Wednesday, May 25, 2005

My Friend the Leftist

My Friend the Leftist

Friendship. The word itself is strange, almost campy. What ship is this, that describes a man's relationship with other men? Aside from the ship, what indeed is the meaning of the word friend? An acquaintance? Or does the word imply a deeper bond, and how deep? I suspect that the meaning of friendship is different to each of us, as it can describe anything from the most frivolous acquaintanceship to the deepest pair bond between two men. For many men, a friend is someone with whom we would willingly walk into fire, should attempts at dissuasion fail. I put my own definition of the term up that high. Yet, do we have to agree with the personal philosophy of the man with whom we would walk into disaster?

I have a friend, we can call him Larry, with deeply held, deeply wrong, leftist beliefs. No bleeding heart on this guy, and a clearheaded view toward the racial divide in the country, and the world, as it really is. An entrepreneurial capitalist to boot. Yet this guy insists that America is always wrong. Not as a general rule, but case by case, every single time. He has never met a government program he didn't like, or that he thought was receiving enough money. Indeed, after over a half century roaming this planet, this fellow still thinks that government can be an effective force for positive change. And he sincerely believes that the craven fools who run under the democrat banner are inherently superior to the power mad hacks who self identify as republicans. The few truly committed leaders that emerge from time to time are dismissed as wrongheaded dreamers. To Larry, John Kasich was a fool, probably because he left politics just as his ability to wield power began to affect his thinking. Al Gore was a hero, not a self-serving power-craving sociopath who put his personal ambition above the nation's need to move ahead. Michael Moore produces documentaries, not propaganda with little regard for the truth. Al Franken might just save the world, if only enough people could be forced to listen to him, and Rush Limbaugh is a big fat liar, even though Larry can not cite a single lie he ever told. Larry lives in the Bizarro World, where everything is reversed. Faced with Al Franken's ratings, he decides that Arbitron is a right-wing plot.

If you listen to talk radio, you will be familiar with the name Savage. Michael Savage is a reprehensible character who is difficult to listen to for very long. Very little of what he says is accurate, or makes much sense, but he nails a few ideas right on the head. The most correct thing that he says is that liberalism is a mental disease. That is so clearly true. It is the only explanation for Larry. Indeed, it explains a lot. It is not enough to say merely that lefties feel their politics, since many on the right also feel their own. And even touchy-feely bleeding heart liberals can explain and rationalize their misapprehension of world events. Few do, but some can. So, clearly it has been shown that they have a flaw in their logic circuits. Savage is close enough to the truth when he describes this as a mental disease. Larry is suffering from this mental disease.

So what can be done to alleviate Larry's suffering? He is resident in the intellectual New York City Kool-Aid world, so, since I am the only right-thinker he can get on the phone, he likes nothing better than to call me up and attempt to discuss at me the latest accusation that Maureen Dowd or Paul Krugman have pre-masticated for his circle, and then he will anticipate my reaction. Me being me, however, I seldom answer with the preconceived response, which never sways him from his course. He will respond to whatever he has anticipated, and no demurrer on my part will get him to confront the facts of the case, whatever it is. In his world, American troops routinely practice torture and war crimes, Lt. Calley was never punished for his crimes at My Lai, no CEOs have been, or ever will be, sent to jail for stealing from or lying to the public, and, amazingly, Larry believes that an all-white jury would have acquitted OJ Simpson. In Larry's cracked calculus, Iraq=Vietnam, and wealth is a zero-sum game. Take from the rich and the poor will become richer. This from a guy who licenses biometric patents for a living. This from a guy who used to be a philosophy professor at a prestigious university. And somehow, this guy is still my friend. Go figure.

It seems to me that the best treatment for Larry's disease is to continue taking his calls, and treat his opinions as valid, even as he will not concede the same to mine. Continue pointing out the truth, and insisting on a certain rigor as concerns acceptable sources for facts (Mother Jones, The Utne Reader, and opinion columns are NOT acceptable sources for facts). Keep hoping that he will get better. And pray like crazy that no person like him ever achieves serious political power.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Republicans As Statists

Republicans As Statists

Statism may be too strong a term, so far, but there are ominous portents of a statist future for the Republican party. As Lord Acton warned repeatedly, the greater power a man or a group accretes to itself, the greater will become the use, and abuse, of that power. Today's Republican party, and President Bush, are a living embodiment of that idea, as they seek to award new entitlements and protections to the electorate in pursuit of the expansion of their incumbency and their sinecure.

I am an old style reactionary conservative, a Lincoln republican, with strong libertarian leanings. As late as Nixon's Vice presidency where, in his "Checkers" speech, he declaimed that his wife wore "a respectable Republican cloth coat," the Republicans were the party of the working man, and Republicans were the party that sought to create a smaller and less ambitious government. But today, what with the democrats retreating into the arms of an ever smaller coterie of elitists and leftists, the republicans have become emboldened to seek to extend their power into areas never before considered, and to serve their natural constituency less, as they turn to good old single interest politics. Their "big tent" has become more of a tent city, with the social conservatives, the neocons, and the libcons dwelling in their separate quarters in the republican campsite.

This phenomenon takes on a sinister meaning when we contemplate the inevitability of its continuing nature. Absent some major political cataclysm, the power of the national republicans shall grow in the years to come. Indeed, even if the democrats were not bent upon self-destruction, just the mechanics of electoral incumbency would not allow the left to take over the Senate for a decade. In the House, a sea change in political opinion would still not allow for a change in leadership for four years. And there is no chance of a democrat attaining the White House unless and until the war against us is over, or at least until the electorate feels safe from terror. And, just in case such a change in attitudes were possible, the national democrat party seems intent on making the public feel even less safe, showing no sign of a willingness to reverse course on that item any time soon.

So we find ourselves spiralling into the abyss, with a statist republican party "saving" us from an even more sinister leftism, and no end to it in view any time soon. It might be enough to induce one to consider suspending his blogging, in frustration at the futility of the debate, of the inability of an increasingly small minority in the middle to attract supporters from either side to come to their senses. As those on the right become more and more righteous, and those on the left more shrill and even more divorced from reality, one might consider leaving the debate.

But no. Now is not the time to withdraw from the ebb and flow of ideas. Not the time to retire. It is the time to reinvigorate, reenergize, and double, even treble one's efforts. There are those who have been satisfied to see the lethargy in this space of late, and have speculated that this site might go dark. Banish the thought. Expect the opposite. More, not less. More often. Verbose. Informed. Opinionated. Frequent. Right.