advice from a fake consultant

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

On Smarter Voting, Or, It's Time To Toss Those Old, Cold, Freedom Fries

The United States.

Such a complex relationship we have.

Of course, who doesn’t gratefully recall Lafayette and the Statue of Liberty?
And who doesn’t love a glass of wine?

“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”

--Charles De Gaulle, in Ernest Mignon's “Les Mots du General

On the other hand, here we were, all ready to go invade Iraq; and here was France, in the United Nations, trying to stop us from going ahead.

“It felt comfortable to be in a country where it is so simple to make people happy...Everything is on such a clear financial basis in France. It is the simplest country to live in. No one makes things complicated by becoming your friend for any obscure reason. If you want people to like you, you have only to spend a little money.”

--Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

In the years before the invasion, Iraq had spent a little money in France, which meant in some quarters, France was the enemy.

And by God, if France was the enemy, America had to act.

“It's not ludicrous. We in the nation's capital need to send a signal. We need to tell our troops we're with you. This is symbolic. Walter knows that. I know it. But I think it's a wonderful gesture and our veterans are very proud. If somebody thinks it's ludicrous, they can go privately eat their French toast. We're going to eat our freedom toast.”

--Congressman Bob Ney (R-OH), on CNN

And with that, along came to the rescue Congressman (and, amazingly, a fluent French speaker with a French family lineage) Bob Ney (Inmate 28882-016-OH), and Congressman Walter Jones, (R-NC).

The Plan?

To save Cubby’s, and by extension, America, through Freedom Toast and Freedom Fries.

Apparently the thinking was that if we showed that dastardly France how America supports its troops, we would be propelled to victory in Iraq because our troops would know we were so strongly behind them.

Now you might say to yourselves: “selves, there’s just something fundamentally wrong with people who think like that”...and you’d be right.

Of course, Congressman Ney went and got himself caught up in the Abrahamoff scandal-but what about Walter Jones?

“I, Walter Jones, promise the voters of eastern North Carolina and the 3rd District I will not flip-flop”...

--The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, September 1st, 1994

Ex-Democratic candidate Jones made that promise to his brand-new Republican constituency just two years after losing the Primary election to fill his (Democratic) father’s own Congressional seat to Eva Clayton, who won the General and served as a Member until 2003.

After making the promise, he won his seat in North Carolina’s 3rd District in 1994 on the back of the Republican Revolution. Mother Jones quoted the Congressional Quarterly’s “Politics in America”, who described him as: "one of the unreconstructed ‘true believers' of the GOP Class of 1994."

His record suggests that he does fit that description (lots of defense, supported “reforming” bankruptcy, all “flag burning” bills, cutting student aid), more or less, and The John Birch Society (click on the “Freedom Index” link in the middle of the page) seems to like him.

Of course, it’s hard not to flip-flop sometimes.
Consider the books in your school libraries.

Now most conservatives would say local school districts should control what books local school districts buy, and that the districts should set their own policies about those purchases. Most conservatives would never support ”one-size-fits-all” Federal mandates for our local schools.

And Congressman Jones agrees.
Unless, of course, he doesn’t like the contents of the books.

That’s why he introduced legislation to require all school districts in the US to follow “certain procedures” mandated by the Federal Government before they could purchase books. Basically he wanted every school district to create “parent review councils” whether the districts wanted them or not, or he would see that the district’s Federal funding would be cut off.

So after flip-flopping from Democrat to Republican, and flip-flopping on “State’s Rights” issues, it should be no surprise that Jones has come to see what a fool he was to buy the Administration’s war stories, hook, line, and sinker-and to the great consternation of the Rs, he’s flip-flopped again.

But at least it’s in the right direction.

At the moment, his Congressional website seems to report he opposes the surge, but not withdrawal, despite his informing the Charlotte News & Observer “the US went to war “with no justification”” (is this guy a gymnast, or what?).

He has been given credit for his change of mind, but that’s not good enough for me.

I want Members of Congress to be independent thinkers who see this stuff in advance, not cheerleaders who figure out they missed the boat 3500 US lives too late.

I want a Member that can have the flexibility of mind to know in advance that they will make mistakes, will have to change position...who are, frankly, smart enough to know that they will have to flip-flop from time to time- if only because change inevitably demands it.

If I were Walter Jones, and I had to go to sleep every night thinking of those thousands of dead people I led the charge to kill, and I had to think about my role in their deaths every time I wrote letters to family members on Saturday afternoons; I think my own soul might tell me that the time had come to leave Congress.

That I had done enough damage.

That I, who had been so blind, might now see that I am not qualified to serve in a position that requires vision and good judgment.

That blind obedience to ideology, until the death toll, and the waste, and the lies behind it all shock even me is no measure of a good public servant.

And if I was voting in North Carolina’s Third District, I would never vote for Walter Jones again.

There’s no reason to support a candidate who broke his flip-flop promise so many times he probably spells it plif-polf; and next time we’ll talk about a better choice-retired Marine, and former Airport Director of Basra, Iraq’s International Airport, Marshall Adame.

I don’t know about you, but all that writing makes me hungry.
Think I’ll go have a few French Fries.

Author's Note: Although I'm in no way associated with, or compensated by his campaign, it should be fairly evident I'm an Adame supporter.


Lord Nazh© said...

So what you want is a candidate that bases his position on the polls eh?

And France didn't become 'the enemy' because Iraq 'spent some money there'. They were 'the enemy' because they were trying to block the war because of oil-for-food billions (ie. some money).

fake consultant said...

when you refer to my desire to have a candidate who bases his opinions on polls, i presume you refer to this:

"I want a Member that can have the flexibility of mind to know in advance that they will make mistakes, will have to change position...who are, frankly, smart enough to know that they will have to flip-flop from time to time- if only because change inevitably demands it."

i anticipated that question, and in respomse i would tell you you've misinterpreted my statement.

here's what i'm saying:

consider the example of forest fires. for almost 100 years we fought them relentlessly, and now we discover that this policy might be misguided. now it seems that forest fires are actually part of a forest's life cycle, and that sometimes we hurt the forest when we fight every fire.

congress might use the power of the budget to change forest service policy-but it would be a flip-flop if it did so.

that said, i would rather have a change that makes sense than a refusal to change because change is somehow inherently bad.

a second example: highways. the world of $3 gas is changing all kinds of attitudes about alternative energy, and members of congress (as well as the public) are reconsidering their former positions regarding the logic of investing in alternative energy.

are these changes of position flip-flops?
is it bad?
not automatically.

my greater point is that jones displayed a high level of naivete by making the pledge in the first place, and i would rather have someone who can admit they are not all-knowing, that they can be wrong, that they might makie mistakes, and that they may have to change their position in the future, if conditions warrant.

fake consultant said...

a clarification, and an expansion of a thought:

highways and alternative energy are related in that congress is likely to expand spending on alternative energy at the expense of highway expansion projects.

as regardds naivete: jones' personal history appears, from a distance, to be a story of total belief and commitment followed by total reversal of his previous value system.

for more on this, take a look at the mother jones article i linked and consider his "three conversions", and the effect of each on his personal psyche. in each case, he seems to have been
profoundly hurt-first by the loss of his primary election, then his reaction to the discovery that he's been used by the admninistration.

each seems to have been equally surprising and hurtful, and i would prefer a member that is more pragmatic about these things and less ideological.

Lord Trafalgar Rock Pigeon said...

...I want Members of Congress to be independent thinkers who see this stuff in advance, not cheerleaders who figure out they missed the boat 3500 US lives too late...

So good to see that dreams and fantasies stil exist.

fake consultant said...

if you think that's bad, my fantasy gets even worse...i'd like them to show vision on a range of issues-the federal defecit, patriot act repeal, climate change, energy independence and health care would be other issues that we have been unable to get traction on but require immediate attention.

don't get me wrong: ds have been asleep at the wheel as well, and you may have noticed that pelosi and reid are among many members feeling pressured by their own side.

in other times, the executive has taken the lead on important issues such as these, but that seems especially unlikely these days.

it's not hopeless...look at senate judiciary, where specter and leahy have led the charge for the return of congressional oversight. carl levin is doing yeoman's work; and on the house side, neil abercrombie or adam smith are two quick examples of pretty good legislators.

even dan burton and richard lugar, with whom i share little philosophical real estate, are members who come close to fitting my "fantasy" description.

Lord Nazh© said...

those are good examples FC, but the one I was talking about was the '3500' lives too late.

I presume that you are talking about going from pro-war to anti-war instead of changing policy to the current surge. If not, I retract my statement.

fake consultant said...

for more examples, consider some of the 133 who voted against the aumf in the first place:

abercrombie, for starters.
brian baird, the only psychologist currently serving in congress.
eva clayton, who, as we know from the original post, beat walter jones.
david bonior, who has been a legislator of respect for many years.

more? here's a short list: ron paul, delahunt of mass, barney frank (look at his work on banking as well), david wu, obey, inslee...

my guess? about 5-10% of congress today is at or close to the "fantasy" description-including knowing, 3500 troops sooner than others, just how bad this idea was.

fake consultant said...

regarding "flip-flopping" on the war:

i give kerry credit for changing his mind, but man, did he do a lousy job of explaining why.

edwards has admitted he should have done better, clinton seems to be edging twoard an anti-war stance; and, at least in the case of kerry and edwards, they saw their error in time to save many lives, had they been successful candidates. (at the end of november 2004, there were 337 us dead)

i think both answers cover those who knew 3500 lives early, and those who "came to the light" later.

i'm not aware of any members who changed their view immediately after the 2003 aumf vote, but that was not my point-the criticism was really directed at those who voted for the aumf, but will not change their minds now, despite more than sufficient evidence that this has been a massive failure from most objective obsevers' points of view.

Lord Nazh© said...

I give none of them credit for changing their views. They did it simply for the polls. If not they wouldn't be out parrotting the line that they were misled when each and every one of them had access to the same information (Edwards even went so far as to say that the information was what Clinton had when he was President).

They are not against the war because 3500 lives have been lost (a very small amount as wars go) they are against it because they think the voters will reward them for being anti-war and anti-bush.

When they claim a turn-around on the war vote BECAUSE they think they were wrong and that Iraq cannot be a free country, then maybe I'll give them credit.

fake consultant said...

edwards and kerry have both espoused the position that failure of the diplomatic and political tracks have led to a militarily unresolvable failure.

edwards said that here, in july 2007; and kerry said it in 2004 to the american legion here.

i find this position to be both intellectually reasonable and supported by the opinions of nearly all of the previously serving centcom and iraq commanders.

petreus gave a warning that the military effort could only be a fraction of what's needed to win in his confirmation hearing.

there is no reason to believe that any substantial diplomatic or economic success has occurred or will any time soon.

as to "following the polls": kerry has a long history of antiwar activism, suggesting his motives are not entirely opportunistic; and i've heard edwards discuss his own failure on this issue with a passion that i do not think is false.

maybe i'm being suckered, but i would suggest he really wishes he had been smarter.

Lord Nazh© said...

Go back and see what Edwards said before he found that passion. With as much passion he (and Kerry) said that Saddam must be stopped.

fake consultant said...

which takes us back to "people change their minds, and if they do it for the right reasons, i can support that", the starting point of the conversation.