Friday, March 16, 2007

Speaking Wonklish

Mike the Mad Biologist snorts at the rightward idea that there is insufficient wonkishness in Left Blogastan. (And really, he should know.) He quotes Matt Stoller, as do I, because Matt goes to the heart of the issue.

To put it in context, Kevin Drum's column was written prior to the 2006 election, and was something of an "if we win, then what" sort of piece.

Matt Stoller writes about Kevin Drum's plea for more wonkiness in the lefty blogosphere (italics mine):
I'm not going to go into details, but wonkery is at this point counterproductive because the essence of wonkery is an assumption of good faith. If you write a policy in wonk-land, it's assumed it will be carried out, the law will be respected, the money will be appropriated, etc. The Bush administration has broken that basic compact. They lie. All the time. They approach arguments in utter bad faith from the get-go. They abuse the process, everything from budget battles to conference committees. If you approach people like this in good faith, you lose...

Now, I do want things from Congress. And there are great discussions about the policies that we want, from Effect Measure to Boingboing to The Washington Note. But I'm not going to pretend like any of these are feasible without working out the systemic rot that has infected our discourse and political system. I want to see the law be reestablished as law, policy battles return to good faith terrain, and facts established as the basis for policy-making - and then we can discuss policy. [Emphasis Mine - and I wish I could use the blink tag-BK]

So, that is my suggestion for a policy. A general housecleaning. A return to good faith discourse and good faith politics. THEN we can discuss and argue about things that are not immediately obvious necessities to those unblinded by the delusions of the radical Right.

I say "a return," because much of this situation evolved (heh) from the Dominionist Christian efforts to infiltrate the political process, and they are quite expressly trained, advised and counseled to conceal their intentions, which are frankly to turn this nation into a theocracy not unlike that of the Taliban.

How George W. Bush became the head of the new
American Dominionist Church/State
by Katherine Yurica

Most Americans have been aware that religious right
Republicans have become extremely active politically
in the last twenty years. But because we're Americans
and we're mostly tolerant of other people's religious
beliefs, their rise to power hasn't really troubled us.
We should be troubled. There is now overwhelming
evidence that conservative Christians set out to
takeover the government of the United States and impose
their culture and values upon all Americans. This
article is not a theory--it is factual and historic.
The proof is in this essay. Dont miss this one.

Whatever dominionists say for public consumption, the real goal is what drives them. It's a policy that has brought them some success over the last 20 years, though it's unraveling as their actual agendas become obvious. But meanwhile, their tactics have obviously spread throughout the Right Wing, because in some senses, they have become the spiritual advisers to the Right - and because their tactics work.

For a while.

But as P.T. Barnum so famously observed, you can't fool all of the people, all of the time. The problem for the Right is just that - in order to continue all their overt and covert policies, they DO have to fool all of the people, all of the time. Worse yet, they have to start with themselves. This sort of willful suspension of a skeptical review of policy and ideological faith - and the loud derision of facts in evidence is bound to lead to a bruising collision with reality at some point.

In our case, we have Iraq, a president apparently willing to nuke Iran for reasons we can only speculate upon as his justifications are hardly worthy of the name, a looming energy crisis AND global warming, two linked issues that we should have started seriously addressing in the late seventies.

The right-wing "skepticism" about global warming is presented on the same intellectual level and possesses the same degree of intellectual honesty as it's "skepticism" about evolution and the human and environmental impact of - well, pretty much what any large corporate donor wishes to do.

The leaders of the various right wing factions - and there are many, with growing fissures between them - much prefer blind faith to measured and judicious support of their agendas based on skeptical discussion and review. It's a rather seductive proposition, it makes the job of wielding power ever so much easier and it creates a temporary illusion of juggernaut-like effectiveness.

But the problem of faith is that sooner or later that faith must be expressed in works. Faith - in God, in economic theory, in the merits of a military-industrial oligarchy - must bring a pudding to be proven.

And all we have gotten is repeated, rude figgings.

The cure for this starts with impeachment. Then it goes to a general cleansing of the government of "bushies," those who's success has depended more on loyalty and ideological purity than an honest day's work doing something related to their job description.

For instance, Homeland Security should have some relationship to actually securing our homes and our lands. And isn't that OUR job, Constitutionally speaking? Second Amendment? Well-Regulated Militia? (Volenteer fire departments are good examples of "well-regulated militias;" well-equipped and well-trained community members who are the "first responders" to many emergencies.

FEMA should manage emergencies that are too overwhelming for local responders. The Coast Guard should be guarding our coasts. Immigration and Naturalization should be doing things related to managing a coherent, fair and managable immigration policy. The FBI should investigate federal interstate crimes - which include both terrorism and treason. The CIA should centralize foreign intelligence. And we should have a foreign policy that does not make success in these efforts difficult to impossible to achieve.

This is common sense, of course - and since it is common sense, there's still a general reluctance to admit what a very, very poor job these agencies do when they do anything.

The only sane human reaction these days is to hide when a government agent approaches, for there can be no assumption of either good faith or the ability to do anything to make any human situation more bearable.

So let us start at the top, with impeachment. Then let us be rid of both those who are ideological incompetents and those who decided to play politics in preference to doing the right thing. In this I include many elected representatives of all parties who were in a position to know better, and either chose not to or were too focused on politics to remember that politics is a means, not an end in itself.

Let us restock our government with seasoned, apolitical professionals at the senior levels and task them with clearing out the underbrush.

The job of the government - first, last, always - is the regulation of the commons. Our common markets and our common access to them, our common resources, such as air, water, watersheds and green spaces that we all have an individual and equal survival-level interest in, regardless of wealth or position. Our common systems of transportation that make freedom of movement and access to markets more than just a fine-sounding pronouncement. This concept extends to some rather abstract-seeming things - like the broadcast spectrum, access to information, education and space exploration - but these are all things that we, as citizens of this nation, benefit or suffer from as individuals regardless of wealth, power or position.

Besides, even if you can buy access to power, bribe your way into markets denied the common man, it doesn't follow that you should have to, or that these "protected" markets are therefore superior in any way. Indeed, you've likely bought access to the shark pond, chum.

I have seen this situation coming since 1980. I've seen the promises, and I've seen the reality. This is a poorer nation than it was then, poorer intellectually, poorer financially, poorer spiritually and poorer in every other way relating to the graces and benefits of a civil and civilized society.

This nation has become greedy, mean-spirited, intolerant and - not to put too fine a point on it - stupefied.

The only policy that can be discussed is to rid ourselves of those who created those conditions and replace their policies with those that have been demonstrated to work in civilized nations, in accordance with our Constitution and with regard to it's enlightened intent of maximizing individual liberty.

I believe that a faith in things that work is the essence of Conservatism, and so I appeal to Congress; impeach. Impeach the President now. You are either with those of us who wish to live again in a decent, civilized nation that is well regarded by the world - or you are on the losing side, and the rest of us will be well-rid of you.

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