A-Clue.Com, Democrat-itus , WiFi, Journalism, Clued-in, Clueless; newsletter of 10/16/2006- from Dana Blankenhorn at A-Clue.com
  by Dana Blankenhorn
Volume X, No. XLII

This Week's Clue: Democrat-itus

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This Week's Clue: Democrat-itus
SSP (Shameless Self Promotion)
Best of the Week
ZDNet Open Source
Clued-in, Clueless

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For the Week of October 16, 2006

For a democracy to function voters must have two legitimate choices.

Without at least two major parties, each willing to let the other rule, you may have democracy in name but you won't have it in fact. The willing passage of power from one side to the other is just part of this test. Leaders on both sides must know there are things they can't say, and actions they can't take, in the name of maintaining political power, or the system becomes a charade.

This message must also be internalized by their followers. The price of participation must be to acknowledge not just the legitimacy of dissent, but a willingness to give the dissenter power over you.

Thus I don't believe Japan is a functioning democracy. The LDP has never surrendered power. I question whether Mexico is a functioning democracy. The PAN, which finally won power in 2000, has not yet proven it is willing to let go of it. The jury is also out on South Africa, and dozens of other countries where one party dominates but democracy is claimed as the governing ethos.

This is a dirty secret most political scientists don't discuss. A dirtier secret of our most recent political Thesis, the Nixon-Reagan-Bush Thesis of Conflict, is that it rejects true democracy.

It's in the Thesis' founding myth, which is Watergate. The enemies' list, the dirty tricks, even the break-in itself, all speak to the fact that Nixon-era Republicans did not consider the Democratic Party to be a legitimate governing choice. While many rejoiced on Nixon's resignation, the plain fact is that the diseased heart of Nixonism still beat then, and still beats today. Dick Cheney, after all, was President Ford's chief of staff.

I was criticized for pointing this out a few months ago but it bears repeating. Those who follow this Nixon myth don't even name their opposition party. It's not the Democrat party, but the Democratic Party. All those in the Democratic Party are Democrats, but there is no Democrat Party. This false naming convention is a product of the Nixon era, its adherents retain it, and it's a good shorthand to whether the person you're listening to, or whether you yourself, may suffer from Democrat-itus.

The diseases that have infected the American system have multi-generational origins. Slavery, which nearly destroyed America 145 years ago, had been lying coiled like a snake beneath a table at the Continental Congress. This disease also goes back generations.

Its origins lie in McCarthyism, a tactic that was made part of the Eisenhower Anti-Thesis by Democrat Pat McCarran, by Joe McCarthy and by Nixon himself, among others.

In the fever surrounding the start of the Cold War, McCarthy and his followers projected Stalin's weaknesses into strengths, bought into them, and transformed them into an American political movement. The idea of widespread Communist infiltration, of the Democratic Party being "pink," was designed to make dissent from the McCarthy line into treason. It was designed to justify all kinds of speech, and deeds, done in the name of power that were inherently not just un-American, but anti-American, destructive to democracy itself.

Leaders like Nixon can't take all the blame for this. The disease was in all their rabid followers, who would have thrown up other leaders had these men seen what they were doing and tried another way. There were some, early-on, who correctly identified McCarthyism as a disease, as a direct reflection of our enemies and thus as our enemy itself, in our midst. But their voices were drowned out. In the case of the House Un-American Activities Committee they were, in fact, brutally suppressed.

As with Watergate, the passing of McCarthy led many to believe this was just a fever. But viruses are biologically clever. The absence of symptoms is not the absence of a disease process. Dormancy is not death.

All this puts our system in terrible peril, with the germ of McCarthyism now at the heart of power in Washington. When the President of the United States says in public that the Democratic Party "wants the terrorists to win," or Democrats "don't think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists," that is in fact terrorism. The intent of the President is to terrorize opponents into silence, and to terrorize his supporters into obedience.

In every political Thesis there is all kinds of excess. Some of it survives, and should, to become part of the next Anti-Thesis. Some of it, however, must be eradicated for the system to survive.

In the rise of the last Thesis, the legitimacy of mind-altering drugs, under the control of patients, was a part of the excess that was made politically illegitimate. Anyone who questions the control doctors now have over such substances, or who argues for new drugs to be added to the store of legal, self-prescribed medications, is automatically a crank, and will doubtless remain so for as far as we can see into the future. In the rise of the previous Thesis, the New Deal Thesis, it was the 130-year old idea of passive government, something at the heart of Thomas Jefferson's thinking, that was discarded.

In the rise of the Next Thesis, the Open Source Thesis, it is McCarthyism in all its forms which must be discarded. That doesn't just mean we vote certain people out of office. It means everyone accepts the boundaries of democratic thought. It means we redefine our democracy, not just as a Constitutional system, but as a system of norms, norms of speech and of action, tactics legitimate and illegitimate. Anyone who goes outside those norms becomes illegitimate, someone we will all treat as being Ted Kaczynski crazy.

The distance between that day and October 2006, with the lunatics in the halls of power, and in our heads, is an enormous political journey. But it is a journey that must be taken if we are to regain our democracy, and the trust of the world we have tossed aside these last five years. This is the heart of the current crisis.

We have to find a cure for Democrat-itus. And we have to spread that cure, which is the lesson of this era, to democracies throughout the world.

This is the legacy we owe our children. If you don't play nice, you won't get to play at all.


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Best of the Week

Not Everyone is Screwed

If you have a popular Republican Governor, you can hang on to him.

The Other Foley

The scandal which took down Tom Foley was the House Post Office Scandal. By today's standards the facts were tame, even quaint.

An American Tragedy

She brought all but the cancer on herself. Her paranoia drove the investigation. Rather than confronting the alleged leakers in the boardroom, or selectively leaking false stories to each director in turn (in order to find out which one got into the press), she essentially treated her own board as a group of enemy combatants. She had their identifies stolen, their phones tapped.

War With Britain (They'll Win This One)

The Bush Administration has declared war against the Internet, specifically that form of e-commerce known as gambling. A new law will force banks and credit agencies into cooperating with this war on commerce. Guess who leads this new industry? The British.

The Keynote From Hell

Epstein's Web page describes him as a libertarian. This is a lie. He is a statist, but of a peculiar sort. He prefers a private state, one owned by big business.

The Final Triumph of Internet Journalism

Brian Ross was clever. He wrote a short story for the network's Web site, from his own section of that site, and specifically for a "rumor" column called The Blotter. (The stories disappear after a few days, as more are piled on top of them.) As if by magic, ex-pages started e-mailing.

Always-On Comes to China

This is an Always-On medical application, which I called a "killer app.

Gerrymander Math

In an election that goes 55-45 the other way there may be one upset or near-upset, but little change. However, what happens when you get a 60-40 "wave" election, like the one that's heading the Republicans' way this time? Everyone is at risk.

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Payback's a bitch, ain't it?

The Rule of the Many

The more people you have in on a decision, the worse that decision will be. On the other hand, when you have many people making their own decisions, the greater the likelihood that one of those decisions will be outstanding.

Love in the Time of Schizophrenia

If you can keep your head while all about you others are losing theirs you just don't know the situation.

The Revolutionary

Howard Dean is the most important politician of his time.

Iraq Just a Battle

If your tactics are proven not to be working, should you not change the tactics?

No Immunity for War Crimes

If Saddam Hussein had his legislators, and courts, rule that his gassing of the Kurds was meaningless, he was still liable.



Georgia: Fleeing the (Political) Ghost of Roy Barnes

KY-4: Lucas One of the 50

Florida-16: Does Negron Stand a Chance?

Alabama: Democrats in Give-Up Mode

North Carolina: Sex and the Trailing Candidate

Georgia: Conservatives Want No Foley Spin

Tennessee: Bill Who?

Georgia: Could It Happen Here?

Kentucky-3: Dems Wishing for Yarmuth

Tennessee: Playing the Foley Card

Virginia: Allen Asks for a Do-Over

Atlanta: Franklin in Beltline Crisis

Georgia HD-81: At Least it's in English

Georgia: Perdue Goes All Sgt. Schultz

Florida 16h: Mahoney Ready for Close-up?

ZDNet Open Source

RedHat Seeks Low-Hanging Fruit in the Channel

Open Source Trickle-Down

Where are the Open Source VARs?

I Know I've Seen This Show Before

Open Source and the Mass Market

Blogger Learns how to Get the Money

The Achilles Heel of Open Source?


Clued-in, Clueless

Clued-in as I've said before, is Howard Dean.

Clueless is the way House Republicans handled La Cage Aux Foley. They turned a one-day story into the gift that keeps on giving.

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