DISCLAIMER: I do not attempt to be polite or partisan in my articles, merely truthful. If you are a partisan and believe that the letter after the name of a politician is more important then their policies, I suggest that you stop reading and leave this site immediately--there is nothing here for you.

Modern American politics are corrupt, hyper-partisan, and gridlocked, yet the mainstream media has failed to cover this as anything but politics as usual. This blog allows me to post my views, analysis and criticisms which are too confrontational for posting in mainstream outlets.

I am your host, Josh Sager--a progressive activist, political writer and occupier--and I welcome you to SarcasticLiberal.blogspot.com

Monday, October 31, 2011

What the 2012 Republican Primary Process Reveals

By Josh Sager

The 2012 Republican presidential primary process has become, at best, an embarrassing farce and at worst, the death rattles of the Republican Party. I do not assert that the regressive (I hate the "conservative" label as it is misleading and instead prefer the political science definition of the Republicans) mindset or ideal is any less valid or intelligent than the progressive ones, but that the current right wing is no longer a policy based party.

I am a progressive, which means that I do not subscribe to the social Darwinism of regressive beliefs but I don't claim the regressive mindset to be illegitimate. I see the regressive ideals of radical individualism to be dangerous to those who are less fortunate and in many cases, the seeds of an authoritarian state. The eventual result of individualism and social Darwinism is simply that the powerful will eventually pull away from the rest of society. Social Darwinism parallels biological Darwinism in that society begins to resemble the trees in a rain forest: The taller trees (Top 10% of society) eventually block out the sun for all those under them (Bottom 90% of society), and it gradually becomes nearly impossible for new trees to grow above the canopy. The wealthy in society will eventually consolidate all of the resources due to their level of capital and control over the system. In a regressive system, the government doesn't address social inequality and thus there is no real way for the poor to advance in society; schools stay poor, jobs remain without benefits, and social mobility dries up to a trickle. I see the eventual flaws in the regressive economic model as deadly and thus prefer the progressive model, but this is just my point of view. I have no more right to impose my views on others as they do to impose theirs on me. In a democracy, everybody deserves a voice, regardless of disagreements or partisanship.

I have three major issues with the current Republican Party, all of which are illustrated by the primary process. Through a combination of all three of these party-wide characteristics, the Republican Party has become simply a vehicle by which wealthy interests can affect policy. In the past, the Republican Party has stood for small government, independence from centralized government, and a "moral" set of values primarily based upon Judeo-Christian religion. Whether or not you support the traditional values of the Republican Party, they are based on fact and can be considered a coherent and consistent set of policy goals. In recent years, the Republican Party has mutated due to increased corporate involvement and funding into a party with no consistent set of values other than the perpetuation of the upward concentration of wealth. 

  • The current Republicans have completely divorced themselves from the fact in nearly every issue. Differing interpretations of the same facts is inevitable, but the current right wing has simply decided to make up their own set of facts to fit their narrative.
Whether the issue is scientific such as evolution or social such as trickle down tax policy, the Republican party has completely ceased to consider the objective facts. Science has near unanimously accepted concepts such as evolution, global climate change, and the biological determination of sexual orientation, while at the same time the Republicans have near unanimously rejected these concepts. The same situation has happened with social/economic issues such as tax policy, where the Republicans argue that tax cuts are job creators. Evidence and history have shown that deregulation and tax cuts don't automatically create jobs, just look at the Bush years. The Republicans as a group are unwilling to accept any fact that does not conform to their preconceived notions (confirmation bias) which is fatal to the bi-partisan discussion. If one party is unwilling to accept facts, what hope is there that they can agree upon anything with another party who does? 

Not every political party must accept facts to be considered legitimate, but the orchestrated creation of alternative facts in order to pander to a certain groups does destroy party legitimacy. The Republicans are at best, an advocacy group for the rich and at worst, corporate puppets. The creation of alternative facts is particularly destructive to low information voters because they are often convinced to vote against their own interests.

  • The current Republicans cannot be reasoned or negotiated with; they would much rather destroy the country than let it be run through compromise and cooperation.
A vital part of politics in the USA is compromise due to the separation of powers. One party may control one part of the legislature while the other controls the rest, thus they must find some common ground for government to function. In recent years, the Republicans have steamrollered over the Democrats when in power and obstructed when not to levels never before seen.
The current Republican Party seems unable to compromise on any point and is often willing to play Russian roulette with the country rather than strike a deal. Even when a lack of compromise would harm everybody, the Republicans are unwilling to capitulate even slightly, turning politics into a long term hostage situation. As with any hostage situation: Those who are trying to protect the hostage (the Democrats) are left capitulating to the demands of a minority who are willing to kill the hostage (the American people) if their demands are not met. 

If the Republicans are willing to harm everybody if their demands are not met, then who are they actually serving? The goal of government is to serve the people, but in recent years the Republican ideology has taken precedent over the welfare of the people. Either the Republicans are corrupt in that they care more for helping the rich who fund them than the entire country, or so ideologically extreme that they are willing to be political suicide bombers for the cause of conservatism. When the third problem with the Republican party is taken into account, the only logical conclusion is the former conclusion rather than the latter.

  • The current Republicans have completely sold out to those with money and power. While this problem is by no means exclusive to the Republicans, it has become the primary function of the right wing to pander to the rich. 
In most political ideologies there are central beliefs which are not situational, but rather universal. Each political ideology has a set of values that differentiate them from the rest; the universal Progressive platform includes a strong safety net, education, regulations on corporations, and rights for all people in the country. The universal Regressive platform includes individual freedom from government intervention, low taxes, decreased regulation and personal choice over mandates.

In recent years, the Republicans have abandoned their universal beliefs in all situations which don't benefit the rich. Socialism and redistribution of wealth are evil, except when it is to bail out the banks and corporations. Government control over people's lives is unacceptable except where they disagree with the right wing mindset. Ideological flexibility can be a good thing for compromise, but in this particular case, it demonstrates a lack of principles. All of the right wing ideologies are used for the express benefit of the rich at the detriment of the poor. Capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich is not a consistent political message and demonstrated a lack of conviction behind the message of the current right wing.

In the past, the regressive message has been consistent, based upon facts, and not set in stone to the point where suicide is preferable to compromise. Even Reagan raised taxes when the need for revenue was important to the country. Compromise has been common even for the most right wing politicians when the country would suffer otherwise. Facts are not partisan, they are objective and the complete rejection of reality by one party is a new development in our nation. In short, Republicans have become the party of the rich and those who they can fool into supporting them; the party of no and the party where death is preferable to ideological impurity. The current Republican establishment is nothing like the past regressives, but rather a corporatist tool that serves only themselves and the rich.

Please Republicans, wake up and smell the corruption. Your party is no longer a legitimate political party and if you don't take it back, you will eventually wake up in a USA that you don't recognize.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Occupy Boston Winterization

As Printed in the Occupy Boston Globe

The Occupy Boston Winterization Process

By Joshua Sager

Anyone living in the Northeastern United States can attest to the severity of its cold, long winters.  The daylight hours shorten, the temperature plummets and feet of snow can accumulate on the ground in a single day. Winter in New England can be exceptionally difficult, especially when one is planning to spend it in a tent. At Occupy Boston, protesters are planning on weathering the upcoming winter in their encampment.

The Occupy Boston camp, located in Dewey Square near South Station, is poised to bear the full brunt of the coming blizzards. Winter came early this year, with the first snow falling just this past weekend. The protesters will have to work quickly in order to weather proof their tents for the cold, through a process known as ‘winterization’.

The winterization of a campsite is intended to maximize heat efficiency, keep everything dry and find safe methods of producing heat. Tents are not particularly heat efficient and are susceptible to leaks or collapse in times of snowfall. And not only must tents be made safe, but the grounds of the campsite must be tended to in order to keep them safe for when the snow and ice come.
People move through the camp continuously during the day, so maintaining safe paths is just as important as keeping the living areas habitable. In addition to keeping the campsite safe, the winterization process includes heat production and distribution to the occupiers so that all can be made 
more comfortable in the cold.

Meetings of the Winterization Working Group have been occurred over the last week of October. This contingent of protesters have been working on the physical winterization of the camp as well as disseminating information about how to live in the elements.

In the Winterization meetings, occupiers discuss the processes of insulating, supporting and waterproofing of the tents so as to make them safe for the wintertime. In addition to purchasing military surplus tents, tarps can be used to waterproof standard camping tents, while blankets can be used to create insulating layers. Both waterproofing and heat retention are necessary in the occupier’s camp because hypothermia and frostbite are very real dangers when temperatures drop.

Safety is key if the occupation is to remain active and healthy until spring. In addition to the waterproofing and insulation of tents, additional supports are often needed to prevent collapse. Snow can be very heavy and the tents must have support for when snow accumulates.

The grounds of Dewey Square are a mixture of gravel, dirt and grass. The tents are put primarily on the dirt and grass, while the gravel constitutes the main walking path. In order to prepare for winter, the occupiers must make sure that the gravel path remains open and traversable even in times of snow and ice. The use of road salt is impossible due to the need to preserve the grass segments of the park, thus the winterization group is discussing many alternatives to chemical de-icing.

There have been numerous proposals in the Winterization Group as to the generation and transport of heat for the wintertime. Several proposals for heating include: The use of heated water as a portable heat source in tents to keep them warm; the use of chemical heat, such as the hand-warmers, to generate heat inside of tents; and the use of hot air from the subway vents to warm nearby tents. All ideas put forward are judged on the basis of efficiency, cost and what is allowed by local ordinances.

If people experience exposure, hypothermia or even frostbite, the medics of Occupy Boston have been trained on how to deal with each situation. It is hoped that winterization measures will prevent anybody from experiencing serious negative effects from cold, but if the worst does happen there are people on-site who are willing and able to help.

Spreading information on the potential hazards of winter camping (as well as the steps that can be taken to make it safer) is a large portion of the winterization process. For any Occupy Boston member who is reading this, please keep in mind the following 5 simple steps to safe occupation.
  1. Keep dry; the cold is far more dangerous when you are wet. Wearing dry and warm clothes can prevent hypothermia and exposure.
  2. Keep yourself hydrated and fed; if your body lacks energy, you are more likely to suffer bad effects from low temperatures.
  3. Prepare your living space so that it is insulated, warm and dry. The winter nights are the most dangerous times for camping because you are asleep and it is the coldest time of the day.
  4. If you are feeling sluggish and unusually warm, don’t go to sleep, seek medical help. Hypothermia is very dangerous and it is better to be safe than sorry.
  5. Don’t feel obligated to stay at the occupation if you are feeling unwell. Many people will have poor immune systems, susceptibilities to the cold or medical conditions which prevent them from participating. There is nothing wrong with finding other ways to help out if you are unable to stay at Occupy Boston during the winter months.
The Winterization Working Group will be presenting informational seminars to the General Assembly this week so that people know how to properly set up tents and keep them from collapsing during the winter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From my article in the Occupy Boston Globe

The Assault on Oakland

October 26, 2011

Article by Joshua Sager
In the early morning of October 25th, a massive police action took place on the occupiers of Oakland, CA. Numerous news sources have reported that hundreds of riot squad and state police descended upon the campsite outside Oakland city hall at around 4:30am.
The occupiers formed barriers out of scrap materials such as wooden pallets, intending to obstruct the police incursion into the park. At approximately 4:45 AM the police warned the occupiers that they were in violation of the law by staying in the park overnight and then began to close in upon the Occupy Oakland camp. The police came in full riot gear and used crowd suppression weapons, including flash bang grenades, tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag guns. It is the most extreme response to any Occupy protest site within the United States since the movement began last month.
A firsthand account by Kevin Army (See bottom of page for link), a blogger, states that the mainstream media were warned away from the police action and the independent media were intentionally tear gassed. The media was clearly dissuaded from documenting the evolving situation at Occupy Oakland, either through warning or inclusion in the ensuing violence.
The police action in Oakland lasted for just over an hour. By the time that it was done, the campsite was destroyed. Numerous protesters sustained minor injuries and chemical exposure due to gas, but no severe injuries have been reported. As of now, no police injuries have been reported.
There are conflicting reports of the number of arrests at the Oakland site. The police report just over 70 arrests at the main site in Frank Ogawa plaza, as well as under ten arrests at smaller locations around the city. Some reports by protesters and media on site report higher arrest totals, ranging from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties.
The Mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, released an official statement early today, an excerpt of which is posted below:
 “Many Oaklanders support the goals of the national Occupy Wall Street movement. We maintained daily communication with the protesters in Oakland.
 However, over the last week it was apparent that neither the demonstrators nor the City could maintain safe or sanitary conditions, or control the ongoing vandalism. Frank Ogawa Plaza will continue to be open as a free speech area from 6 am to 10 pm.”
Tuesday night saw continued confrontations between protesters and police, as the occupiers tried to re-enter their encampment.  Again, riot police used tear gas to disperse the protesters.  By early Wednesday morning, all that was left was a thin haze left over Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Kevin Army:http://open.salon.com/blog/yserba/2011/10/25/police_raid_occupy_oakland_push_me_to_the_ground

Monday, October 24, 2011

Occupy Boston: Disorganized or Simply Complicated?

Occupy Boston: Disorganized or Simply Complicated?

By Joshua Sager

When you hear about the Occupy Protests that have sprung up across many cities in the USA, you hear one common complaint: "They are disorganized and have no idea what they are protesting.". Speaking as a person who has observed the Occupy Boston protests for several weeks, I have observed that while the occupiers at Dewey Square don't yet have a defined set of demands or guiding issues, they are very organized.

The picture below is one that I took last week and points out the single best reason that the occupiers have yet been unable to define even a single demand. The current political and economic situations in the USA are simply so bad that nobody can agree upon which is the most important problem to fix. Imagine that your car starts to fall apart on the road; what do you fix first: The flat tires, the overheating engine, that rattling sound coming from under the hood, or the stuck parking break? As with the car analogy, our country is suffering from an unheard of number of problems: A corrupt and partisan legislature, an economic recession, record income disparity, record unemployment, and a suffering environment.

I ask, is it a problem that they cannot decide which issue to focus their numbers and resources upon, or is it a problem that the politicians in both parties are ignoring most of the vital problems plaguing this country in favor of empty, partisan bickering? Perhaps the best illustration of this problem is the recent fight over abortion rights in the House. Rather than discussing the policies that would help the country climb out of the economic crater we have landed in, the congress is spending time appeasing the anti-choice voters. 

In addition to the sheer number of issues there are two more major reasons that the occupiers have yet to settle upon any demands or primary issues:

The Occupy Boston movement operates in a pure horizontal democracy, thus every decision is put to a vote; this takes much more time than when a professional activist hands a bunch of people signs and talking points. Ultimately, democracy takes time and the occupiers plan to operate in the way that they believe our political system has abandoned. In their minds, the occupation is organized in the moral way, rather than the expedient one. Due to the necessity of every action, even insignificant ones, to pass by consensus in the GA, the occupier‘ progress is far slower than if they were operated in a top down fashion.

The Occupy Boston movement is incredibly diverse. At any time, there can be Republicans, Anarchists, Democrats, Socialists, Libertarians and everybody in between engaging in honest discussion. The unusual range in ideologies and belief contained in the Occupy movement requires much more discussion and voting in order to be representative of their components.

In a partisan organization, most of the people involved have common characteristics that bind them into a single party (Ex. Republicans have “fiscal conservatism” as a unifying factor). As the opposite of a partisan political organization, the Occupy movement has a wide range of views and political ideologies, thus they have a huge need to debate and compromise. Groups such as the anarchists and libertarians, who in a partisan group would be unable to coexist, can find agreement on issues such as international interventionism. By removing the partisan labels and focusing purely upon vital issues, the occupiers are gradually formulating a cross-partisan series of common values and proposals intended to help everybody.

The Occupy Boston movement may be without a unified series of proposals, but this in no way makes it disorganized or without opinions. A better way of looking at the criticism of the Occupy Boston process is that they have far too many views and are using a highly organized and fair, albeit slow, methodology in order to determine their unified statement.

Friday, October 21, 2011

More Occupy Boston Photos

I have been very busy lately and thus my postings have been much more sporadic. The pictures below are just a few of those which I took at the Occupy Boston rallies. My video compilation is currently being converted and I will post it as soon as I can.

Occupy Boston Demands Draft -- Formed through use of the survey's results

Please go to the link below in order to view the presentation online


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Occupy" Arrest Totals

Summary of Arrests at ‘Occupy’ Protests Nationwide

October 18, 2011
By Joshua Sager
Over the last month, protests have sprung up all across the country united by a common moniker and tactic: ‘occupy’.  Despite wide variations in geographic locations and group demographics, these protests have marched and met in the hopes of democratically selecting an agenda for their local occupation.  As of now, many groups have yet to decide upon a centralized set of goals or demands.  However, all of the groups were created from the same ideals and operate in similar manners; thus, they can be considered a single movement.
Like many protests, there have been people arrested both during protests or sit-ins.  Unlike many protests, several factors have led to a lack of consideration of the arrests on a national scale.  Because of the Occupy movement’s decentralized and geographically disparate nature, people often fail to realize the sheer number of people arrested nationally for exercising their rights to peaceably assemble and speak freely.  In addition, the mainstream media have often ignored the Occupy protests for unspecified reasons. Only in recent days have major media outlets begun to regularly cover the Occupy events, meaning many arrests from the earlier days have fallen under the radar.
I have composed a list of locations, dates and numbers of people arrested.  Although the bulk of the arrests have been in New York City (where the movement began with #OccupyWallSt), this is an issue of national importance warranting further examination.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This article is in my opinion, the best articulation of the current GOP. I have literally nothing to add.

Richard (RJ) Eskow


The Nihilist Party: Republicans Who Believe in Nothing

Posted: 10/17/11 12:06 AM ET

Some people's only exposure to nihilism comes from the German gang in The Big Lebowski who said things like "We are nihilists, we believe in nothing" and "Tell us where the girl is or we cut off your johnson, Lebowski." Or the nihilist humor of comedian Brother Theodore, who liked to say things like "I looked at the void, the void looked back -- and neither of us liked what we saw."
That's exactly how I feel when I watch the Republican Presidential debates.
The void that looks out through their eyes is the absence of any underlying principle, ideology, or ideas, especially on economic issues. It's not that their beliefs are different than yours or mine. It's that, as now seems clear, they don't actually believe in anything -- anything, that is, except greater power for themselves and greater wealth for their financial backers.
Nothing in nihilism's long intellectual history has prepared the world for its latest incarnation as the 21st century Republican party, or in its ultimate flowering in the likes of Mitt Romney and Herman Cain.
Void, Meet Void
ni*hi*lism a: a viewpoint that traditional beliefs and values are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless.
- Merriam-Webster Online
Matt Bai has a piece in today's New York Times Magazine subtitled "The G.O.P. Elite tries to take its party back." It's well worth reading. But it doesn't point out that neither side of that struggle represents a coherent worldview. Today's G.O.P. has no core beliefs. In both its policies and its politics it has devolved into a set of actors without core beliefs, fighting for domination on the ruthless and bloody stage of soulless nature.
We're not nostalgic or sentimental or naive. The pursuit of power has always driven politicians on both sides of the aisle. But there was once an underlying ethos, and it's gone. Once Republicans believed in certain things, like the importance of business as part of society, a smaller role for Federal government, and states' rights. But the new Republicans are nihilists. They believe in nothing.
And when it comes to Medicare and other Great Society programs, they're even willing to cut off the country's "Johnson" to prove it.
Whatever It Is, We're Against It
ni*hi*lism b: a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially moral truths
The Tea Party was built around burning rage, which billionaire-funded Republican operatives channeled for their own uses like it was geothermal energy. It's possible to sympathize with their anger while recognizing that the movement's only ideology is destruction - of government, and of anyone or anything it believes to be its enemy.
But the party "establishment" Matt Bai writes about doesn't have an ideology either. It did, back in the Reagan days. But then came Newt Gingrich, whose pole star was the use of language to win elections. His ascension to the Speakership in 1994 marked the beginning of the end of Republican ideology.
From that moment on, winning was the only thing that mattered.
Whatever Democrats propose, Republicans oppose. Republicans passed and signed a $286 billion infrastructure spending bill under George W. Bush. (Boehner's predecessor, Denny Hastert, was on hand to celebrate the spending for bridges, roads, and mass transit.) Today they oppose all such spending. Why? Because it's proposed by Democrats.
The GOP abandoned states rights when it began overriding states on social issues, and then when it pushed to strip the states of the ability to regulate businesses. It abandoned free-market principles when it pushed for bank bailouts and other corporate subsidies.
And balance-sheet executives like Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are even willing to abandon the inexorable logic of numbers when it suits their purposes.
Less Than Zero
Cain chaired the Board of Governors for the Kansas Federal Reserve and has an undergraduate degree in mathematics, so he's capable of performing basic arithmetic functions. Yet his "9.9.9" program (in German that's "Nein! Nein! Nein!") is, among other things, bad arithmetic. It doesn't reflect a different economic philosophy than yours, or mine, or Joe Stiglitz's. It's just gibberish.
Ten years after George W. Bush dropped our highest tax rate to 35%, the country's in shambles. The combination of lost tax revenue, upward distribution of wealth, and the stagnating wages and buying power of the middle class has most of the country locked in permanent recession. In the midst of this chaos, Cain's proposing to drop the top marginal tax rate to 9% - which is 1/10th of what it was at one point under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower.
Maybe he just really, really hates taxes? No. He wants to raise them dramatically on some people, by imposing the same 9% Federal tax rate on those people the goofy, would-be "53% movement" complains about - people who don't pay Federal income tax, like the working poor.
A radical tax cut for the wealthiest Americans can't be offset by imposing a taxes on our lowest earners. It doesn't add up.
Republicans For Higher Taxes
Cain also wants to add a 9% Federal sales tax to ... well, everything. That's economic insanity, since our crisis was brought on by a lack of demand which this would make much worse. But it's not just insane - it's also a tax hike. Sure, wealthy people would have a net cut, but everybody else's taxes would go up.
The Republican front-runner would raise taxes for most Americans.
His 9% corporate tax rate is staggeringly low. But corporations are already sitting on $2 trillion in cash. What would make them spend that money? Demand. And what would kill demand even more than it's been killed already? A Federal sales tax - like Herman Cain's.
Besides holding opinions that one of his fellow Governors considered "in step with Fed policies of the time," Cain was a successful CEO. He didn't get that successful by misreading financial information. So when he wrote that "Current projections indicate that Medicare will go bankrupt by 2017" he almost certainly knew he was lying. Killing or gutting Medicare would be a symbolic emasculation of Lyndon Johnson, but it would also relieve a source of government spending that's increasing the demand to raise taxes on the wealthy.
There's no internal logic to Cain's economic positions except this: They would benefit the wealthy and corporations, and they're handy gimmicks for getting publicity. That's not ideology; it's cynicism.
59 Ways to Leave Your Values
During the last debate Cain asked Romney if Romney could list all 59 points in his economic plan, and Romney laughed. He's not expected to know what's in his own proposal - or to care.
Romney begins his proposal by observing that "In 1947, the year I was born, unemployment was 3.9 percent. In 1968, when I turned 21, it was 3.6 percent." What he doesn't say is that the top marginal tax rate in 1947 was more than 86%, and that in 1968 it was 75%. Today it's 35%, and Romney wants to drive it down even more.
The Romney plan would make it even easier for companies to send jobs overseas. It would lower their taxes and remove the regulations whose removal led to the meltdown of 2008. It would accelerate the destruction of the middle class by taking away collective bargaining rights and cut all government spending - include the kinds that create jobs and keep us safe on the highways and in the air.
Economically, Romney's as radical as Cain. He just hides it better.
Economic Nihilism
ni*hi*lism c: a doctrine or belief that conditions ... are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake, independent of any constructive program or possibility
When Republicans rejected Obama's jobs act last week, their alternative proposal was ... nothing. Their sole motivation appeared to be not letting Obama succeed, even if millions of Americans suffered as a result. Obama's infrastructure proposal was much more modest than the one signed by George W. Bush, during a period when it was much less needed. But they rejected it anyway.
There's no common thread here except self-interest - and the fact that they all help wealthy individual and corporate donors. This dovetails nicely with the Tea Party's "Disco Inferno" attitude toward government: "Burn the mutha on down." That's smart, from a purely opportunistic point of view. But it leaves no room for negotiation.
As for Romney and Cain, they both understand numbers. They can both read a spreadsheet. And they have the added advantage of not being trained economists, so never undergoing what my friend Mike Konczal calls " by far the most ideologically indoctrinating class I've ever seen" - an introduction to graduate-level macroeconomics.
That's why I'm so certain they know they're speaking nonsense. As good business people,they know how smart it would be to borrow money at today's historically low rates and then invest it in jobs, growth, and infrastructure. But that wouldn't serve their interests or those of their patrons, so they're not going to tell you that.
Blood Oaths
Who trusted God was love indeed/And love Creation's final law/Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw ... shriek'd against his creed.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
A creed - any creed, however flawed - has as its base the greatest good for all. Without that, people are just reflecting that bloody side of nature that is without belief or principle. And there's no point negotiating with people whose sole objectives are their own pursuit of power, which involves your destruction, and to serve their paymasters' interests as efficiently as possible.
The "values" party has none - certainly none that would be recognizable in any religious tradition.
The "bipartisan" school of political thought finds this kind of thinking heretical. Everybody has their point of view, the thinking goes, so we just need to find "common ground ..." But when your opponents' sole goal is to win, that becomes impossible. There's no common ground on scorched earth.
Sure, the Democrats have often been weak and vacillating, diluting their own values and echoing some of thir opponents' nihilistic anti-government rhetoric. And there's a raging ideological war in that party, too, between those who believe in the role of government and those who support the right-leaning Clinton/Obama economics represented by Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Tim Geithner.
But the Democrats still seem to have, or at least want, a core set of beliefs. The natural (and usually admirable) desire to negotiate and find peace is one of them. But it conflicts with another value, one that's even more central to our democracy: to point out the differences between you and allow the public to choose. If the Democrats aren't up to the task, another group will step in - or democracy will fail.
"Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada as it is in nada."
Ernest Hemingway, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
For what it's worth, I wish things were different. I wish there was an honorable if misguided GOP to be dealt with like the Republicans of old. Whatever their faults, those Republicans managed to build the national highway system (under Eisenhower), proposed a guaranteed national income (under Nixon), and negotiated honestly if conservatively over Social Security (under Reagan.)
You could negotiate with those Republicans because they had an ideology. They had beliefs and values. Half a loaf was better than none for them, because compromise served a greater goal. It would be a better world if today's Republicans were like that. But today's Republicans can't be negotiated with. They can only be defeated. Defeated, or forced to change by intense political pressure.
The problem is that these Republicans don't have a greater goal. Their actions are simply reflections of a baser nature, red in tooth and claw and shrieking against any creed that seeks the just and the humane. They live only to serve their wealthy and powerful sponsors. They believe in nothing.
They are nihilists.