[sociate] Zell and the Brutelligentsia

  • From: "Jerry Michalski" <jerry@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Sociate News" <sociate@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2004 17:01:02 -0400

If the Left is supposed to represent the
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligentsia> intelligentsia, the right has
turned into the brutelligentsia. They're really smart, but they're ruthless.
Left their ruth back in their childhood somewhere. Now they're on the
warpath, and no tactic seems too low. 

Zell Miller's speech, even though the Repubs are backing away from it
quickly, said it all. You have to imagine they vetted the content, but
whoever approved the text probably couldn't imagine the venom with which he
delivered it. The saddest part was watching the delegates, who cheered and
got energized by his bile. Zell certainly did set a tone, and Cheney wasted
no time building it, though with a grandfatherly air, not the hiss and
spit(balls) that Zell used. 

I can empathize with the Conservatives. They're in a tough spot. If they
lose this election, many of their achievements will be sent tumbling. For

They have completely reoriented US foreign policy -- preemptive strikes,
anyone? -- alienating friendly nations (on purpose; Bush doesn't really want
a powerful Europe) and undermining the UN (if it were actually functional,
we couldn't play global cop with a free hand; if the UN worked, we would no
longer be the dominant superpower). And W is the guy -- the only guy (well,
besides Rumsfeld, Rove, etc.) -- who gets to decide whom to preempt. Put
yourself in the shoes of any foreigner for a sec. Doesn't it give you the
slightest willies?

Notice I didn't even mention domestic policy, an exercise I leave to the

They have uncloaked. Between the  <http://www.newamericancentury.org/>
Project for a New American Century, all this press about the Neocons and the
many personal conversations all of us have had since 9/11, in person and
online, we now know who is Conservative and who isn't. I've heard many
Libertarians espouse essentially the Conservative line, so I'm no longer
sure what the difference is. But we know who you are. Lucky thing we're not
generally vengeful.

Speaking of vengeful, the Right has done an excellent job shoving the
Democrats aside. Between whipping legislation to the floor before anyone can
read it, excluding Dems from committee meetings and important debates,
foreclosing debate and stifling dissent (my early favorite: Trent Lott's
statement of  <http://www.neusysinc.com/columnarchive/colm0169.html> 3/1/02
saying: "How dare Senator Daschle criticize President Bush while we are
fighting our war on terrorism, especially when we have troops in the field?
He should not be trying to divide our country while we are united." Wow.
Execrable.) People like Daschle and  <http://byrd.senate.gov/> Byrd are too
gentlemanly to survive an all-out assault by people like
<http://www.anncoulter.blogspot.com/> Anne
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Coulter> Coulter (
Treason?!?) and  <http://tomdelay.house.gov/> Tom
<http://www.takingontomdelay.com/> DeLay (can you say, gerrymandering?). 

Perhaps most poignant of all, Conservatives don't see any alternatives to
their current strategy. This is do or die for them. 

I don't think it's necessarily that they all believe that Might Makes Right
(making war to bring freedom; yeah!), but rather that all their vested
interests, economic and political, rest on one another in a delicate house
of cards. 

They see no second path. They've lost the world's goodwill (oh, to be back
to Sept. 12 again), Chevron, Halliburton and others need to be fed, and they
have made a major campaign issue (a successful one, at that) of never
wavering and never admitting being wrong about anything. We know who they
are and what they stand for. How do they reverse course from there? The only
way out is forward, with blinders on, and damn the torpedoes.

Their coalition is precarious. I don't mean the Coalition of the Willing,
but rather the collection of strange bedfellows who share this Conservative
policy. Funny thing is, strange bedfellows go back to being enemies when
their interests are no longer served by toeing the line any more, and the
current Conservative agenda has more than its share of strange bedfellows
these days. Those links are being frayed day by day now, as the Neocons get
investigated by the FBI for espionage, as the economy sputters along and as
Bush and his allies abandon all conservatism in their tactics. 

Finally, with a wistful look back at the Republican convention, Bush's
refrain, "and nothing will hold us back" made me think of the things he
didn't quite mention:

*       We won't let the Constitution hold us back. We'll continue to
whittle away at it, with John Ashcroft in the lead and freshly packed
judicial benches following up. 
*       We won't let the press hold us back. We won't need to. They keep
giving us a pass. The toughest reporters out there are on
<http://www.comedycentral.com/tv_shows/thedailyshowwithjonstewart/> The
Daily Show?

*       We won't let other nations' opinions or citizens or rights hold us
back. Remember national sovereignty? It's a relic now.

*       We won't let our own intelligence services' saner advice hold us
back. We'll select it, spin it and slam-dunk it. We'll send Cheney over to
the Agency to make sure the analysts come up with the evidence we need to
prove the case we built years ago. 

*       We won't let ballooning deficits or hungry kids at home keep us from
invading other countries. We have the cue ball; we have to run the table.
This is The Big Play. 

My favorite chant from the demonstrators in NYC last sunday:

Call: What does real democracy look like?
Response: This is what democracy looks like!

I have to end with love (yes, after all that), inspired by two thoughts. 

The first is from several recent conversations about Buddhist principles,
especially Thich Nhat Hanh's ideas of
precept-4.html> loving speech and deep listening. Those principles may be
the only way out. Violence does beget violence, and the more committed
combatant is the one that will win in such an encounter. Check my list
above, and you'll see who's got more to lose here. 

The other thought is the contrast between the Democratic convention, which
studiously avoided negative attacks (Jimmy was tough, but no Zell), and the
Republican convention, with its no-holds-barred, slash-and-burn,
the-facts-be-damned approach to affirming loyalty and stoking its supporters

I don't know whether the DemCon was positive because it was focus-grouped,
or because much of the negative stuff is already in the air through the
flurry of documentaries against the Bush Administration or what, but I
suspect it had a lot to do with the Edwards primary campaign. I was struck
by how this unknown guy would come in five percentage points behind Kerry
every time, when the strident Dean got no traction at all. Edwards had no
real policy positions, but he connected superbly with ordinary people, he
never went negative on the rest of the field, and he had the clearest
message of hope. 

It may sound trite, but I'm hoping that that hope gets heard. And acted on.
59 more days?

posted by Jerry Michalski at
2720> 7:16 PM

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