Tuesday, June 12, 2007

HIDDEN ISSUES: THE DEMOCRATS' DISASTER

Sam Smith

Regardless of what one thinks of the Republican Party's policies, it must be admitted that as a political organization it has operated with frightening efficiency over the past quarter century.

And regardless of what one thinks of the Democratic Party's policies - or lack thereof - it must be admitted that as political organization it has operated with depressing incompetence and inefficiency over the part quarter century.

This is not something that is publicly admitted or discussed, but it nonetheless is true.

One need only look at the record of the current Congress - elected because of GOP entropy rather than its own virtues - to see the problem. Here, we have one of the most disliked presidents in history, one of the most disliked wars as well as a bunch of Democratic issues like the environment piling up in the living room and the Democrats in Congress are unable to take effective advantage of any of it. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has an approval rating below that of either Bush or Cheney.

The Democratic Party doesn't really exist as a coherent movement anymore. It has no clear agenda, its grassroots look as though sprayed by a herbicide, and its leaders - to use an antiquated and inapplicable term - have little interest in anything beyond their own election.

This is not really an ideological matter; it is more the result of incompetence, corruption and organizational chaos all happily denied by unfettered egos fed by lobbyists rather than their own accomplishments. Even the people who used to keep the party honest - the liberals - now only serve as elite enablers of the party's desertion of its popular base.

The results include not only an absurdly ineffective Congress but a presidential campaign offering a choice between the corrupt and the vacuous in first and second place.

If you strip away the politics from it all and you look at the two parties as competing Mafia mobs, you've got to hand it to the GOP. They really know how to control the 'hood.

The metaphor is not an unfair one. After all, a member of the Bush or Clinton Family will have been in the White House as president or Vice president for 28 years if Hillary Clinton wins, and it was almost that long ago that Bill Clinton started helping Vice President Bush's Contra operations out of Arkansas.

As for Harvard suit and establishment toy boy Obama, just remember that this is a guy who is such a coward that he was afraid to vote for a limit of 30% on credit card usury.

The solution for the Democrats' decay is not easy to come by. Worse, our laws make it virtually impossible for a new party to take its place. The Greens might have changed the politics of the country had they had spent more time on backyard politics and less on the presidential race. The liberals seem forever condemned to life as names on the databases of groups like Move On or Emily's List that promise salvation for a $25 contribution.

The only thing that might really change matters would be a movement that the establishment - including the liberal establishment - can't control. It must be decentralized, viral and have dreams rather than strategic visions. It happened with the civil rights, women's and peace movement, so presumably it can happen again.

In the meantime, it would help to recognize honestly and publicly the pathetic, corrupt and ineffective mess that Democratic Party has become.

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PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM

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Your editor has been a musician for many decades. He started the first band his Quaker school ever had and played drums with bands up until 1980 when he switched to stride piano. He had his own band until the mid-1990s and has played with the New Sunshine Jazz Band, Hill City Jazz Band, Not So Modern Jazz Band and the Phoenix Jazz Band.

NOTES ON THE MUSIC

Here are a few tracks:

SAM SMITH'S DECOLAND BAND

'SHINE' 

JELLY ROLL

PHOENIX JAZZ BAND

APEX BLUES   Sam playing with the Phoenix Jazz Band at the Central Ohio Jazz festival in 1990. Joining the band is George James on sax. James, then 84, had been a member of the Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller orchestras and hadappeared on some 60 records. More notes on James

WISER MAN  Sam piano & vocal

OH MAMA  Sam piano & vocal