kabuki cover for tyranny and criminality.

Tim Turner said...

What we know is that a real conservative would be for non-abortion (however one might express that), tight borders, the rule of law (by actively executing the ones we have) and actively nullifying several executive branch mandates (EPA, etc.

Forget government unions, which are on oxymoron, for the first term.

We know Fran's Sumner would oppose Muslims, and enforce law and order. Great.


If Obama was THAT bad, and if Romney - the spiritual guy - was THAT good, then why did he lose?

I'm sure you all have your ideas. Maybe the media, maybe the lack of support of some on the right, maybe that he seemed too establishment.

How about this: While Romney obviously believed in God, "the right to life," and capitalism, he never said it as well as Bill Whittle. He never came out swinging.

What the "right" is becoming - it seems to me - is a minority of "swingers" who will say, "enforce the borders first, THEN talk to us about other plans," or, "Cut spending first, THEN talk to me about paying for more social programs."

Or, "stop the monopoly of health providers who promote regulations to give then free reign to charge fantastic rates, allow interstate insurance, allow free trade of drugs and GET GOVERNMENT OFF OUR BACKS WHEN IT COMES TO OUR LIFE AND HEALTH!"

That's just the tip of the iceberg, but it seems so sensible. And yet, you need to hit and hit and say it AGAIN to get any mention on CNN or even to have the silly cute commentators on FOX repeat it cogently.

Shoot. What we're asking our hopeful leader to do is what we would hate to do: go onto a liberal blog and just tell the truth as we see it.

Imagine going onto, with ALL their beloved experts and verbal champions. You'll post a reasoned argument about immigration, the fetus as a living being, or the negative aspects of WIC, affirmative action or Obamacare.

YOU WILL BE PILLORIED. You will get hundreds of negative responses. Some reasoned. Many coarse and rude. Several totally off the wall.

How do you respond? As Fran has noted, even the reasoned responses will use a logic you may not agree with, so HOW can you respond?

And THAT's the problem a current "Right-wing" candidate has today.

We aren't talking about basic principles. We're talking about supposed effects. We denigrate Rand Paul or Sarah Palin because of 3 things out of 10 that we want that they don't espouse. And all that time, liberals are advocating 9 things out of 10 that we don't want.

ANY POLITICIAN WHO ESPOUSES 6 THINGS OUT OF 10 THAT I WANT GETS MY VOTE. There is so much hatred that will be directed at him, he automatically gets it, just for having the guts to do it.

Get your guns. Lock and load. Write what you can. Fine.

I hope the Sarah Palins, Mitt Romneys, Michelle Bachmanns and others will get louder and more in the face of MSNBC while you guys keep hammering here in cyberspace.

And God bless Nigel Lafarge (notice how Google hides his remarks,) Andrew Klavan, Alphonzo Rachel, Bill Whittle, Michael V, (the Catholic guy,) Fran, Ace, that Gates of Vienna place, Breitbart, and that thingy with the kangaroo.

But I think you've got to start accepting the 6 or 7 out of 10 guy (Rand Paul) and start hitting back at the 2 out of 10 girl (Rachel Maddow) and just keep saying the things you believe.

DAN III said...

The political class exists because our friends, family and fellow countrymen allow it to exist. With long-term incumbency comes unfettered power and arrogance by the incumbents, to do whatever the hell they want. So as the electorate religiously refers to themselves as "republican" or "democrat", nothing will change for the better. As the fools will continually vote for "the lesser of two evils" or the "left wing or the right wing of the same bird" We're screwed.