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December 19, 2012

Hyperbole, seriously

I watch the posturizing during the arguments over the expiration of the 2001/2003 Tax Plans, the triggering of the debt-related sequestration of spending cuts, and what is generally referred to as the fiscal cliff.

And I wonder -- how does so much hyperbole qualify as negotiation?

Each side has taken a public stance in which they declare that the other is "not serious" about the negotiations. Whenever someone puts a proposal forward, it seems mandatory that the other side must dismiss both the proposal and the person as "not serious".

I imagine that, were I on one of the sides, I would take a proposal, mark what I found acceptable, draw a red-line through what is unacceptable, highlight and question what requires further clarification and return the document. And I would expect the same response to any proposal I put forward.

If, instead, my proposal was dismissed publicly as "not serious", two things would be immediately clear:

(1) the complainer is not serious about their dismissal of the proposal; and
(2) it will be very hard to continue with another step in the negotiation.

I have not been involved in a public negotiation of this type -- ever. But I can hardly imagine that this is how it is supposed to proceed. Instead, it looks like a "reality show", in which the conflicts are scripted into the show in order to attract an audience and build a false tension.

This posturizing is insulting. It tells the public that this negotiation is a false, scripted, "reality show", and that we, the gullible audience, are being played as fools willing to be entertained.

Do they believe that kind of treatment of the public lead to Good Government? They're not serious.

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December 12, 2012

Remember, Remember, the 6th of December

In a certain dead space in my being, I admire the work they have done, their commitment, their skill. They set out to bring unions, women, immigrants, gays, and all non-white non-males to their knees.

They dedicated themselves to this for the past generation -- they looked at a 30, or 40-year timespan. The next election was just a marker, it meant nothing -- it was just a step on a long journey.

They planned the attacks, adjusted as the ground shifted. They gathered the weapons they knew they would need -- money, corporations, media, judges and of course legislators.

They whittled away at it, year after year -- attacks on women's health this month, on immigrants next month, on unions the month after, on public workers next, then on public schools, then back to unions, again on women's health, a quick attack on the United Nations, a little war here and there, then again on voting rights, some election rigging along the way ... on and on and on, drip by drip by drip.

They understood that every battle mattered, no matter how small. Every victory moved them forward, one inch here, a foot there, a yard then another six inches. Always inching forward.

They never gave up, never surrendered, never lost hope, never lost focus. They honed the message, established the vocabulary -- "freedom to work", "rights of the unborn", "illegal immigrant", "stand your ground", "defense of marriage", "welfare queens", "union thugs and bosses", "government is the problem", the "urban voters" -- "them", the ones who are "different", the ones who are "taking your jobs".

And when it came time to strike, they struck hard and they struck everywhere. All at once. Wisconsin, sure, but Indiana and Ohio at the same time, while there were other attacks in Florida, Arizona, and Maine. All at once, so that the other side could not concentrate their defenses. You slow them down in Wisconsin, but lose in Ohio and Indiana. Stop them in Arizona, but lost in Florida and Maine.

And then it was Michigan's turn. They understood the importance of striking right now, only 6 weeks to go before they lose some strength. So strike, strike fast -- we all jumped at the Right-to-Work-for-Less laws and drew 10,000 protesters. But they also passed anti-abortion laws the same day, one to forbid the offer of abortion coverage on Obamacare exchanges, one to allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions on grounds of religion and conscience. And, on the same day, they fashioned a new Emergency Manager law to replace the one that was repeals by the voters. And today they are pushing for the right to carry guns in church, at football games, in schools and in other crowded public places.

Striking now, hard, fast, widespread. It's hard to duck a buckshot blast.

See how they've done it. Patient. Focused. Well-planned. It is the stuff of a coup d'etat, not the stuff of revolution. Passionless. Systematic.

Can the opposition do anything like this?

Admiration for their skill. Hatred for their ends. Contempt for their motives.

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