Wednesday, September 23, 2009


The land where conservative spokespersons actually make sense...

People who work for large and small news organizations- print and electronic- are lazy. I know that they are lazy because they inexplicably keep using labels that long since have lost all meaning. Take the typical "liberal" versus "conservative" dichotomy which pops up every day in op-ed columns and news pages. So if a commentator or a legislator is a "conservative," what does that mean, exactly? What does that tell us about his or her values and world view? Let's start with a literal definition of the term. My handy dictionary says a conservative is:

"1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

2. cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.

3. traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit."

You will note that nowhere in that string of definitions do the words "irrational," "nutjob," or "fat, pompous, gasbag, drug abusing hypocrite" appear. Nor do the terms "hatchetface," "weepy," or "demagogue." Yet note how many of those adjectives apply to the luminaries on the list of "conservatives" of whom the Albany Herald's online poll asked- "Who do you think is America's top conservative spokesman today?" [Presumably the Herald considers Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter "men" for purposes of their poll.]:

Glenn Beck
Rep. John Boehner
Dick Cheney
Ann Coulter
Sean Hannity
Mike Huckabee
Mark Levin
Rush Limbaugh
Sen. Mitch McConnell
Bill O'Reilly
Sarah Palin
Mitt Romney
Thomas Sowell
Michael Steele

Oddly enough, the list appeared next to an article by Herald reporter Pete Skiba about Ray McBerry, a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial primary next year, who spoke to an audience of 20 at Doublegate Country Club the other day. I say "oddly" because McBerry appears to beat the above list of competitors for America's top conservative spokesman hands down. I mean how can you beat this kind of conservatism, as reported by Mr. Skiba:

"Bearing arms is a right residents have, not by the Constitution nor by Georgia law," McBerry said. "It is a God-given right that God gave you."

If the federal government tried to send agents to disarm law-abiding Georgians, McBerry as governor would arrest them and let them sit in jail waiting for someone to bail them out, he said.

McBerry called property and income taxes unconstitutional and "Marxist to the core." He would repeal the taxes in Georgia."

Wow. I've gotta say, I almost feel like voting for this guy for the entertainment value alone. Imagine having a governor going out and trying to arrest federal agents! Film of the tasered governor at 11:00. [Short aside: some decades ago a similarly skewed legendary Baker County Sheriff vowed to arrest any FBI agents who dared cross the county line. He was smart enough never to try to make good on his pledge. And the next two Baker County Sheriffs ended up convicted in Federal Court.] Perhaps a new reality television show will glom onto Mr. McBerry and put him in a house with several other refugees from the looney bin. They could compete to see who can create the most paranoid and violent separate reality.

A quick look back at what self labeled "conservatives" actually did when the reins of power were put in their hands from 1995 to 2009 (Congress was in Republican control from 1995-2007, the presidency from 2001-2009) is very instructive: two wars started, neither finished; deregulation of banks and mortgage companies, followed by gigantic, world shaking failures of banks and mortgage companies, and one whopping recession, the worst since the Great Depression; one city (New Orleans) lost to a hurricane while FEMA was put in the hands of an Arabian Horse Association executive; corruption scandals all over the map, including allowing K-street lobbyists to write legislation; selling earmarks to government contractors (thank you, Congressmen Ney and Cunningham and lobbyist Jack Abramoff); C-130 planeloads of cash flown to Iraq and billions of dollars disappeared down the rat hole with no accounting; and, for the fiscal conservative fans out there, a doubling of the national debt to over $10 trillion in just 8 years, with a Clinton term ending surplus of $160 billion turned into record setting $500+ billion annual deficits in nothing flat.

So as the self styled "conservatives" now blather about how the government can't afford to help citizens avoid bankruptcy from out of control medical costs, it would be nice to have just one journalist ask them where they were when Bush managed to wreck the federal budget and spend 5 trillion dollars the country didn't have to fund tax cuts for the superrich, war, and giveaways to the drug companies in the form of Medicare "reform." (Not to mention leaving us to the tender mercy of China and other foreign countries which now hold our debts.) As they rip President Obama for supposedly putting "death panels" between a patient and his doctor, ask them where they were when insurance companies were keeping doctors from treating patients with life threatening illnesses. When they claim to be strong on support for the troops, ask them why they were proposing budget cuts to veterans hospitals even as servicemen's needs skyrocketed from injuries and illnesses caused by a war against an imaginary threat of WMD's in Iraq. And ask them who is paying for two wars seven thousand miles away that have nothing to do with our national security (pssst: Bin Laden is in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, and despicable as they are, the Taliban didn't attack us on 9-11-01).

And what is a liberal? That's easy. Anyone who believes that facts, logic, and reality trump fantasy. Anyone who avoids finding scapegoats (blacks, immigrants, gay people) to blame society's problems on instead of trying to solve them. Anyone who believes that the proper use of government is for the public good rather than for lining the pockets of the super rich and the well connected.


Post a Comment

<< Home