Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The fight for the center

Politics in America is a bidding war for the center.

The Dems made the RINOs a better offer.

Let me make this perfectly clear. Each of the RINOs wanted something for their vote. Frist unlike LBJ don't play that.

And now the Rs are going to strangle their party for funds; because they do not know how to play finesse politics. Where is LBJ when you need him?

So back to square one.

What can the RINOs and Republicans agree on? Get that passed. Forget the rest. This is not religion where absolutes rule. This is politics. And politics has its limits.

I have been saying this since May of '03. Evidently some of you have not been reading my memos and taking them to heart.

And now you want to give up the game because you can't win all the marbles.

Republicans are not going to remake the judiciary. The best they can hope for is to move things a bit in the desired direction. Isn't that enough?

Any idea why the Rs are called the stupid party?


Anonymous said...

Oh geez, and then people like you wonder why there's a drug war. God I hate it when otherwise intelligent people overlook really basic shit, in this case, the fact that you're too unreliable to be worth any real grief.

Have fun when the US Attorney comes after your ass. Eight grams equals intent to distribute, you say? I dunno, seems about right to me.

M. Simon said...

Well no, actually I know why there is a drug war.

To keep minorities down. To keep police employed. To keep lawyers busy. To keep prison constructiion companies in business. Jobs for police. etc. etc. etc.

It can't be to solve the drugs problem because we have been at it for 90 years and we are no closer to a solution than when we started.

Should you care to read some history on the subject try A Short History of Drug Prohibition by a guy who has given talks to the FBI and judges.

Gothamimage said...

Bush won the Judge battle- -

Anonymous said...

Oh geez, libertarians tend to be pretty sharp people but politically juvenile (btw I am assuming you are a libertarian here, please correct if necessary).

And politically speaking at least, your explanation is very naive. Construction companies don't have enough clout to maintain the drug war. No, the drug war runs on its own inertia, and because most Americans are more or less comfortable with it. And it will continue to run until somebody can muster an overwhelming political force to kill it.

For me (and most conservatives, probably) I marginally oppose the drug war, but I could go either way really. As I matter of priority, it can't be any higher than sixth or so, after the War, abortion/judges, cutting federal domestic spending, cutting taxes, & probably a few other things I'm not mentioning.

When push comes to shove, ending the drug war is going to mean winnnig a couple of big showdowns, like the filibuster wars, where both sides have put a lot of chips on the table.

And simply put, nobody is going to be willing to do that for an unreliable ally such as yourself.

So, until you can demonstrate a little bit of loyalty, get used to hiring a defense attorney to argue rules of evidence against some guy from the US Attorney's office who is supported by all the resources of the federal DoJ.

M. Simon said...


I'm not expecting an end of the drug war on political grounds.

There is too much money and too many jobs at stake for that to happen. (It is not just one lobby - there are many supporting it - big pharma, to avoid the competition from unpatentable drugs - the alcohol folks, couldn't handle the competition - same for the tobacco fellers - and of course the one's I already mentioned. Did you know the prison guards in Calif. favor harsher sentences for drug crimes? I wonder why?

What I expect will happen (I chronical it in my drug war articles) is that science will show that he DEA's view of why people take drugs does not match scientific understanding of brain chemistry.

When science shows (as I am confidant it will) that the drug war is a persecution of sick people it will be over.

As to unreliable allies:

Coalitions are ruled by their weakest members. If that bothers you I suggest that losing on some of your issues to the Democrats is an alternative. No matter what you are not going to win on all your issues.

So your choice is - alliances with unreliable allies to win some. Or party purity and win none.

BTW I was once a Libertarian until they screwed the pooch on the War. So you could say I'm a libertarian. I kind of prefer RINO myself, but libertarian will do.

Or you could call me a Jack Ryan Republican.

Anonymous said...

Science can "show" whatever you suppose, but that doesn't mean that anybody's going to care, or be paying attention. Somehow, this will have to go through the political arena to change substantially. And when that happens, you are going to have to defeat the prison guards or drug companies or whoever you are supposing will be on the other side.

As far as coalitions being governed by their weakest members, that frustrates me a fair bit because that means actually the very opposite of what you or Reynolds suppose.

Because in the current context, the weakest members of the coalition on the right are the evangelical Christians. These are people whose lives revolve around church, family or local concerns much more than other conservatives. People like Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, and yourself (I'm guessing on that last one) are actually much more invested in the what the government does than the Religious Right.

I don't know where you've traveled in the world, but if you've been to Europe especially you should know better than to write some of the things you do. Essentially the difference between Holland or Belgium or the UK is that they have no substantial number of religious conservatives in the body politic. The surest way to turn the US in some bogus country is to get rid of them.

Or if that is too exotic for you, the consider your home state of Illinois. The fact is, Jack Ryan would surely have gotten more votes than Alan Keyes, but just as surely was not going to defeat Barack Obama. Therefore, if you are a Jack Ryan Republican you are a political loser and should understand that.

Illinois does not have a strong evangelical presence, and the Catholics here have been substantially coopted into the Left. Therefore the entire Right is more or less irrelevant, with all the consequences that entails.

I personally am a Peter Fitzgerald Republican. And even in his case, a substantial part of the GOP establishment undermined him as well, even though he was not particularly religious.

The poing being, that the Religious Right has this and such concerns, but they're not my concerns so therefore I'm entitled piss on them as I choose. Besides showing a lack of loyalty, it's politically myopic in the extreme.

M. Simon said...


You are quite right about the science: if no one knows about it it will make no difference.

Which is why I write.

And yes the change will have to be political. First comes education.

My belief is that politics is to a certain extent ruled by reason. If that is not true God help us all.

Now in talking to various people interested in the drug war I convert about half of those I have discussions with to my point of view. My best results are with drug councilors.

Go figure.

BTW should you care to discuss my research I'd be glad to open a private e-mail conversation or open a thread specifically for the purpose. Ask a question. I'll see if I have an answer.

BTW there is a link on my sidebar to a DEA Pain FAQ. It says drugs do not cause addiction. So you can see I do have some very powerful allies.


To say that socons are the weakest members of the coalition on the right is an inversion. Think: Frist, Santorum, et al.

The weakest members (in congress) are the RINOs.

And please. Reynolds (like myself) is a former Libertarian. Sullivan who I once considered very smart has gone off the rails.


The Republicans in Illinois used to be winners until they got so corrupt under George Ryan that the people of Illinois repudiated them.

Illinois is a RINO state. If Republicans want to get elected state wide they will have to run RINOs. The California Republican Party before Arnie is instructive in that vein.

Now I may be a big loser for supporting Jack Ryan. Which of course makes those supporting Keyes here total losers. You down with that?

BTW as a RINO type independent who votes my concience and not my party (gave that stupidity up when I left the Libs) why do I owe any loyalty to the socons? They want my vote? They have to give me something to vote for. A policy I want.

If they give me policies I detest I am going to vote against them. Which is why my ticket in the last election was Bush/Obama. For me I'd prefer a communist over a theocon. Evidently a lot of Republicans in Illinois felt the same. Compare the Bush vote totals to the Keyes totals. Not only was Keyes swamped - there was about a 130,000 undervote for the Senate race. I guess some RINOs couldn't brin themselves to vote for a communist.

Me? I wanted to send a message. If you look at the vote totals, I'm not the only one.

So do you want to work together on what we agree on - the war, economics - or do I have to ask the Dems to make me a better offer?

You see I am loyal to policies I want. Not to a party.


Now about the drug war. I'm willing to do some log rolling. What do you want in exchange for my support? If it is a price I'm willing to pay we have a deal.

See how the game is played?

M. Simon said...

BTW Peter Fitzgerald was a stand up guy and got a raw deal from the Illinois Party.

I think it was because the George Ryan Republicans were afraid of an honest guy. Well the crooks are gone now. Good riddance. Bt the damage has been done. It will take 4 or 8 years to repair.

Still, Illinois is more a RINO state that a socon state. Look at Keyes.

Our American political system tends to govern from the middle. This is a good thing. At least to me. Political stability is nothing to be sneezed at. It is one of our engines of prosperity.

M. Simon said...

I should rephrase my drug war support question:

Now about the drug war. I'm willing to do some log rolling. What do I have to give you in exchange for you support for my anti-drug war position? If it is a price I'm willing to pay we have a deal.

See how the game is played?


BTW if chronic drug users are using their drugs to relieve pain shouldn't the socon (being mostly Christian) be rabidly against the drug war?

I was under the impression that one of the main Christian tennents (as it is for the Jewish persuasion - of which I am a member) is the relief of suffering.

How can we take away the drug users drugs until we have found another way to relieve their suffering? To do so is for sure unJewish. It may also be unChristian.

So in fact I am depending on the Christian character of America to end the drug war. Once the facts are available.

In fact I applaud the religious character of America. I just don't believe that the government ought to enforce any sects rules no matter how numerous the sect is.

Alcohol prohibition is a perfect example of sectarian morality enacted into law causing great difficulties. We should avoid it.

Anonymous said...

I started these comments by criticizing you for "overlooking basic shit" and now I see that I should retract that or at least clarify it. Because I don't want to imply that there's some easy out that the libertarians and hippies could take that would end the drug war right away but they're just missing it, and I fear what I've written so far might be taken that way. In broad enough strokes, it works out that way, but there's enough devil in the details to safely say that we're past basic shit now.

First of all, I want to reiterate that you ought to support the political aspirations of the James Dobsons of the world, even if you don't share their particular enthusiasms. This is for two reasons, neither of which is directly related to the drug war. The first reason is because it is the strength of the Religious Right that essentially distinguishes the United States from Canada and the European democracies. And if you don't know already, someone should mention to you that those countries are in very, very sad shape. You don't want to be one if you can avoid it.

Also, the Religious Right also represents the cause of popular sovereignty in the current political arena. That is, through education, persuasion, and organization, they have brought personal and cultural change to the point where on the most important issues, they represent the majority. And let's note, that's exactly how you intend to end the drug war. Except that the evangelicals are thirty years ahead of you. They have actually done, in their area of concern, what you intend to do in yours.

And if the judicial nominations war is eventually lost, it will prove something very important about our country. That is, that our notions of popular sovereignty are largely an illusion. Elections come and go, but the permanent political establishment really controls things. Ths is where I really want to emphasize that perhaps you should be paying more attention than you are. Look at the judges deal again. Chafee, Snowe, and Collins signed on as expression of RINOism, conventionally understood. But the other four, Warner, McCain, DeWine, and Graham, did it as an ego indulgence elevated to high principle. They did this to show that they're in charge and we're not. And if this deal is the last word on the matter, they're _right_. If this is okay with you, ask yourself what John Warner or Mike DeWine has done about the drug war lately.

That's why this business about selling your political support to the highest bidder just doesn't work. You might think it does but it just doesn't. The "parties" in the "coalition" are not stable enough to flip back and forth like that. In particular, if abortion and gay marriage are taken outside of the realm of political organization, evangelicals and conservative Catholics will just go home. Their concerns are mostly local and family-oriented anyway. Then _you_ get to be demogauged as the "far, far right", which by then might even be fair characterization anyway. If I had to guess, your views on the welfare state, taxation, and the role of government are actually to the right of most evangelicals anyway.

And exactly this is exactly what's going on in Illinois, right under your nose, where the GOP has been in more or less continuous decline for 20 years. The RINOs have always wanted to pretend that if the party could sell out on abortion and taxes just a little bit, that they could win. That has always been a bill of goods. There's not enough there for anyone to endure the slings and arrows of battle with the Democrats. Contrast this with the most of the other states, including neighbors like Minnesota or Wisconsin, where the state of the party is on the upswing. There, the GOP stands for its principles, and organizes until it's a majority. Now, here's the important part. Not every Republican in those places supports every principle of the party. But for those they don't support, they live with instead of trying to turn the whole party around, and destroying it in the process.

As far as the logrolling goes, that's yet another manifestation of political naivete. You don't have to horsetrade anything to get my support. I already agree with you, at least marginally. There's just nothing topical to apply my agreement to. But there is something topical that you can support (or decline to), and that's the filibuster war, and the judicial reform it's a proxy for. You can either be a part of the center-right majority as it is, or choose not to. The point being, the big ticket issues are settled by modus vivendi, not horsetrading. It's stuff like highway bills and dairy compacts that's subjectible to logrolling.

Lastly, your question about Christianity and suffering is a complicated one. As best as I can describe it, Christians are supposed to alleviate others' suffering by taking on others' suffering themselves. This is because that's what Jesus did and Christians are supposed to follow Jesus. This has odd implications, and here's a little aside you might find intersting: toward the end of his life, John Paul II refused palliative drugs precisely because they interfered with his inability to suffer on behalf of those he felt solidarity with. Of course, the Pope was one of the moral giants of our age, so it's not right to suggest that Christians expect everybody to do that, or even want them to, or even that Christians in general should do that. If you engage with Christians and tell them that they should support decriminalization to ease the suffering of the sick and dying, that should in principle work.

Finally, I'm posting and sending to email. Feel free to respond either way if you'd like.

John Kosmicke