Random Rants, by Thomas Andrew Olson

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A quick thought on yesterday

The biggest news for me, today, wasn't that the Dems retook the House, and, at last count, are 7000 VA votes away from capturing the Senate, but rather the surprise announcement of Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense.

Bush claimed that he expected Rummy would serve until the end of his administration, and Rummy himself indicated he wouldn't go sooner, unless it was involuntary. Could it be that Bush decided that his administration WAS, in fact, "over" as of today? Did Rummy agree?

We've already been reading tales of the neocon rats deserting the ship (although an insult to rats). But should the Dems decide to use cultured stem cells from the Founding Fathers to rebuild their collective spine, it's possible that the next Congress could involve a lot of inquiries, commissions, and many, many subpoenas. Perhaps Rummy decided discretion was the better part of valor and opted to flee before the subpoenas headed his way - he'd be better off as a private citizen again, as Herr Bush will presumably swing the Pardon Pen on his way out the door.

Iraq is a mess - Rummy was a big factor in that mess. He will not be missed.

Monday, November 06, 2006

All Incumbents Must Go

While I agree, in principle, with the position taken by several LRC contributors that elections today are little more than a scam supporting institutionalized corruption, I still intend to cast a ballot on Tuesday. I have no illusion that my vote – if it’s even counted correctly – is going to make one bit of difference in terms of my own vision for the future of political governance in this nation, or even in my own local community.

For me, it’s far more personal than that: I am gleefully looking forward to helping vote Rick Santorum out of his Pennsylvania senate seat. And when he goes off into the political sunset, or is dragged away kicking and screaming (a far more preferable outcome), I can sleep soundly with the conviction that I had at least a microscopic hand in ending his career.

And I would posit that, should there be an unusually high voter turnout in this midterm election cycle, a major reason would be for that one guilty pleasure – the desire for revenge against incumbents who’ve done us wrong.

While in theory, government “derives its just powers from the consent of the governed”, to borrow from Jefferson, it is clear to me that such consent would have to be withdrawn virtually 100% in order to provoke fundamental change, so I can’t abide by the “don’t vote” argument quite yet – it’s clear the public isn’t ready.

My reasoning stems from this case in point: In 2004, a junior Republican PA State Rep named Kelly Lewis won a close re-election campaign in the 189th district, which includes a part of Monroe County in which I reside, on the usual promises of representing the “hard working people” and “lowering property taxes,” etc. Within 90 days of that re-election, however, Mr. Lewis abandoned both his promises to supporters and his post, by resigning to take a more lucrative job as a technology lobbyist in Harrisburg. There was a special election in 2005 to replace him. A Democrat named John Siptroth won the field. The total voter turnout for that special election was only 17%, and yet the PA Secretary of State declared the results valid. This is really scraping the bottom – 83% of eligible voters in the 189th failed to care enough to show up – but the results still counted. It became clear to me, at that moment, that there would have to be literally no turnout at all, before the political class would question their premises, and perhaps not even then. If a single individual voted, they would find a way to declare that a legitimate election! (Contrast this to countries like Costa Rica, which regularly enjoys 90% turnouts or more. Costa Ricans take their democracy and their politics seriously. Perhaps it’s because every party – and every candidate – has a voice in the debate, as opposed to just the two largest parties.)

But democracy is too ingrained in our national consciousness to just quietly fade away, and until it does, we may as well try to find some enjoyment in the process. If sitting incumbents at the Federal level deserve to be punished at the polls for their mangling of the Iraq war, the economy, the dollar, and immigration, why should incumbent elected officials at any level of government be given a free pass?

It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again - it’s time for a purge – all incumbents must go. Period.

Let’s face it: government at all levels has descended to a base level of lies, corruption, and double-dealing. Everyone who is an elected official today is part of the problem. They should go – all of them. From the Speaker of the House to the county animal control officer. As far as I’m concerned, every elected politician at every level of government is responsible for the mess we’re in today, and it’s time we swept them all out.

Will that change anything? Fundamentally, probably not. We’ll be throwing the bums out and replacing them with new bums. But if all the numbers stayed the same, the Democrats would now control Congress – just not with the same Democrats the party expected. Replacing all incumbents would throw the entire political sphere into complete disarray. The political class would be totally flummoxed by such an event, and they might even decide that listening to their constituents now and then would be a good idea, as they could no longer take “the voters” for granted. This means that “business as usual” at any level of government would be difficult to achieve, from the fear within the “new bums” that they could be next, in another 2-4 years.

We, the voting masses, could begin to get a real head rush from the raw, non-violent exercise of grassroots power in this way, and decide that a “purge” every few years might be a good idea. We might keep our freedom (even get some of it back!), lower our taxes, have more responsive government, who knows where it could lead?

But to start, we need to get out of our heads the mindset that “Yeah, Congress sucks, but my guy/gal is OK.” No, s/he isn’t…s/he’s part of the problem, s/he’s part of the rot that has overwhelmed the system – they need to go – all of them.

If you’re tired of all the nasty ads on TV and the junk mail filling your inbox, vote against all incumbents.

If you’re tired of the hypocrisy of politicians violating every ethical principle they claim to have, vote against all incumbents.

If you’re sick to death of an interventionist foreign policy, vote against all incumbents.

If you tire of allegations that those in power cynically manipulated commodities markets to temporarily lower gasoline prices in order to retain votes from those they perceive to be so easily swayed, vote against all incumbents.

If you consider this man to be Evil Incarnate, vote against all incumbents.

If you’re tired of pols lambasting you with the notion that stem-cell research amounts to wholesale baby-killing, vote against all incumbents.

If you’re sick of the hackneyed, warmed-over arguments concerning gay marriage, vote against all incumbents.

We have nothing to lose by attempting a clean sweep, and everything to gain. However, if/when things do not improve, as hoped, perhaps it will dawn that the process itself is indeed flawed, and it’s too late to fix it. At that point, larger numbers of people might be more willing to accept the non-voting argument, along with those already leading the way in Monroe and Pike counties.

Then, perhaps, by 2012 or 2016, they will hold an election and no one will come – that will indeed be our day of true liberation.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Kerry's Gaffe Changes...What???

OK, so John Kerry botched a joke aimed at Bush. But then I guess only a shallow fool or a posturing Republican would have failed to get the joke in the first place. I picked up what he was trying to say immediately, but gave him minus points for delivery.

But no, everyone had to get in a big huff over it, claiming he was taking nasty potshots at the troops - yeah, right - like that's something a 'Nam vet who's been under fire would actually do!

Can we just get back on point, here? The Iraq war still sucks, our economy and financial system is bordering on meltdown, the Chinese are our bankers, and our southern border and all our ports are like Swiss cheese. Bush's poll numbers are still as low as ever, and more people than ever are still convinced that Iraq is a cluster-fuck, and that the dodos who lied us into it have no clue for getting us out again (as if they really wanted to). If you stick with the basic facts, there's still no reason not to think that the Dems have a good shot at retaking the House, at least, and a longer shot at the Senate.

There is a lot of anger out there at the Republicans, and Rove dragging out the gay-marriage card again will do little to counter it. Republicans don't have to vote for Democrats - all they have to do is stay home on Tuesday and let nature take its course. A Republican party that's humiliated in the mid-terms may actually stand a chance of one day recovering what little soul it has left, beginning with a neocon "purge".

Will a Dem-led House do any better on the war, security, or immigration? Probably not, but at this stage I am beyond caring. Voting out entrenched Republicans may not change much in the grand scheme, but it will certainly punish those specific Republicans from their folly of the last five years. They do not deserve to be rewarded for their mistakes with another two years in office - period.

Those who argue against the death penalty claim it does nothing to deter criminals. Those in favor of it respond that it certainly deters those already convicted of murder and mayhem, and ensures they will not engage in such activities again, ever. I guess I'm making a similar argument here. Voting out all incumbents may not deter the political class as a whole from making bad laws and judgments - but it certainly deters present incumbents who have a clear track record of such error.

So Kerry botched a joke and created a hubbub. If that makes you actually rethink voting against Republicans next Tuesday - if you are that shallow and easily swayed, then perhaps you are indeed "stuck in Iraq", and the Republicans are the party you richly deserve to have rule over you.

Knock yourself out.