It's funny...the semantic environment in this country (on teevee, anyway) has been moved so far into lockstep with the Texas Taliban that you really do begin to wonder whether it's you who've changed, rather than the range of allowable discussion. I mean, am I just getting old and returning to some fantasy of my idealistic youth?...or did there in fact used to be a conservatism in this country that you could respect? As it happens, there did -- as confirmed for me during the California gubernatorial recall debates by Tom McClintock, and more recently a couple of weeks back thanks to PBS's "McLaughlin Group," where it's alive and well (though virtually ignored, of course). You may recall my suggesting that real conservatives (let alone libertarians) are getting a bad name thanks to our current bunch. Turns out they're well aware of it, and more than willing to say so, given the chance.
For those too young to recall, conservatism used to be about small government, individual liberty, states' rights, fiscal responsibility, intelligent management of the American empire, and the like. Libertarianism went even further, distrusting not only federal interventionism, but all attempts by government to meddle in social relations. Long time, no see, hunh?
So here we are watching "McLaughlin"...and there are the heavily conservative, pro-business commentators saying the very things I've been wishing somebody would bring up for the past three years and change. In a brief, well-managed half hour of television, they noted several crucial points. To cite just three:
1. The current administration has been systematically destroying the American empire: bankrupting the U.S., putting it into debt to foreign creditors for generations to come, overcommitting its military resources in the entirely wrong places, and (incidentally) losing the war against Islamic fanaticism (e.g., recruiting thousands of new anti-American terrorists by appearing to confirm the terrorists' most paranoid claims about our intentions: that we're out not only to control the world's resources (duh), but to impose the wackiest forms of Christianity on everyone (oops)...not to mention providing said terrorists both a brand-new free zone to operate in, and 140,000 American troops to use as their private shooting gallery, in that lovely project, the "New Iraq").
2. Beyond that, the current administration has been systematically destroying American business around the world, leading to the hugest boycotts of American goods and services that anyone can recall.
3. The most obvious result of the current foreign policy has been to hand the entire middle east to Iranian religious fanatics, placing both American interests and, incidentally, the state of Israel, in profound peril. Since this was completely predictable -- and widely predicted -- in advance, you have to wonder what the hell the administration's real motives were in the first place: to wonder whether the Wolfowitzian defense-of-Israel thing was ever a genuine part of their plan, whatever he and his allies thought they were doing. (Lefties tend, btw, to be predicting a war with Iran itself next, but I'll believe it when I see it: "axis-of-evil" rhetoric aside, near as I can tell the Shrubbistas have been best buds with Iran for a very long time. If they do invade Iran, Wolfowitz may get his way (though God help the rest of us)...but if, say, Syria is next, strengthening Iran even further, I suspect even the most gullible among would-be Israel supporters may begin to realize they've been had. For the record, you may notice that it's Syria, not Iran, looking at U.S. sanctions at the moment.)
Given, then, that this administration has failed (if that's the word) at virtually everything it purports to be doing for U.S. interests, why (McLaughlin asked) is anybody in the establishment giving them a dime? Two reasons (they suggested): (a) business has never seen such a naked giveaway of tax dollars and abandonment of consumer and environmental protections, and (b) these guys are in one-party control of the country, and very crazy...so you don't want to piss them off. Period.
Unless (as seems increasingly likely) they plan to move to outright martial law, I believe this bunch to be destroying both the Republican Party, and conservatism generally -- on the other end of this you could see pressure for a "populist" socialism that'll make your hair curl. Even if they do move to martial law, I believe they're rapidly ensuring the suicide of American power in the world. I hope and pray that isn't their intention...and that in any case, come next January 20th they won't be in a position to carry it out. (Well, any longer, that is. What they've already done will take a generation to correct, if we're lucky.)
Anyway, if you were wondering why Kerry's first choice for a veep was John McCain, that's why: the American establishment is (and most particularly its foreign policy, military, and intelligence professionals are) trying to use the Democratic Party to take the nation back from this bunch of wild-eyed social engineers. Given the choices, OMG I hope they succeed, come November.
"Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Unless you're a big fan of Osama and the boys, the EU and China, or Iranian mullahs, can I get a Hell, No? :/
93 93/93 -- AJ
P.S. to Second Amendment fans: I don't have any guns, or any other weapons, but I oppose nearly all forms of gun control. Despite what they're telling you at the moment -- and remember, these guys are always busy saying (and even appearing to do) one thing while planning another -- do you really think the current bunch are gonna take away all your other rights, but leave your guns alone?