Few thinkers were more different than David Hume and Immanuel Kant. One was a cynical, whiskey swilling Scot bon vivant and realist who enjoyed making people crazy with paradoxes in the pursuit of truth through dialogue, discussion and debate. The other was a German metaphysicist and idealist influenced by Pietism and theology. Yet, Kant read Hume, and re-examined his own thought based on what he'd encountered, writing that "Hume awakened me from my doctrinal slumbers..." We all need to find our own David Hume sometime...
Jack Brown and I started corresponding after he read a piece of mine at the Defeatists. We actually inhabited the same universe for a while in Germany in the 70s when I was a wiseass buck sergeant with 69th ADA Group in Wurzburg and Jack was a freshly minted Lieutenant in an Armor Battalion at Illesheim. After stumbling on The Defeatists, Jack sent me a funny story in response to a comment I made about channeling Hunter S. Thompson; he had discovered HST while pulling staff duty one weekend and finding a copy of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972 in the desk. He credited it with opening up a totally different universe to him…which is what great writers do.
Jack saw the “Starve the Beast” piece on-line and it struck a chord with him. It’s a fairly concise summary of how we got where we are. I will stipulate that a lot of Democrats went along for parts of and, in a few cases, most of the funhouse ride. However, if I happen to be on your bus when you drive it off the cliff, I’m wrong for being on the bus, but you’re the dumb bastard that drove the bus off the cliff…so, while not balanced, this is a fair and accurate summary. Now, we’re both probably dead, but let’s at least get the facts straight for the after action review and to get the lessons learned straight for posterity.
Jack decided to put this thing on Facebook. Like a lot of people, I use Facebook because there are a lot of people in my life who don’t read blogs, write emails, read emails and figure that the best part of communication is social media. I hate that – Facebook is largely adds disguised as notes from friends, but it’s rapidly degenerating into pure flackery, but I use it. Because of his particular social network, he discovered it provoked a number of comments. Including a number from me. One of the reasons for my hesitance to accept the existence of Facebook and belief that it is not a great way to communicate lies in the fact that the audience is actually pretty limited. There may only be 7 degrees of separation between us, but some of those cover pretty large gaps. Blogs, if read, allow those of us bitching and commentating to reach a broader audience. I thought that the discussion was worth opening to a broader reading public. I asked, and Jack agreed that the dialogue makes one point – it is possibly to strongly disagree and yet still communicate. What doesn’t help move us forward is the reliance on talking points. They’re fine to serve as “RESOLVED:..”to start the debate, but they don’t prove themselves. The discussion is what fills in the spaces. And, there is a difference between discussion and debate as opposed to dialogue. Dialogue requires respect. You can see it in the comments here…wish I’d see more of it in our public discourse. However, dialogue, discussion and debate require complex ideas and complex argument…so, resulting to catch phrases and outright lies is easier. For listener and speaker – it’s just really bad for truth, justice and the American way.
Here it is, unedited and as written by the contributors except for one brief metaphor. The only actual names that appear are Jack’s and mine. I got his permission but didn’t get it from the other contributors, who are all part of Jack’s extended network.
KSA: I don't know how people sleep at night. Well...very comfortably, I'm sure.
JACK BROWN They can't live without their cognitive dissonance.
PCB oh my god.....they really have no shame, no cares for anyone else, just greed.
J.F Jack you got the parties reversed!
MC FARRELL Succinct and to the point --
HWC Jack... where did you find this nonsense???? Jimmy is correct.... you're confused....
JP @Jimmy and Harold - you have to read before you comment. There is no debate about any of these points.
HWC Not sure what JP means.... I read the Washington Post and the Washington Times every day.... Plenty of debate... I am well versed on DC politics.... Did anybody catch that the Post even acknowledged that the administration had cooked the books to come up with a statistic that showed he wasn't the big spender he really is.... got any shovel ready projects? got any green industry companies that the gov't can loan money to before they go bankrupt?
HWC One of the problems with spending other people's money is that eventually the other people run out of money..... how many wealthy people have changed their state of residency from NY to FL? Which has high income taxes and which has none? I want an Obama value meal, I'll order what ever I want and you can pay for it....
JACK BROWN This poster hit a nerve, I will reply to the points made either tonite late or tomorrow, as I am a little under the weather (nothing serious). And remember all, we may disagree, but we are all Americans and just about all of us are veterans…Harold, Jimmy, MC Farrell and I, US Army, Jack Pryor US Navy, and thus we swore to put our butts on the line to protect our constitution.
tuned for the detailed response!
MC FARRELL Starve the beast is Grover Norquist -- Republican.
Although the centrist Dems went along, the de-regulation and tax cuts were all done by the Bush administration. Cheney said Reagan proved deficits don't matter which is odd since Reagan and Bush I both raised taxes. Economy didn't start rolling for most people until Clinton era which coincided with new tax rates.
Unfunded wars started by Dems? Not really -- in fact, the Bush administration chose to not put the Iraq or Afghanistan wars on the budget which resulted in lousy oversight and during the Hastert and Trent Lott eras resulted in lots of fraud. Ask anyone remotely honest and not on any kind of bizarre bonus plan about oversight at Haliburton, et. al.
MC FARRELL Bailouts happened primarily under the Bush administration because Hank Paulson and the President's economic advisers convinced the world that it was the only thing between us and takeover by the Lycians, or the Chinese or somebody. What minimal oversight that was applied to TARP I and II was brought about by either Democratic stonewalling or by the Obama administration. The Obama team could and should have put a lot of bastards in jail and hasn't done so. Had McCain and Palin won and the Tea Party controlled the Senate as well as the House, the Wall Street Gang would have all gotten Medals of Freedom.
MC FARRELL During the Obama administration, the Wall-Streeters have pretty consistently paid the government back because of the threat of more oversight. Which is desperately needed, of course -- the JP Morgan Chase mess is clearly a case in point but there are lots more.
MC FARRELL The fiscal spiral was not intentional. Nobody is that stupid -- it's still a very close run thing, but what the hell. The idea that deficits don't matter that was Cheney and Laffler think so long as the deficits resulted from tax cuts and not expenditures was one one flush of the drain; the idea that derivatives and securitization were good ideas and that bet hedging and risk management could make cow shit into filet mignon was another; the reluctance to accept the Willie Sutton Axiom (Go where the money is!) on taxes is another, and probably at this point the liquid plumber further speeding the fiscal spiral down the drain. Opposed to it we have slightly though still insufficient demand and what the fed is able to do. There are lots of other things that can be done but they largely require spending. Not happening with the logjam in Congress.
MC FARRELL As for the last point, you have a Speaker of the House who will not keep his word because his minions won't support him and he doesn't want to go to Nancy Pelosi for any votes. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell has openly admitted and when offered the opportunity to walk it back, re-affirmed that his legislative priority is purely political -- defeat the President. Not by being smarter or coming up with better policy ideas but by stopping everything. Now, historically, the Senate has been able to find ways to cooperate and the idea that a Speaker of the House would shake hands and agree with the President and the Majority Leader only to renege is pretty much unthinkable. But it happens continually with the current crop in the House and Senate. Henry Clay, Sam Rayburn, and Tip O’Neil are sitting in a bar in heaven, drinking copiously along with Polk, Eisenhower and Reagan. (ADDED AS I WAS EDITING BECAUSE I CAN AND SHOULD HAVE PUT IT IN ORIGINALLY.)
MC FARRELL John Wayne said after the election of John Kennedy," I hope he does well; I didn't vote for hm but he's our president and I wish him success." How do you think he'd react to this sort of crap? How would Barry Goldwater, Howard Baker, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, or Harry Truman react? Off the record, how do you think GHW Bush and spouse would react? Hell, how would Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge react to what is a continuing display of bad faith, broken promises -- the road to job creation runs through defunding Planned Parenthood? Seriously? Or saying that Hawaii forged the President's Birth Certificate? Really? -- and plain old fashioned bullshit.
MC FARRELL Had people showed up at Bush events to protest with guns, would the R's have defended their second amendment rights? Pure racism, pure political expediency.
MC FARRELL The Democrats aren't any blushing virgin's prayer; granted. But, when you have one plain old fashioned really bad choice -- let's just let the banks and Wall Street self-regulate and let the market figure it out! Let's go to war with Iran! Our last Persian Gulf war turned out sooooo well. Let's invade Syria! We achieved the strategic goal in Libya but we should have had boots on the ground! -- and one that at least makes mathematical sense, are based in fact and reality and are not more of the same policy that got us here, it's pretty obvious. You know what you call the least bad alternative -- the right choice!
JACK BROWN So now, Harry and Jimmy, we posted our thoughts.. Please point out just where we are "Confused".
JACK BROWN My last post makes no sense as it appears that Facebook failed to record the long discussion posted before it...it follows..
Well, looks like being under the weather "saved" me from making a series of long posts that MC has made, and very well argued they are. The only addition I would make is this...
on "Starting Wars"... We didn't start the War with Afghanistan, the Taliban tried to hide our enemies and refused to turn them over.. We had to go into Afghanistan. Among my major beefs with W is NOT closing the deal in Afghanistan, rather, pivoting to go into Iraq after nonexistent WMD. For not listening to the CS/Army Shinseki, who said it would take 300K plus troops to SECURE Iraq. For Rumsfeld trashing a year + of work that the State Department, Marine Corps, and Army War College made on how to PROPERLY occupy Iraq (See "Blinded into Baghdad" by James Fallows). For NOT doing the spending to protect our troops with Body Armor and armored vehicles once they got there. Most of all, for the tragic loss of over 5000 soldiers, and the serious wounding of thousands more.
Another serious failure was throwing away so much of the world support the US received after 9/11. It is hard to remember now, but right after 9/11 almost the entire world was on our side and had little or no problem with our going into Afghanistan. Hell, IRAN was helping us with intell on the Taliban (who they had problems with). But then came the "Axis of Evil" Speech, and then the attack on Iraq…Except for the UK, our NATO allies thought we had lost our minds. Bush's "My Way or the Highway" and preemptive war polices alienated most of the world.. and to top it off, the incompetency of Rumsfeld, et al, on fighting the war. Had we spent a tenth of what we have spent on Iraq in Afghanistan at the beginning, I think Afghanistan would be in much better shape than the almost basket case it is now. We had a chance to stabilize the situation there, instead we pulled out the SF Group in Afghanistan (that was specialized in the Middle East and SW Asia) to send them to the Iraq build up, and spent far too little on Afghanistan. The SF group that was then sent to Afghanistan were Latin America experts. Geez…
A final straw (for me) was throwing away decades of good will towards the US by "legalizing" torture and ill treatment of prisoners in Iraq. Abu Gharib gave Al Qada THOUSANDS of recruits due to the Cheney policy of torture. (CIA estimate). My father literally fought the Nazis, in North Africa, and later was wounded during the Normandy campaign. I grew up knowing that the Nazis and evil Commies were the torturers and brainwashers of this world, that the US and its military were the "good guys". Not anymore, now we are just as much SOB's as North Korea in the war crimes department, at least as far as most of the world thinks. During Vietnam, we court martialed and put in Leavenworth US soldiers who waterboarded VC, now, Cheney and the neocons crow about it...
I hope that we get some dialogue going on this discussion. Madison and Hamilton and Jay didn’t agree on much, but they agreed on the fundamental idea of the constitution and through their reluctant collaboration produced The Federalist Papers. They didn’t agree with all of the document, they didn’t agree to disagree with the same parts of it, but they agreed to the fundamental ground rules of reasoned discourse and for lack of a better word, politesse. You see, Mick Jagger was almost right in Sympathy for the Devil: “If you meet me have some courtesy and some sympathy and some grace/ use all you well-learned politesse or I’ll lay your soul to waste!” I think it would have been perfect had the lyrics been “You’ll lay your soul to waste…”
Jefferson and Adams were very different people – Jefferson at times was so icy and removed he seems in 21st century hindsight to have been almost autistic in some of his human interactions, so calculating and geometric in his thinking. Adams was a polar opposite – driven by passion, maybe bi-polar, maybe just unrestrained. And yet, they collaborated throughout their careers and engaged in a long, friendly and yet argumentative dialogue after they left office. I think our public discourse and individual discussions can benefit greatly from eliminating as much of the rabble rousing as possible. And, I say that as an unrepentant rabble rouser – we can argue about ideas and policies but we should all strive to get along well enough to hear each other, think about our response, and strive to present it at least as well as two dying founders did with quill in hand 200 years ago.