Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Collectivists accuse opponents of what they themselves perpetrate

August 10, 2009

Back during the Cold War I was often struck by how many times the Evil Empire would accuse the U.S. and the West of doing things that were in fact SOP for the communists themselves, such as rigging elections, quashing dissent, manipulating statistics, etc. Actually these things are characteristic of government itself, but in the open societies of the west attempts to perptetrate them rarely escape public exposure and retribution, while in police states they are business as usual. 

So now we have the spectacle of the President, Democrats, the left and their tools in the mainstream media accusing the right of whomping up bought-and-paid-for opposition to a government run health care system. Here’s “hack columnist” Bill Press (Reason Hit & Run’s characterization) on the current opposition to ObamaCare:

Taking a page right out of a Nazi playbook, organizers bus in professional protestors and arm them with instructions on how to take over meetings, shut down discussion, shout over any pro-health care reform speakers, and then post video of the resulting chaos on YouTube. It’s mob rule, pure and simple. Taking a page right out of a Nazi playbook, organizers bus in professional protestors and arm them with instructions on how to take over meetings, shut down discussion, shout over any pro-health care reform speakers, and then post video of the resulting chaos on YouTube. It’s mob rule, pure and simple.

Gosh, all that sounds so much like every right-of-center speaker on a college campus in the past 25 years getting shouted down for daring to voice dissent on minority preferences, global warming, socialism, etc. How many times have we seen “bussed in” protestors on the Capitol lawn in Lansing when the issue was pay or benefit cuts for government workers, accepting a $200 million charter school grant for Detroit, placing a anti-minority preferences ballot initiative that had received 500,000 petition signatures on the ballot, reducing state higher education appropriations, and many more?

Just as the governments in the open societies of the west could (rarely) get away with secretly using police state political tactics in the either the Cold War or present era, so the right is completely incapable of mounting “astroturf” and “hire-a-mob” tactics in this health care debate without the story quickly being exposed on page one of the Washington Post and NYT. People intuitively know that claims to the contrary are laughable, which might explain why the President and his allies are getting a black eye for suggesting it.

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Why Republicans Lost

November 5, 2008

From the twilight of GOP control of the Michigan House in 2006, photo of what made the Republican caucus communications department most proud:

im0017742No hint of the party of Reagan and limited government here.

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PS. The very idea of tax-funded caucus campaign organizations within the legislature demonstrates by itself just how far we’ve traveled from the vision of limited, representative government.

Michigan’s Political Establishments Are Parasites Draining Enervated Hosts

October 27, 2008

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This weekend I was visiting in one of those older blue collar communities in Wayne County containing row upon row of small  homes that used to be neat and well kept. They still are – the ones that are still occupied, that is. On some blocks 10 percent of the houses are vacant, and some of these are starting to molder. The process appears to be accelerating – many of the empty houses are recently vacated; ubiquitous “for sale” signs look like forlorn hopes, especially for those structures that nature has begun to reclaim

 

In those neighborhoods you can buy decent houses for less than $30,000 – but no one’s buying.

 

Why not?

 

Yes, the area’s primary industry – domestic automakers and their suppliers – is in a severe decline, perhaps a death spiral (and largely brought down by regulatory burdens inflicted by state and federal political establishments). But with so many decent little houses available for so cheap why wouldn’t other employers want to take advantage of an opportunity to house their own work force at such a bargain rate?

 

This is the physical side of a political/economic phenomenon I’ve called “Detroitification,” which is the hollowing out of the private economy to prop up the unsustainable perks and privileges of the government establishment. At both the state and local levels, inbred, self-serving political establishments don’t view their role as serving the needs of citizens and businesses, but vice-versa. To them, the people and the private sector exist to serve the government.

 

The political establishment at the state level likes to blame Michigan’s decline on the woes of the big three automakers, but this begs the question of why almost none of the dozens of non-big three U.S. auto plants that have opened in over the past 20 years have located in Michigan. Or why the state didn’t get a proportional share of all the new non-auto jobs that were created this decade.

 

The answer to those questions also explains what I witnessed this weekend: No employer will locate in a state or community whose political/government establishment views them as “new meat” to be fed on until it dies.

 

So why don’t the people in these communities (and this state) change this? Sadly, they’ve been lied to for so long, and the local political game has been so rigged, that change becomes all but impossible. Individuals who have get-up-and-go, do so – to Texas, Alabama or some other place with opportunity. The alienated remainder becomes passive, lethargic and resigned. Or, they exhibit the symptoms described by Chester Finn in a recent article about Ohio, beset by the same dysfunctions:

 

“In both the public and private sectors, what one witnesses are the most senior employees clinging to what’s left of the economy, fending off change, demanding ever more burdensome contracts and costlier benefits. The ship is slowly sinking, but as the more agile passengers and crew take to the lifeboats and sail off, those who remain on board climb to the upper decks, determined to grab whatever plunder they can, confident that the rising waters won’t reach them.”

 

More graphically, public officials, public employee unions and industrial unions become like parasites sucking ever more of the lifeblood from a dwindling pool of increasingly enervated hosts.

 

Here’s the fundamental issue that underlies these dysfunctions at the local, state and federal levels: Representative government has been largely supplanted by the rule of an inbred, self-serving, self-perpetuating political class that has escaped the people’s control.

 

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Update: In today’s WSJ Arthur Laffer describes the effects of related phenomena on the national stage, “The age of prosperity is over.”

Not a Dime’s Worth of Difference Who’s on State Ed Board

October 24, 2008

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Tim Skubick opines this week that the system for selecting state Board of Education members is seriously broken because, “The vast majority of Michigan voters don’t have the foggiest notion as to who the nominees are.” He’s right that voters don’t know their names, but that doesn’t mean voters don’t know anything about them. These elections are partisan, so candidates all have an “R,” “D,” “L,” “G” or whatever after their name.

 

Unless you believe that candidates who are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens etc. don’t tend to differ on their philosophy of education, then that party label can provide important and useful information to voters. Of course sometimes there really isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties, especially when candidates are catering to a self-serving government school establishment (the Blob) as these ones often do. Still, one can discern differences in the focus and behavior of state Board members based on their partisan affiliation.

 

Here’s the more important fact about this state Board of Education, however: It’s almost completely irrelevant. Except for a much greater quantity of bureaucratese spoken at its marathon meetings, Board discussions often have no more relationship to real world outcomes than do the passionate debates at Libertarian or Green Party conventions over platform minutiae.

 

However, these state Board of Education elections do serve one useful purpose, along with the constitutionally-mandated elections for regents at the UM, MSU and Wayne State: Since voters don’t know the candidates, they vote almost purely on party lines, and it’s on these vote totals that  pundits, political pros and political scientists base their estimates of party base percentages in precincts and legislative districts around the state. 

Political Intemperance and “Malignant Narcissism”

October 10, 2008

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Today Dr. Sanity explains different political traits and dispositions through the lens of “necessary (healthy) narcissism” vs. various manifestations of “malignant narcissism.” Among other things she notes this:

 

Each side sees the other as the extreme expression of the opposite pole of the self, thus leading to the polarizing stereotypes that left and right political sides attack each other with. The extreme left (idealized other) sees all members of the right as sociopaths out to get whatever they can from the world at the expense of others; while the right sees all members of the left as the collective mob whose goal is to erase individuality and freedom. But the truth is that at the extreme left AND the extreme right there is a striking convergence of malignancy, grandiosity and totalitarianism.

 

One doesn’t have to look far to find evidence of the intemperance this has wrought in our political culture. Here’s one today from a leftie blog:

 

“There was never any doubt the Republicans would play dirty when they needed to, but I’m sorry to say they have surpassed even their own depraved standards of conduct . . .”

 

And also today from a rightie blog:

 

“ . . . what seems to be the standard for the Democrat party – if they don’t have a good message, they lie.”

 

Now I don’t really think that the authors of these blogs are “malignantly narcissistic.” They didn’t invent this style of political discourse, and unless one’s consciousness has been raised one tends to view it as the norm and just do it out of habit.

 

Neither side does themselves any favors by using this style, however. I remember back in the 1990s most Michigan GOP attack ads couldn’t get past the first sentence without accusing the opposing candidate of being “too liberal,” and Dem ads did the same with the words “too extreme.” I said to colleagues then that the instant most people heard either word in an ad they tuned out to such an extent that the sound might as well have been turned off and the words “nothing to see here – just the usual yadda yadda” started scrolling across the screen. There may be different buzzwords today but the effect is the same.