“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Politics is a Dirty Game

How do you get the stains out?

How do you tell the teams apart? It's becoming increasingly hard for the casual observer to know who's who and what each political party represents. Everyone wants to run the same style of offense and to wear the same color uniform - white or black. Which is to say, no color at all or a mix of everything.

Distinctions are blurred as out-of-power parties repackage themselves for increased market share. Advertising themselves as "New and Improved" and promising to get "Whites whiter and colors brighter. They'll get the toughest dirt and stains out of politics." I hear you saying, "Yeah right!" But, scoff all you want, the voters are buying it. In Australia, the Tide turned against John Howard and the public opted for a Fresh Start. Towards the end of their election campaign we learned there was some "dirt" in Howard's government. We don't know much about Mr. Rudd yet but the public are willing to give him a go and hope for a financial security Gain.

In the UK, Tony Blair had just about worn out his welcome with the British people so he handed off to Gordon Brown who had done an admirable job with the economy while serving as Blair's Chancellor of the Exchequer. Brown was handpicked by Blair and the party to become the next Prime Minister which, if you think about it, is similar to what Putin is doing in Russia. Nah, not really, Putin wants to become a Rasputin or a Czar and Blair wants to martyr himself before middle-eastern assassins. Anyway, Mr. Brown became Prime Minister and his principal opposition, the Tory party, led by David Cameron, is as large a group of atrophied, 95-pound weaklings as you'll ever see. Labor, a veteran squad lead by Gordon Brown took the field and seemed to be "hitting on all cylinders" while the Tories, as usual, were their own worst enemies. Thinking they had the game "wrapped up", Labor leaders let it be known that Brown would call elections for early next year but then the ball took some strange bounces. The momentum shifted to the Tories and not another word was heard from Brown and Company about elections. This did not go down well with the public, the Tory party or the British media who turned on their former darlings. Now, everyday throws new dirt on Labor. The scandal du jour involves an anonymous 300,00 pound donation to Labor and should debunk the notion that publically funded British elections are the preferred detergent for getting the dirt out of elections. Unlike the American media's lack of interest in Mrs. Clinton's fund raising foibles, the British media are tirelessly working Labor on the scrub board. Meanwhile, the weakling Tories are making a "come back" as the BBC declares the Labor "has beens are washed up."

In another part of the world, the political pitch in Pakistan is in such a muddle that it is impossible for the casual observer to tell one player from another. The General President Pervez Musharraf is no longer the General, but now merely the President running the courts and for "reelection." Benazir Bhutto and the President, who seemed to be making cozy, have apparently had a falling out and it may not be long before they are airing their dirty laundry in the tabloids even as another dingy character, Nawaz Shariff, makes his reentrance on the pitch. We'll see in January if the Paki public decides to throw out all the dirty old rags and put on the new clothing of Islamic fundamentalism.

Closer to home, we're a year away from laundry day and the uniforms are just beginning to get muddy.


  1. AP--

    Idaho Senator Larry Craig... said a(global warming) bill pushed by Barbara Boxer would cost thousands of jobs and "demonstrate nothing more than her intent to revert the United States to a developing country."

    Boxer has scheduled a vote next week on a global warming bill that would impose mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities.

    Craig said in an op-ed piece that Boxer "hopes to strike a symbolic victory for Europeans everywhere".

    In addition to raising energy costs, the bill "would export what's left of our manufacturing jobs" and is "all pain, no gain."

    Boxer and Craig may be able to debate the bill in Bali, where both are scheduled to attend a United Nations conference next week on climae change.

    Craig, who has attended three previous U.N. climate conferences, said he expects a familiar scene: "Senator Boxer will be welcomed as the liberator, and Al Gore will probably receive another award, but in the end, the only impact the conference will have will be the pollution and consumption they all create in traveling to Bali in the first place."

    Well, Bali beats Idaho in the winter, that's for sure.

  2. Politics is a Dirty Game.

    - whit

    Don't actively encourage it by voting.

    - trish

    Every decent man is ashamed of his own government.

    - Mencken

  3. Politics is an illusion of service that cloaks the corruption of power

    Politics is everywhere. Even entering Heaven you need to know Someone!

    Politics is occupational therapy for the morally handicapped.

    Politics is stealing from the many and giving to the few.

    Politics is the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

    Politics is how who gets what when, and why.

  4. At ten, an animal.

    At twenty, a lunatic.

    At thirty, a failure.

    At forty, a fraud.

    At fifty, a criminal.

    At sixty, an advisor.

    At seventy, realizing one has been mis-understood, one keeps quiet and is taken for a sage.

    At eighty, one knows ones ground, and stands firm.

  5. A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.

    In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Democrat.

    A good politician under democracy is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

    H.L. Mencken

  6. Wherefore being all of one mind, we do highly resolve that government of the grafted by the grafter for the grafter shall not perish from the earth

    Mark Twain

  7. "We've got to protect our phony-baloney jobs, gentlemen!"

    - Mel Brooks
    Blazing Saddles

    Quick, someone dig up their Twain. (My favorites bits of commentary are from Roughing It.) Mencken and Twain: One cannot go wrong.

  8. I'll be damned.

    Bob beat me to it.

  9. Bob slipped in a hidden test for Trish, if she can find it, lover of Mencken.

  10. Doug, previous thread:

    Florida’s tomato growers have long faced pressure to reduce operating costs; one way to do that is to keep migrant wages as low as possible. Although some of the pressure has come from increased competition with Mexican growers, most of it has been forcefully applied by the largest purchaser of Florida tomatoes: American fast food chains that want millions of pounds of cheap tomatoes as a garnish for their hamburgers, tacos and salads.

    Sat Dec 01, 03:37:00 PM EST

    If Americans would only go back to eating REAL tomatoes instead of those rock-hard impostors bred for storing and cold shipping that the state of Florida's Tomato Mafia has foisted upon the country like a plague...well, we'd all be the better for it.

  11. At this point, bob, he would undoubtedly agree with you - and his own, original declaration, both.

  12. Here's one that makes some sense--

    The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia. -- Otto Van Bismarck

  13. Politics gives guys so much power that they tend to behave badly around women. And I hope I never get into that. -- Bill Clinton

    Hope springs eternal.

  14. I'll hold up the Heinlein standards:

    "Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire." -Robert Heinlein

  15. Wasn't Heinlein at some point a compulsory national service advocate, cutler? His Starship Trooper days, maybe? He was, then he wasn't. Or he wasn't, but then he was. Talk about your control issues. Compulsory national service types bug the hell out of me. (That would include Dear Host, but I'm not picking a fight with the verrry tolerant Management of this joint.)

  16. There is something fascinating about science.
    One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture
    out of such a trifling investment of fact.

    Mark Twain.
    Life on the Mississippi

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Starship Troopers and Heinlein, however, were also about much more than just that idea.

  19. He also, surprisingly, looks almost exactly like one of my grandfathers (I look like the other).

  20. Sorry, my posting above screwed up:

    "Wasn't Heinlein at some point a compulsory national service advocate, cutler? His Starship Trooper days, maybe? He was, then he wasn't. Or he wasn't, but then he was. Talk about your control issues. Compulsory national service types bug the hell out of me. (That would include Dear Host, but I'm not picking a fight with the verrry tolerant Management of this joint.)"

    No. He was for a volunteer military. Starship Troopers (which is nothing like the movie, for the record) promoted an all-volunteer Federal Service (including military), which was supposed to be a mechanism for people to earn their ability to vote.

    There were three classes of people: citizens, civilians, and people on active duty. Only citizens had the right to vote or hold public office. Fundamentally, Heinlein believed that votes or political decisions are best made by individuals who have previously made difficult decisions and shown an ability to look beyond their own personal selfishness, to an extent.

    To quote the wiki page,

    "Within the framework of his science fiction stories Heinlein repeatedly integrated recognizable social themes: The importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress non-conformist thought."

    But there's also a lot more than that in it. At heart, he was someone who didn't allow himself to be ideological pigeonholed or dogmatic.