Friday, May 05, 2006

Conservatives: Endangered Species...
We are rapidly approaching the national farce that has been politely and generously named "the Mid-Term elections". This is the time, in the middle of a President's term of office, in which the people vote for their representatives in those hallmarks of American Democracy: the House of Representatives and the Senate.

If you are a conservative, you are quaking in your shoes. And you should be. You look at the blasted landscape which is all that remains of the "Regan Revolution", which propelled your ideology from "the Old Fuddy-Duddies Wish List" to "mainstream American Politics", and wonder just where it all went wrong. Unless you're Trent Lott, and can pretend the problem doesn't exist. Politics, you know, is the domain of the anointed. Us peasants may have opinions but they don't amount to squat when compared to the wisdom of the Conservative elite. Especially when it comes to how money gets spent.

You wonder where it all seemed to jump the tracks. Unless you're Tom DeLay and the (alleged) abuse of power and federal campaign finance laws flouted in an attempt to create a Conservative majority within your state is not a transgression punishable by law, but your God-given DUTY, dammit!

You feel somewhat strange, having to do contradictory things just to stay in power. Unless you're John McCain and you have the ability to pass a series of laws bordering on the restoration of the old "Seditious Libel"regime, or when you complain about the cost to your state of taking care of illegal aliens in small-town border hospitals, and the rising crime rates and social dislocation associated with illegal immigration, and then campaign with all your might to pass amnesty for the same illegal aliens.

I used to think I was a conservative. Well, at least I held some conservative views. I've recently began to discover that I was grossly wrong. Not because Conservatism, as an ideology, is flawed in any fundamental way (and let's admit that it does have some flaws), but because many of the Conservatives who proudly proclaim themselves as such are one of the following (and very often, both): crazy and/or liars. The more I think about it, the more I begin to see myself more as a republican with a few conservative viewpoints, and an awful lot of frustration.

Now, as to mental illness and lying.

Peruse many of the Conservative websites these days and you'll find an awful lot of the following: name calling, expectation of lock-step allegiance, castigation of an individual who might otherwise agree with you 99% of the time for having an opinion which differs from "conventional wisdom", religious bigotry. You'll find an awful lot of people who claim to "know the Constitution inside and out" and who somehow manage to infer that it simultaneously says things that it doesn't, or not say something that it does.

You will find a fixation with the minutiae of daily life that very often doesn't even touch upon politics (or should) in any rational sense. Most of these fixations revolve around social issues, not legal or legislative, and personal finance (pocketbook issues) and on which the Constitution is obviously silent for practical reasons. These fixations are anchored by four issues; the Three G's (God, Guns and Gays) and Abortion. Mention any of the above, like to say they really have very little place in political debate, and watch how soon you get labeled a "Rockefeller Rebublican", a RINO (Republican in Name Only), a closet leftist, fascist, queer-lover, Baby-killer, and a whole lot worse.

This is the crazy part. The lying part is even worse.

There was, we were told, a major shift in the country's political leanings which manifested itself nearly six years ago. The voters of this country were trending more and more conservative, and had done George W. Bush the ultimate good deed of ceding control via elections to the Republican party, in particular, the Conservative elements within the Republican party. These Conservatives, in no particular order, are the visible faces of the Republican Congress. They are Trent Lott, Tom DeLay (currently out of politics and facing indictment), Bill Frist, John McCain,
Mitch McConnell, and a few you've never heard of. The Conservatives, now with full control of the apparatus of government, and a war on terror to fight, would soon correct the list to port(i.e. the damage done by Eight years of All-Clintons-all-the-time) that threatened to sink the Good Ship United States.

This would involve, in no particular order: a balanced budget, a beginning on the elimination of the Federal Deficit, a solid energy policy that would break American dependence on foreign oil imports, national security against terrorism, entitlement program reform, Campaign Finance Reform, Tax Reform, National Ballistic Missile Defense, a reversal of Roe v. Wade and a more responsible and conservative Supreme Court, among other issues.

And what did we get? We haven't exactly "balanced the budget", but we have "arrested it's growth", which are code words for "that customary 10% yearly increase in funding the Department of Marshmallow Easter Bunnies used to get is, instead, reduced to 9%, and next year, 8.5%, beyond what they actually need to fufill their overall mission, which is ensuring that every Christian child in the country gets the maximum number of pagan-inspired sugar bombs on the day in which we celebrate the Resurrection fo the Savior. So much for balanced budgets.
By the way, there has not been one appropriation which has been threatened by a Presidential Veto since GW Bush took office. Not a solitary one. He lost the pen, apparently, except when public pressure threatens to stop a ports deal with an Arab country dead in it's tracks. That's when he recalls that he has the power of the veto; to override public opinion.

We then use the (mostly) imaginary savings from "arresting the growth" and pour it into a host of other federal programs and prjects, prime amongst them those that fall into the category of "Compassionate Conservatism", which is actually code for "socialism, but because it was advanced by a Conservative, is not supposed to be called socialism". So much for the Federal Deficit. Not only are the "Conservatives" spending the money they "saved" by "arresting the growth of federal spending", they're borrowing more in order to advance more of the same. It wasn't too long ago that Congress, led by the Conservative majority (of course) voted itself the right to increase the federal borrowing caps (imposed by many of the same Congresscritters! Go figure!) to NINE TRILLION DOLLARS.

Energy policy? Well, we did have one. It involved drilling for more oil domestically, but had very little in the way of finding an alternative to oil once and for all, except for a few blurbs about nuclear power, a few subsidies for more ethanol research (that ethanol subsidy has been in place since the 1970's, by the way. Have to make sure American corn farmers get welfare too, you know), and the quest for the ever elusive "hydrogen-powered engine". In the meantime, the federal government mandates "specialty blend" gasolines (more than 20 different types) brewed for particular regions of the country in order to control smog, without allowing for the construction of new refineries. The result: when oil prices are at all time highs, and American refineries are operating at near 100% capacity foir nearly a decade now, gasoline costs $3.00-plus per gallon and we're assured that supplies are plentiful. Well, if they're plentiful, then why does it cost $50 to fill my tank every three or four days?

The US Army now occupies Iraq,which many on the political left maintain was invaded only so that we could steal Iraqi oil for Dick Cheney's friends at Haliburton, and gasoline prices rise faster than an exotic dancer on a pogo stick with a raging yeast infection. Just where is all this free oil we're supposedly stealing? Why is it that Americans, spoiled bastards that we very often are, get incensed over $3 gasoline, but but don't care a tinker's cuss about $4 milk? The plan was, as is now obvious: more of the same, but with an honorable mention for what was considered a "liberal" plan of the past.

Our National Security needs were apparently taken care of when the Congress created, and then approved, the Department of Homeland Security, which is really the conglomeration of 50 or so formerly-nominally-independant government agencies without a corresponding Cabinet Member, into a monstrosity that now has one. It is a Goliath that now includes the CIA, FBI, FEMA, ICE (New acronym for what used to be Immigration and Naturalization Service), the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Adminsitration (i.e. high-school drop outs at the airport who originally brought you 9/11, only now they're unionized and federalized), and a host of others. And which does not work.

So, when the biggest hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast in a century drowns New Orleans, FEMA can't do what it needs to because it's been distracted by it's Terrorism responsibilities and underfunded, and can no longer operate unless it gets an order form the Secrectary or the President, but in which the ultimate authority for disaster recovery belongs to the individual STATES, not the Federal government. DHS allows American ports to be bought or licensed to Arab nations in an age of Islamic terrorism without notifying the American public, or even the President, but insists that all the "necessary security reviews" (the results of which are never made public because of --- you guessed it --- security concerns) were done.

DHS is not a security apparatus; it is the result of a redrawing of the org chart. A sad testament to the extent to which American business has infected American government (when in doubt, make someone else responsible, anybody, and draw me a new Org chart!). This is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

We're promised entitlement reform of programs that are slowly bankrupting the American people and which will entail enormous amounts of money to fund to the exclusion of just about all other federal spending. Specifically, we were promised Social Security and Medicare Reform, and with a Conservative Congress, either should have been a slam dunk. Instead, we got the same dysfunctional Social Security system that will be with us forever (and in our wallets forever) and a NEW Medicare entitlement, known as Plan D. Both stand for "bribe the remnants of the Greatest Generation and those soon-to-be-whining-pains-in-the-ass-we-call-the-Baby Boomers, with a continuation of the gravy train, and free medication, too boot. Oh, and by the way, it will cost us another trillion dollars. And neither does anything to "arrest the growth" (there's that phrase again) of either program in terms of the ever-increasing percentage of the Federal budget they consume.

Campaign Finance Reform? More like the biggest, open assault on Free Speech in the Country's History which instead of "getting the special interests out of politics" has turned politics into a game ONLY the "special interests" can play, and a tenure-for-life proposition for politicians.

Tax Reform? The IRS is still with us. There has been no alternative to the "Progressive" Income Tax after six years of control. We've had federal tax cuts (which are quickly erased by state and local tax INCREASES), but no "reform" whatsoever. Reform, in my dictionary, means fixing that which does not work any longer. Reform in Conservative circles now apparently means "keep cutting my taxes and see if I care if the tax system is flawed, unfair and inherently criminal".

As for the rest: there is no NMD (National Missile Defense) in anything but name, even if the sites have been built or are still under construction. Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land and the abortionists have NOT been frog-marched to the ovens yet (like every good conservative wants them to be). The Supreme Court is now packed with people we believe to be Conservative fellow-travelers, but that notion has not been tested yet. This, incidentally, is the only "victory" that Conservatives can point to; they finally packed the court in their favor and can now enjoy the extra-Constitutional practice of creating federal law from the bench that once was the private domain of the democrats and their hanger's-on. The first "extra-Constitutional" victim will be Roe, but as far as a Consewrvative is concerned, since it was the creation of an extra-Constitutional ursurpation of Congress' authority, it can ONLY be slain by an extra-Constitutional usurpation of Congress' authority. Two wrongs, apparently, make a right. God forbid the republican party do something constructive, like fight like hell to get a common anti-abortion bill on the ballot in all fifty states or pass a law in the hallowed halls of Congress. We can, apparently, get a bill to prevent a feeding tube being removed from a comatose woman in a vegetative state in a few hours, but six years results in no action taken to protect the unborn.

This is the Right-to-Life party, right? How about a little consistency? If Terri Schiavo can get a law passed yesterday, why can't you can't you get a law outlawing abortion? How about you give the American public a chance to vote it up or down, and then live with the results, one way or another? The reasons: Terri Schiavo drew television coverage that could present Right-to-Life conservatives in a favorable light to their minions. The passage of a law in Congress to outlaw abortion is too risky (you could lose the vote, and then elections). Fighting for Terri was a no-brainer.

Conservatism used to stand for something. It used to mean that the grownups were supposed to take over one day and right some of the fundamental wrongs in American society caused by nearly a century of democratic/socialist control. It has done none of that. It has co-opted socialism wherever convenient in order to bribe voters rather than stand on it's own pillars of personal responsibility and responsible, unobtrusive government. It now includes something called "No Child Left Behind Act" which pretends to eductae every last rugrat in the country, a "Patriot Act" which removes a whole mess of legal protections in the name of stopping terrorism, and taking your shoes off when you arrive at the airport. It has advanced the "Spoils of War" system of political patronage and spending of federal funds that it has accused their opposite numbers of engaging in for decades, but which it now considers it a virtue when applied to it's own patrons and sycophants. It is deaf to the voice of public opinion. It is content to allow an invasion of millions of foreigners across our borders while it screams about it's dedication to security and flashes it's law-and-order credentials, while actively seeking to REWARD them for their lawlessness and taking advantage of the American social spending network in order to keep the price of lettuce, a hotel room or beautifully-manicured lawn care low.

Apparently, I've been mistaken all this time.

If this is what Conservatism has become, the refuge for those as religiously insane as any Iranian Ayatollah, as flagrantly irresponsible as your teenage son with the heroin habit behind the wheel of your new Ferrari, as profligate with money as a drunken sailor on shore leave, as politically tone-deaf as the proverbial post, then it deserves to die a nasty death.

If THIS is Conservatism, I've had all the Conservatism I can stand, thank you.

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