Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | September 28, 2013

You say Thermopylae, I say Alamo

A few observations on the battle for America’s future as it shapes up heading for 1 October, or perhaps 17 October, or perhaps a date after that.

1.  Allen West invoked Thermopylae, Leonidas, and the 300 Spartans as an analogy to where we are after Ted Cruz’s stand in the Senate this week.  Cruz being from Texas, I was going to invoke the Alamo, Colonel Travis, and the 180-some who died with him in the siege there.  But OK.

As every school kid used to know, Thermopylae and the Alamo both mattered, even though both battles were lost by their tiny contingents of doughty defenders.  The pass at Thermopylae was well-chosen terrain for a defending force as small as the Spartans’; the Alamo was poorly chosen for making a defensive stand against a much superior Mexican army.  Both battles were, in any case, lost.  But their defenders ultimately won their wars in other battles: the Greeks in the naval contest at Salamis, a few weeks later; the Texans at the Battle of San Jacinto, six weeks after the Alamo fell.

It’s useful to consider the Alamo’s aftermath.  Its fall to the army of Santa Anna caused Texan settlers to flee eastward and the Texan army to retreat and regroup.  The fledgling Republic of Texas government took to the hoof as well.  And Santa Anna got cocky, splitting his army and sending it in three different directions across what is now south Texas to mop up stragglers.

But news of the Alamo brought in a flood of recruits to Sam Houston’s Texan army.  On 21 April 1836, the freshly armed and emboldened Texans attacked Santa Anna’s rump force near Lynchburg Ferry.  After the ensuing Battle of San Jacinto (which lasted 18 minutes), Santa Anna was captured, and was forced to order his army out of Texas.  The war for Texan independence was won.

Was Cruz’s Stand an “Alamo” moment?  Will it bring recruits to the political battle against big-government inertia?  I don’t think we know the answer to that yet.  But I do think reflexive naysayers are wrong to proclaim doom preemptively.  I can’t count the number of times I heard, during his “non-filibuster” on the Senate floor, that people out there were listening to Cruz – people who haven’t paid that much attention before, younger people and lower-information voters.

Cruz was saying things you could understand.  He was getting his point across, on his terms.  Is there anyone who doesn’t understand that his purpose was to prevent the implementation of Obamacare, while still funding the government for the next year?

I’ve seen this next point made multiple times in the last few days as well – not by the mainstream, go-to pundits on the right, to be sure, but by the independents: bloggers, talk radio hosts, readers in the comments sections.  When Obamacare ratchets up the hurt for more and more people in the next year – if the House can’t at least get the individual mandate delayed – those lower-information voters will remember Ted Cruz.  It’s not that it will be a political triumph for him.  It’s that they will remember there was someone taking a clear, identifiable stand.  They’ll remember the fight: remember that there was someone with a serious plan to stop this thing.

2.  This is the fight of our generations’ time, and frankly, it’s in some ways a much harder one than the fight entrusted to the Greatest Generation.  In this fight, we can’t fall back on the simplicity of armed shoot-outs for terrain.  We are battling for terrain: we’re battling for who controls the political future of America, and how we shall live on our abundantly blessed territory.  But the battles are political, moral and spiritual, and right now, they are being shaped for us by a small, radical minority, which is able to wag the great, well-meaning shaggy dog that is the American public because we have handed them the leverage of big government to do it with.

I don’t see a clever way around this problem: a way of somehow inducing better conditions out of bad ones, without the people having to come to their senses.  But I’m also not convinced that the people are as far from coming to their senses as the old-school thinkers in the GOP would have us assume.

I am convinced that the only way to win this fight is to educate and persuade the people, and offer them sensible, meaningful alternatives.  Notably, that’s what Ted Cruz was doing: educating, persuading, and offering a sensible, meaningful alternative.  Given the consistent trend of the polls, what he proposed is what Americans actually want: get rid of Obamacare, while funding and operating the federal government on schedule, without raising the debt ceiling.  It’s a testament to how utterly distorted Beltway thinking is, that that commonsensical plan is the one that’s considered nutty and unworkable.

(I was especially entranced by Kirsten Powers’ argument on Fox News on the Friday afternoon panel, that Republicans are being stupid by picking Obama’s “signature piece of legislation” as their hill to die on.  What that actually tells us is how stupid politics is.)

Davy Crockett in mid-fight (R. J. Onderdonk's "Fall of the Alamo," 1903)

Davy Crockett in mid-fight (R. J. Onderdonk’s “Fall of the Alamo,” 1903)

3.  And that brings us to the point that, in light of information from the polls and the truth on the ground, it’s the Democrats who by rights should have to compromise.  What the people want is logical and consistent.  The people want to keep government open, overturn Obamacare, and reduce federal spending so as not to require another debt-ceiling increase.  None of this is illogical or impossible.  It’s all rational and feasible.  It just means that it’s the Democrats who have to change their demands to make it happen.

4.  Yet no one with the voice of authority frames the current “crisis” in those clear and simple terms – certainly not the leading right-wing pundits and GOP political leadership.  When Ted Cruz and his allies point out that that’s our ground truth, they are excoriated from both sides of the aisle.  How we have let ourselves be cornered by expectation and procedure!

5.  Still: are the Democrats obliging us by pulling a “Santa Anna” and getting too cocky?  Very possibly.  They have certainly burned their bridges with everyone outside their own base.  Yet they themselves only look unified and purposeful in comparison to the pathetically paralyzed, self-destructive Republicans.  Twelve months ago, no Democrat wanted the president campaigning in his district.  Twelve weeks ago, they were defecting right and left from Obamacare.  Three weeks ago, they were criticizing the president, in growing alarm, for his handling of Syria and the NSA surveillance issue.  Democrats haven’t suddenly become a monolith.

What too many rank and file Republicans see, however, is the GOP’s own leaders retreating alongside the Democrats across the burning bridge, with a few of them stamping at the flames ineffectively and hollering at us to shake a leg and follow them, already, since they know what they’re doing in this smart man’s game of politics, and we’re just a bunch of tea-baggers.

6.  What the Alamo did – what Thermopylae did – was crystallize and clarify the strategic situations of the Texans, respectively, and the Greeks.  The watershed battles forced the Texans and Greeks to take stock and make decisions, rather than merely dog-paddling on a current of pre-existing momentum.

Cruz’s Stand poses to Republicans, indeed to all advocates of limited government, exactly that challenge: taking stock and making decisions.  Do we need to see our situation with any more clarity than this?  Republican leaders prefer to accept the outcome of procedure – not “law,” procedure – regardless of how it affects the people.  The cloture vote in the Senate shows in the starkest terms that 25 of the Senate Republicans associate their interests with a continuation of the Democrats’ status quo.

We can’t let these people be our leaders any longer.  That is the element of this whole mix that it is within the power of conservative activists to change.  It has to be where we put our effort.  I don’t think we know yet what it will take to dethrone the GOP’s current leadership: whether it can be done within the Republican brand, or will have to take the form of a third-party surge.

I do think that success will depend partly, but not wholly, on viable personalities emerging in leadership positions.  I also think that that field is wide open, except for the lack of credibility that insistent defenders of the status quo will have from here on out.  There will be no need to take action to exclude the McCains and McConnells from strategizing for the future.  They just won’t be there where the future is being planned.  We need not say it with rancor, but we know it: their irrelevance is sealed.  They are the past.

We can’t know yet if Ted Cruz himself will span the roles of Leonidas and Themistocles, or Travis and Houston.  But the sun came up after Thermopylae, as it came up after the Alamo, and the cause in which brave men gave their lives was ultimately won.  We have not yet begun to fight.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.

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Responses

  1. Good insights. You are right: we need to educate and persuade folks that the current Democrat welfare state approach is dooming our economy and our people.

    I think there is a marginal chance that Barry and Harry are overplaying their hand and that the MSM will, for one reason or another turn on them: why do they negotiate with dictators and theocrats but not with R’s? Why isn’t it a good idea — as opposed to Barry’s claim that it’s madness, etc. — to delay this disastrous Obamacare for a year?

    In any event, if the R’s don’t take a stand now, they never will. Obama wants a shutdown — so be it. When Clinton vetoed the budget in the 90s and caused the shutdown, the R’s only lost a few seats and continued to hold the House. So Obama’s threats may just be another sequester-like bluff.

  2. In some ways it’s actually worse than putting procedure over law. Even if you accept the (constitutionally and legally dubious) practice of continuing resolutions, CRs must be subject to /at least/ the same constraints as govern legitimate appropriations. Yet look what Obamacare defunders were faced with explaining: Resisting cloture to vote on a bill which “defunds Obamacare” – because Harry Reid would allow exactly one amendment post-cloture: to “restore Obamacare funding”.

    But that violates Senate Standing Rule XVI, which governs the appropriations process: SR XVI allows unlimited amendments, except that no amendment increasing the appropriation is allowed (a rule that honors the Constitution’s requirement that appropriations must originate in the House). In this case, Reid allowed only an amendment that Senate rules disallow, and disallowed amendments which Senate rules allow for the appropriations process — and no one objected! [To be sure, I don’t understand how, in 21 hours, Ted Cruz could not mention that violation of Senate rules and the Constitution.] In fact, not only did no one object (sadly typical), but talking heads ridiculed Cruz for “filibustering a bill he supports” – without even a nod to the corruption of that process.

    Indeed, it’s even worse than that, if you look at the continuing resolution sent to the Senate and the “clean” CR sent back to the House. Unfortunately, that’s too long a story to put into this comment, so it must suffice for now to say read the CRs; check the history — the corruption of the process is so complete and longstanding that almost nothing you have heard officially is true – and I have yet to hear anyone in the media report the facts.

  3. I’m with you on this one Optcon, totally.

  4. Does anyone have a read on what the pols in DC are hearing from the grass roots? I get this strange sense that the GOP base has essentially said you will be unelected if you don’t force the issue – and if you do you can take your chances.

    Weird vibe I am picking up.

    One thing I do think – if the shutdown occurs, it is in the GOP’s interest to keep sending CRs on the DOD if the Senate won’t fund the DOD. And since it seems like the welfare lines will keep paying, maybe the low info voter won’t notice any difference between a shut down and the regular state of things.

    I figure that since 59% of the non-DOD part of govt will keep functioning in the even of a shutdown, perhaps that is the 59% we need to consider keeping, and just jettison the rest.

  5. Rarely have we disagreed so thoroughly on the situation we face.

    Categorizing disagreement as ‘reflexive naysaying’ changes the factual reality, not a bit.

    “Was Cruz’s Stand an “Alamo” moment? Will it bring recruits to the political battle against big-government inertia? I don’t think we know the answer to that yet.”

    Unfortunately, we do know the answer; No it was not an ‘Alamo moment’, nor is it bringing many new ‘recruits’ to our cause.

    The implication that suddenly, significant numbers of “people who haven’t paid that much attention before, younger people and lower-information voters” were tuning in to FOX & CSPAN to watch and consider Cruz’s comments is quite frankly, wishful thinking.

    It is of great importance that when Obamacare ratchets up the hurt for more and more people in the next year, that those lower-information voters will NOT have been made aware of Cruz’s stand by the mainstream media and that only readers of conservative blogs and those who listen to conservative talk radio hosts will remember Ted Cruz’s stand and arguments.

    This is known as “preaching to the choir”.

    The people who are “going to come to their senses” have already done so. Anyone who voted for Obama in 2012 is not going to change their overall opinion of him or of the policies he advocates. They have swallowed the kool-aid and, do now and will blame ALL future misfortune upon the Republicans, the “evil rich”, ubiquitous corporate greed and the essential ‘unfairness’ of capitalism itself. Along with a healthy dose of racial animus, class envy and hatred toward devout Christians and accusations of ‘homophobia’.

    ”I am convinced that the only way to win this fight is to educate and persuade the people, and offer them sensible, meaningful alternatives. Notably, that’s what Ted Cruz was doing: educating, persuading, and offering a sensible, meaningful alternative.”

    To educate and persuade people you have to be able to reach them and you have to be recognized as a credible source of information. Conservative talk radio and blogs reach a small percentage of the public. The vast majority of the public has been indoctrinated, literally for decades in the memes of the left, through the schools and the main stream media. Those memes are emotion based and, it is as true today as it was in Ben Franklin’s day, when he observed that, “You can’t reason with people who have reached their positions, not through reason but through emotion.” Academics have spent decades devolving education in this country and we now have a public that is no more aware of history, critical thinking skills in logic, reason, mathematics and language than a medieval peasant with dung on their boots.

    ”Given the consistent trend of the polls, what he proposed is what Americans actually want: get rid of Obamacare, while funding and operating the federal government on schedule, without raising the debt ceiling. What the people want is logical and consistent. The people want to keep government open, overturn Obamacare, and reduce federal spending so as not to require another debt-ceiling increase. None of this is illogical or impossible.”

    With all due respect J.E., I believe wishful thinking is leading you to misread the polls. Certainly that is what a percentage of the people want but the great majority, “want their cake and to eat it too”. Few are willing to recognize and act upon the understanding that we CANNOT, that it is a mathematical impossibility, to fund and operate the federal government without raising the debt ceiling…unless we are willing to defund and abolish major portions of the entire federal government <iand greatly reduce entitlements. And of those who recognize this truth and are willing to MASSIVELY reduce government expenditures… even fewer recognize that neither the elected political will, nor the willingness of the public exist, to endure the MASSIVE poverty, depression and upheaval that would result.

    Politics is no more stupid than the public, which is to say, exceedingly stupid. To wish otherwise is to wish to turn a “sow’s ear into a silk purse”.

    ”The cloture vote in the Senate shows in the starkest terms that 25 of the Senate Republicans associate their interests with a continuation of the Democrats’ status quo.”

    Far more than 25 of the Senate’s 46 Republicans (and in the House as well) associate their interests with a continuation of the status quo but it is not the democrats whom they support, rather it is the interests of Republican big donors, who do NOT support conservative small government, constitutional principles. They support maintenance of the financial status quo, the enhancement of the highly regulated capitalism they favor and the continuance of their political influence.

    ”We can’t let these people be our leaders any longer. That is the element of this whole mix that it is within the power of conservative activists to change.”

    Other than minimally, without MASSIVE amounts of money, it is NOT within the power of conservative activists to change the situation we face. And even with MASSIVE amounts of money it would take decades to turn the tide. Unfortunately, we don’t have decades. For all of the reasons stated above, fiscal collapse is certain and coming, it is mathematically unavoidable and will occur when the powers that be run out of road to kick the fiscal can down. When that occurs, the left will seek to use that crisis as opportunity to further nutralize the Constitution and to irreversably deepen the socialization of this country.

    ”I don’t think we know yet what it will take to dethrone the GOP’s current leadership: whether it can be done within the Republican brand, or will have to take the form of a third-party surge.”

    We do know. Nothing can dethrone the GOP’s establishment leadership (there are more Boenher’s in the wings) because the GOP establishment leadership has the backing of the Republican big donors and they will only back those politicians who support their interests, which are primarily financial.

    The problem with a third party in modern America is funding. It takes MASSIVE amounts of money to win national office and conservatives don’t have that kind of money. Where is the conservative ‘George Soros’? The Tea Party, the natural third party, has discovered this truth and that more than any other factor is why its growth has atrophied.

    This is the situation we face and there are no easy answers. Just as the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, so too do we need to face the situation squarely, so as to stop digging even deeper, the hole within which we find ourselves.

    • The great thing about Cruz’s performance on Obamacare, and subsequent DC’s shutdown theatrics, isn’t so much about the immediate impact… but about what Rand Paul parlays this into down the line politically…

      Something tells me Paul will have enough publicity to get the message out to the voters. Whether it’s enough to oust the decadent establishment GOP leadership and go on to win the 2016 election remains to be seen. If I had to hazard a guess right now, I think he will go all the way.

      PS
      Nice to see your posts again GB

      • My early enthusiasm for (well prior to her VP nomination) and subsequent disappointment in Sarah Palin’s political reception has disabused me of the notion that personal appeal automatically translates into wider acceptance. IMO, Rand Paul’s appeal is similarly limited. I cannot agree that Paul has any chance whatsoever of winning the 2016 nomination, much less the election.

        More importantly, no Republican, Conservative, Libertarian or combination of those labels can ‘get the message out’ to the low information voters… past the MSM’s stranglehold on information. And it is the low information, liberal/independent voters who are the critical swing votes in any national election.

        In addition, those low information, liberal/independent voters have been indoctrinated into the emotional memes of the left. What this means is perhaps best illustrated by paraphrasing Ben Franklin’s observation that reason is a poor tool in countering emotion based demands; When one person’s premises differ from another’s and the other person has reached their POV through emotion, reason advanced from the different premise is entirely insufficient to persuade the other person.

        Add to that the left’s utter disregard for truth and honesty and “Reason is poor propaganda when opposed by the yammering, unceasing lies of shrewd, evil and self-serving men. The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.” R.A. Heinlein

        Where does this leave us? Watching a gullible, naive and ignorant American public trade liberty with its inherent risks and rewards for the false chimera of security. Both Heinlein and Franklin commented upon aspects of this as well; “when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—and the barbarians enter Rome.” “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” “The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of “loyalty” and “duty.” Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute— get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed.”

  6. Always good to see you here, GB. I tend to agree with you that Rand Paul’s personal appeal will be limited. Personal appeal is always limited, as witness the meteoric rise and fall of each of the challengers to Mitt Romney in the 2012 primaries.

    Voters can tend to project their own hopes and assumptions onto political figures — recent instances including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and even the not-yet-political figure of Ben Carson — and then suffer a revulsion when the figure turns out to be a flawed human who misjudges an issue or even just can’t control everything that happens.

    Break break

    What you call a difference of analysis between us, I call a difference of perspective. Pessimism is not analysis, any more than optimism is. It’s an a priori perspective. It informs analysis, as optimism does. In matters of human patterns and politics, it functions principally to foreclose possibilities: to assume them away, rather than demonstrating their impossibility.

    I understand, that, where I see remaining possibilities, you are certain that they don’t exist. I get that, so we need not rehash it. If either your proposition or mine were empirically demonstrable, I think we would actually agree. The reason we don’t agree — to the extent that we don’t; I certainly don’t argue that America’s current situation is problem-free or without towering challenges — but the reason we don’t agree is that what differs is our perspectives.

    That said, the central question I have for you is what I am supposed to do with the conclusion that we are doomed. Where is there to go? What is there to do? What way is there to live, without hope?

    These are not small questions. They’re the biggest questions in life. From the larger standpoint of history, I think Americans have had a uniquely privileged perspective on these questions for the last 200-odd years. For many decades, no native-born Americans in living memory had to struggle against appalling obstacles to answer the questions. But that is a historical oddity — and it certainly wasn’t characteristic of much of the world in that same 200-odd years.

    America herself is a better thing that came from worse and more typical human conditions. We are rare, strange, and unpredictable. No one, in the year — pick one — 1770, would have predicted that within a quarter century, something like the United States of America would have existed. The odds were always against us.

    They still are. But assuming that doom is our fate has never produced a positive outcome; the only thing that ever has and ever can is assuming that what may be improbable is still possible.

    In 2013, Americans, for the first time in a long time, are having to struggle against serious obstacles to answer life’s biggest questions. That’s certainly a disappointment. It’s hard.

    But the thing is, that’s the process through which America and the modern American idea of liberty came about. Liberty and limited government are always a struggle against the odds. They are never a pattern things naturally settle into, when everybody feels good after a fine meal and a cigar. They have to be insisted on, against inertia and complacency. Always and everywhere; there is no other way to have them.

    My argument would never be that things will just fall into place for a new course for America. That’s not how things work. But there’s no future in having no hope and assuming we’re doomed. I don’t see a reason to change my perspective for one that offers me nothing of value.

  7. I disagree intensely with both J.E. and G.B. on several points, the most crucial one that I am much more optimistic about both the American people and, yes even the dreaded “Republican Establishment” and am very confident that my optimism is based on a realistic rather than naive appreciation of the current political and economic circumstances.

    My greatest current sources of frustration, by far, are some of the activities of the Cruz, talk radio, bloggers and the like. I absolutely LOATH the ACA and most other “innovations” of recent years and am nearly certain that they can be reversed but believe that those aforementioned activities have done the most in the previous month to prevent that from happening.

    1) The Campaign
    I appreciate the Thermopylae and Alamo metaphors but have always though t of ObamaCare more in terms of the Napoleonic and Nazi invasions of Russia. The latter in part because of the satisfaction one takes of the very high density artillery barrage of Berlin that ended that campaign but the former might be even more apt in the current situation. If we take the entire growth of Napoleon’s Empire as the Obama presidency (yeah, I know, the gulf in ability and accomplishment is quite beyond calculation) then the implementation of Ocare might fairly be considered as a final but very difficult challenge in the completion of that empire. That is to say a situation where the Empire is very powerful but is embarking on a task it cannot accomplish and can escape from only by the grace of the unbelievable and comprehensive incompetence of its opponent.

    To draw out the analogy, what Cruz is attempting to do is comparable to the Russian Army engaging the Grand Armée at the Neman in repeated frontal attacks. It had 1/3 (???) the number of significantly less capable and at the tactical and operational level much less well led forces. It would have been completely destroyed and left the country completely at Napoleon’s disposal (subject to the vast spaces and partisan resistance but still entirely devoid of even a minimally functional fighting force). The reality of the White House, the Senate and the media doom such attacks to certain failure. The nonsensical “defund” campaign coupled with repeated, vicious and almost psychotic attacks on any Republican at odds with this approach while at the same time almost completely ignoring DEMOCRATS in Red States who actually perpetrated this monstrosity has the effect of coupling those futile
    frontal attacks with mass executions of traitors and deserters opposed to this “strategy”, thus destroying the defending army that much more quickly . (Okay, were mixing campaign metaphors as this is just about precisely what Stalin did at the beginning of Barbarossa)

    History and common sense dictate something completely different: to wit, well planned and deliberate retreat and well targeted flank attacks as the enemy army advances, eventually attacks on lines of communication and finally engagement against a weakened Grand Armée deep on Russian soil. In this case this approach would call for a delay in the Individual Mandate coupled with the explicit prohibition of the completely lawless Congressional Exception. The public dislike (to a large extent hates) the ACA but it is in particular opposed to the IM (support, depending on phrasing ranges from 12 to 30% and 94% oppose the CE when told about it (nearly 60% are unaware. This would have been extremely favorable terrain and if pursued with coherence and unity might actually succeeded or if had failed, would at l forcing the Democrats to continually and repeatedly defend themselves on these issues would have functioned as 10 if not hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising against Red State Dems in 2014 and 2016. Such a coherent and unified approach on this issues would have (quite possibly very easily) penetrated the Dem media advantage. As is, the Cruz approach has taken attention off these issues and helped focus it on Republican divisions. The better media environment this would have created would have helped keep the House “moderates” in line.

    The disadvantages of this approach are of course obvious as well: you give up large swaths of native territory to a violent army that advances pillaging, raping and burning on the way. Still, it does preserve an excellent chance of ultimate victory rather than dramatically reducing it by the idiotic frontal attacks, which is where we are now.

    2) The Establishment
    The attacks on the “R Establishment have been appalling and, to a very large extent, unfair. I will certainly not offer an utterly impossible denial of the excessive corruption, fear and complacency with which it is infected. Yet I think suggesting that VOTING FOR CLOTURE somehow equals acquiescence to Obamacare is absurd. The many and extreme defects of the bill are ostentatiously obvious to any but left wing fanatics/violent democratic partisans and the most profoundly ignorant and stupid. As a policy matter there is no question that well over 95% of Congressional Rs would repeal if there were a Republican president and Senate to actually carry it out. The extreme unpopularity of the law creates the opportunity (and opportunity certain to grow in the wake of its disastrous implementation and effects on the economy and health care system) for them to gain that power (and surely you’ll admit that they want this power) and the mandate and political incentive to repeal. To accuse Ron Johnson or even Mitch McConnell (I am genuinely outraged by the slander of conflating him with JOHN McCAIN?????!!!!!, J.E.?????!!!!!) being “For Obamacare” simply because they voted for cloture is analogous to accusing Kutuzov of wanting not merely to give in to Napoleon’s demands but to depose Alexander I and install Napoleon as the new Czar without a fight-maybe a slight exaggeration, but only a slight one).

    I don’t AT ALL disagree that the The Establishment lacked a plan of their own, the they needed the animating spirit of the Tea Party and perhaps the leadership of a Ted Cruz to embrace and vigorously pursue even the plan I suggested. Still, what was required of Ted Crus was the Coup d’œil to identify and formulate that plant, target D senators and lead the his “Senior” colleagues (some animated by stasis and peak, to be sure) and I submit they would have followed him because this would have been a realistic plan with political advantages. As it is, he weakened R incumbents, barely touched the D Obamacare supporting Senators, diminished the reputation of the Republican party and probably/(hopefully??? – and for him no doubt most significantly) destroyed his chances of being president. The worst thing he did, however, was to help engender and agitate a spirit unrealistic expectation in the people, a spirit of violence and despair, a spirit which increases the obscene possibility of a 3rd party or low turnout, and thus makes the preservation of a Democratic Senate, a 2016 Democratic presidential victory and the survival (in some form) of Obamacare more likely.

    3) The People
    I really do not share, at all GB extremely negative view of the people. That many are indoctrinated with left wing dogma is quite beyond dispute, that many more still are profoundly ignorant in matters of public affairs is quite beyond question. He is of course right that a certain, and indeed a very large percentage will blame the flaws of Obamacare and the general economic malaise on the “rich”, “corporations”, etc. However, there remains a great deal of reason for hope. The public opinion of Ocare and other issues is dramatically to the right (and the “right” as in “correct”) of the Democratic party in spite of the ignorance and the gargantuan media and cultural advantage the D enjoy.

    The last election result, while atrocious, was not that far out of step with historical economic models. Those models tended to forecast a reelection with roughly a 2-3 point margin. Since 1896 only 1 incumbent POTUS (Hoover, an exception which only proves the rule) has lost in the absence of a primary or 3rd party challenger. The relative (to the ignorant and conditioned public) appeal of Obama, the relative lack of appeal for Romney, the unusually large media advantage and even the exceptional technical excellence of the Obama campaign and the amazing incompetence of that of Romney led to only a slight departure form historical norms.

    True, any reasonable and minimally informed person could have predicted the complete substantive failure (in terms of helping the people) in November of 2008 and the events of the 1st term should have completely destroyed the Democratic party. The state of the public makes this impossible but does not, at all, preclude the election of a Republican with a decent margin and a R Senate in 2016, a Republican who can repeal a good portion of the Obama agenda, including a complete repeal of the ACA. For this to happen, though, Republican party unity and an appealing candidate will be required. Ted Cruz helped poison the public, divided the party – and did so IN THE CONTEXT OF AN ISSUE ON WHICH THERE IS ALMOST COMPLETE UNITY AND AGREEMENT WITH THE PUBLIC and essentially ruled himself out as that candidate despite his in many way extraordinary talents and accomplishments. This seems to me quite completely incontestable.

  8. Sorry, some sort of issues with italics.😦

    • I think I got everything, cavalier. You were missing the forward slant — / — in the closing html code. It goes just before the i or b, etc.

      The annoyance of having to get the markings correct in sequence keeps me from trying to use them in comments. My apologies for not being able to offer an automated method for readers. You can’t add a plug-in with my WordPress service.

  9. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, cavalier. I’m having trouble finding common ground with you, which I find interesting and informative. The GOP really is seriously divided over this crisis point in America’s affairs.

    For example, I don’t see how it can rationally be insisted that a vote for cloture in the Senate was NOT a vote to allow implementation of Obamacare on the Democrats’ terms.

    The one mark-up Harry Reid was going to permit post-cloture was the measure in the CR to proceed with Obamacare on the Democrats’ terms. He could do that with a simple majority; it was cloture he required Republican votes for. Whatever the nominal reason the 25 Republicans had for voting for cloture, the EFFECT of their vote was to ensure that the Senate-passed CR would include measures to implement Obamacare on the Democrats’ terms.

    One can’t point to any other plan and say that that’s the Senate Republicans’ plan to delay or inhibit the implementation of Obamacare. Giving them all possible benefit of the doubt, there simply isn’t any way to affirm that they have a plan in that regard — certainly not that they had one at the time of the cloture vote.

    Rather, the cloture vote appeared to be an open-ended choice to favor legislative procedure, which cedes all points to the majority party in the chamber, without any objective beyond that.

    It seems your suggestion is that what the GOP plan SHOULD be is a scorched-earth retreat, like the Russian forces’ before Napoleon’s Grande Armee. One can’t really set aside the factors that tend to stretch the analogy, such as the point that geography and weather can be calculated with greater certainty than political conditions can. But supposing we did set them aside, there is still the enormous problem of who has to absorb the pain from the scorched-earth strategy.

    Much has always been made of the destruction of Napoleon’s army in the Russia expedition. But destroying his army required slashing and burning everything in the most populous part of Russia, meaning that something like 2 million Russians not only saw their livelihoods and ancestral legacies go up in flames, but were displaced for decades, and even for the rest of their lives, never recovering what they had once had.

    The devastation to the Russian farmers and merchants was on an unbelievable scale. Napoleon’s soldiers weren’t the only ones dying of starvation and exposure in frozen ditches. Whole towns were erased from the map, great feudal farms with settled ways wiped out forever. The social and economic disruption of 1812-13 was a cataclysm the “old Russian” heartland never recovered from. It permanently transformed the dynamics and spirit of Russian politics, seeding them — in particular with a dispossessed demographic of newly landless peasants — for the periodic “revolutions” in the century that followed.

    In terms of how politically transformative it will be to implement Obamacare on the Democrats’ terms, I do think the scorched-earth analogy has some validity. Three years will be long enough to give the program the toehold it needs, not only to swell its enrollment among the already-dependent, but to create a whole lot more dispossessed Americans. By 2016, according to the implementation schedule, the burden of it will be crushing, on small businesses and the fully-employed and self-sustaining. Three years is more than enough time for Obamacare to undo the full-time employment model by which Americans operate households independent of government subsidies. All we have to do to get to that point is obey the law as written.

    I can’t see it as irresponsible to try to fight the implementation of Obamacare in pitched battle, as opposed to using the scorched-earth retreat. This is not to say that Ted Cruz (or anyone else) has found the perfect ground on which to wage the pitched battle. If the battle is lost — if the individual mandate can’t even be delayed — then we’ll be stuck with the scorched-earth retreat. It will happen without any actual “planning” on the part of the GOP.

    We will be no worse off, however, with Ted Cruz having made his stand. The scorched-earth retreat cannot be made worse than it’s going to be. It is literally impossible to make it worse; we will suffer badly, period, and find our future redirected in ways we can’t even imagine right now. To me, that cost is too high to simply accept without a fight. We lose nothing by trying to fight it now and at least get a few concessions, if that’s possible.

    Not fighting it may not bring changes to the living conditions and life prospects of members of Congress, or the very rich. But it will bring utterly transformative changes to everyone else.

    Things aren’t scheduled to get drastically worse, on paper, in 2014; it will start out small, and those who are inclined to insist that current attitudes will see us through will point out that it hasn’t been that bad. But the truth is, it’s already bad. Businesses are already warning us how bad it is, and how much worse it will get.

    Supposing the GOP does retake the Senate, I foresee another crisis point at which some Republicans want to do whatever it takes to keep Obama from assuming executive powers and just doing whatever he wants — e.g., impeach him, provoke a genuine crisis of government — and others don’t want to fight that pitched battle because of the optics of it, as perceived through the lens of the mainstream media. Obama won’t suffer himself to simply be hamstrung by congressional opposition. As with his other executive actions, he will do as much as possible by fiat. The people, in our individual capacities, are each too small and vulnerable to fight the IRS.

    In either case — retaking the Senate or not — it won’t be the same American people voting in 2016. Complacency about the prospect of the scorched earth that will come with Obamacare is something I just can’t have. It does not look to me like a wise strategy, but only like one we may not be able to avoid.


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