Thursday, October 14, 2004

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2004 12:03 PM
Subject: RE: To underscore my point

I could not disagree with you more. You are holding your nose while you vote for John Kerry -- why? Because he's a politician?

It is the right who, after losing the popular vote, have governed like the country consists of Republicans; as if the Democrats were the Greens or the Communists. And since Clinton was elected, they have proven again and again that what they want is power at any cost, that principles exist only to be broken, and that given the choice to win at the expense of the country or the constitution, they wouldn't think twice. It is clear that in the hands of Cheney, Scalia, DeLay, Perle, Rumsfeld, and the rest, that their fiscal as well as their social conservativism are nothing but Straussian Noble Lies to keep the masses in line. Unfortunately, it is not only working with the masses. Don't look to Augustine or Calvin for these people's true motivating philosophy. Look to Nixon and Machiavelli.

George W. Bush's great accomplishment, much to my chagrin, has been to convert people like me who would like to be centrists, into liberals. To make it almost plausible that the government was complicit in the September 11th attacks. To divide the country ideologically has been their explicit strategy since Goldwater. And they are very good at it. Thus the gay-bashing amendment. Thus the flag-burning amendment. In fact, I would go so far as to say, thus the invasion of Iraq. Invading and occupying an irrelevant country -- what policy could be better designed to divide this country in half, and to give George Bush the larger half? It is not the bloggers who have divided this country. It is the politicians on whom the bloggers are reporting.

You are acting just like the newspaper reporters are. You want to have a balanced view, when the two sides are not remotely balanced. If Kerry stretches the number of tax cuts he voted for in response to Bush successfully and with impunity libeling Kerry for six months and to the tune of half a billion dollars worth of TV ads, not to mention deliberately taking the country to war on false grounds, lying to Congress, the public, the UN, to our allies, and to the think that that is cause for concern about John Kerry? I don't. About a month ago, John Kerry was losing this race. And he was losing it because of the success of the right-wing smear machine. His fortunes reversed after the first debate because the people who watched it were expecting the good-for-nothing liar that had been depicted by the RNC and the ads. The person who showed up for the debates had no resemblance to John Kerry the serial flip-flopper that they knew and hated.

People still don't trust John Kerry. But not because of his record, which nobody knows; it's because of the Swift Boat liars. I'm glad that they're not on my side. There is now a very clear difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. The difference is that the Democrat fanatics are throwing bricks through the windows of Starbuck's, while the Republican fanatics are crafting policy. I doubt that there is any number of pointless wars, innocent casualties or ruined lives that would give them pause. I do not think that that is true of John Kerry.

It is stupid for liberals to prate on about Bush's lack of intelligence -- we are merely falling for his John Wayne act -- but that's a tactical issue, not a philosophical one.

Something about this race makes me very pessimistic. Forty years ago, Kennedy had to explicitly say that electing a Catholic didn't mean that the US would cede sovereignty to the Pope. Today, fundamentalist Catholics are trying to get the Catholic church to condemn John Kerry because he doesn't plan to impose on US citizens Catholic doctrine opposing abortion. This is the opposite of progress.


-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2004 10:44 AM
Subject: To underscore my point

According to a nonpartisan expert on the Diane Rhem Show this morning, Kerry stretched the truth quite a bit on social security, namely that he would not touch it. It looks like it will have to be monkeyed with at least some. Is this not a cause for concern in your book? I am not going to defend anything Bush said or lied about last night -- that is not my point. I am just talking about politicians and how they all lie and spin. We pick our liars based on what we think is better in the platform. But for someone such as Jane Smiley to say that a vote for Bush is a vote for tyranny is needlessly divisive. The whole trouble comes from the starting point -- philosophically. Ideologically. Smiley would be right if all Americans shared the same ideology. But they don't. Some are with Augustine/Calvin and some are with Rousseau/Dewey. Therein lies the rub.

In such a context Amy Tan's comment that she is voting for Kerry because he and she both have brains amounts to painful naivete in my book. The trouble with liberals is that they are not at all liberal. They think it is tyranny for a president to do what the Constitution gives him the power to do -- if he is conservative. Smiley calls it tyranny when Bush appoints conservative judges. Are we now going to declare these appointments unconstitutionally conservative? Just as Chirac frets that the religious Turks won't fit in with secular Europeans, we wonder if Amy Tan would prefer that all of the stupid conservatives of America move to Turkey.

As Stanley Fish pointed out some years ago in a essay he wrote for Criticism (winter 97?), describing what he called "boutique multiculturalists," many liberals are fine celebrating differences so long as it doesn't come around to serious differences of ideology. In other words, we will take your spicy food but not your thinking about women or abortion, or the death penalty. We love all your quaint dances and ceremonies but when you want to call homosexuality a sin -- pack your bags and get out of town, you brainless fool.

Now, I do not approve of conservatives on the Supreme Court. A six three court probably would have upheld that sodomy law in Texas last year. That would have set us back twenty or thirty years on civil rights for gays. I also don't think Roe should be overturned -- it would not lead to the outlaw of abortions even if it did. But it would be disasterous, nonetheless. But does this mean that I think that it is unlawful or a betrayal of democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution for a Republican president to appoint conservative judges? Absolutely not. The reverse would mean that a democracy is a place only for liberals. It would mean that on very tough human issues there is no possibility for disagreement. And this to me looks like a sort of tyranny. This to me seems like a very irrational place -- a place ruled by the instinctive reaction of those with "brains." For if it were a place governed by reason there would need to be debate and logical arguments and the use of human judgment -- which cannot only be wrong, it must be allowed to disagree about the meaning of the starting points, the first assumptions that we make by faith whenever we look at arguments and evidence.

So I am voting for Kerry. There are too many things that Bush has failed on. The environment for another. But this does not mean that I think all of those who disagree with me are undemocratic and contributing to tyranny.

Until we get rid of blogger black and whites this country will never be able to come together and make progress on real social ills and problems. And one measure of our current dividedness is the smugness of our "intellectuals" for whom name-calling and hyperbole are a matter of course. Whether it is brainlessness, tyranny or a call for another American Revolution (Russell Banks), our intellectuals show themselves to be quick to forfeit the civility and humility of reasoned argument.



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