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Blair Wins; Third Way Loses How Much Ruthlessness is Enough?

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After the Battle: Don't Raise Taxes

by Christopher Chantrill
May 16, 2005 at 1:32 pm


THE CRITICS of the president in the mainstream media are shocked to discover that, after the first 100 days of his second administration, he is stuck in a quagmire. They note his declining popularity, the losing fight over Social Security, the “controversial” Bolton nomination, the gridlock over the judicial filibuster, and the continuing death toll from Iraq. But they are judging the president by the standards of the Clinton administration.

President Clinton and his team wanted to build a “legacy.” President Bush, on the other hand, wants to get things done. When you want to get things done, you sometimes have to fight for them, and the president has chosen the year of 2005 for a great political battle. He has decided to fight the Democrats over the issue of appeals court judges and is bringing the issue of the judicial filibuster to a trial of strength in the U.S. Senate. On top of that he is assembling his forces to challenge the Democrats to the right to define the future of Social Security.

His decision means that, for the time being, the political armies of the nation will not be marching, advancing and retreating, but will be deployed upon the field of battle and beating each other’s brains out. This is what liberals call a quagmire.

During a battle it is tempting to stop everything and watch the spectacle, the shells arcing high above the political battlefield before plunging with an eerie scream and a clump into the fortified lines of the opposed armies. But let us step back and think about the possible outcomes from the battle.

If President Bush wins the judicial filibuster fight, then Republicans will be able to get some traction in their attempt to reform the judicial branch. Judges may well “get the message” and lay off implementing the liberal agenda. Democrats will use their defeat to flog their base into a frenzy of rage, not that it isn’t already convinced that the United States is a right-wing fascist state of the kind imagined by Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale.

If President Bush loses the filibuster fight and the judges respond by continuing unabashed in their liberal activist ways, then Democrats will think they have won a famous victory. But Republicans will gain as liberals drive another sector of the old New Deal coalition into the Republican camp. This is the 15 percent of registered voters identified by The Pew Research Center as “Conservative Democrats.” These new recruits would be the Democrats that didn’t care enough when the judges banned school prayer, didn’t feel it mattered enough when the Supreme Court found penumbras in the constitution that mandated abortion on demand, but are finally going to care when the judges redefine marriage to include same-sex and polyamorous relationships. If you are wondering what “polyamorous” means, it refers to the kind of sexual activity that used to horrify liberals when practiced by right-wing Mormons over a century ago in the territory of Utah.

In the Social Security fight, the president occupies another can’t-lose position. If he can get the camel’s nose of private accounts under the tent, then he has won a great victory, the first step in the march to lead Americans from their present over-dependency upon government to the sunny green uplands of self-governance and independence. In financial matters Americans would learn to have more faith in neighbor Vanguard and golfing buddy Fidelity than in good old Uncle Sam, especially when the poor old chap gets confused about just where he put all those Social Security IOUs. If Bush loses, then who cares? Social Security is the Democrats’ problem. Like General Motors and the major airlines, Democrats have promised far more to their stakeholders than they can possibly deliver. Sooner or later, like GM’s retirees and the employees of the bankrupt United Airlines, rank-and-file Democrats are going to be sorely disappointed. It ought to be Democrats that disappoint them.

There is one thing that President Bush must not do, and that is raise taxes. The great federal spending programs: Social Security, Medicare, education, social services—these are all designed by Democrats to benefit Democrats. It’s the payoff from sixty years of effective control of Congress. Why should the Republicans raise taxes and pull the Democrats’ chestnuts out of the fire?

Let the Democrats raise taxes. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life,” they’ll croak, recalling President Clinton’s famous line in 1993, as they raise taxes—on Republicans, of course. The experience will be salutary for all those entrepreneurial Americans who feel too embarrassed about the Bible thumpers of the Religious Right to vote for the party of low taxes and personal freedom. There is nothing like a hit in the pocketbook to help a fellow overcome a little thing like anti-religious bigotry.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican

Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District

Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State

Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050

Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph

Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion

Government Expenditure

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Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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