Saturday, June 07, 2003

Saw Newt Gingrich's new book, Gettysburg, at Barnes and Noble. According to the jacket, it is the first of a trilogy investigating how things would have happened if Lee won at Gettysburg. I'll wait for the movie, if even then.

All the great "What If Lee Won At Gettysburg" scenarios assume that by 1860, slavery was born to die in the South. The "what if" scenario I never see is what if the South had won the war, or the Confederacy allowed to leave in peace, and the great clothing mills stayed in the South and were worked by slaves? What if the great steel mills stayed in the South and were peopled by slaves? What if the great auto factories stayed in the South and were peopled by slaves? I am so sure that Newt will explore these issues at length.

Someone was kind enough to read the first early entries of this blog-site, and raised the point of how bizarre it is that the Bushies would fight a war and lower taxes at the same time. Cutting taxes during wartime is philosophical and radical. It is a serious political statement, whether or not it is coming from Bush directly (which I believe it is in part, since only a person as rich as Bush could be so personally vested in the result that he is oblivious to the other side of it). It is also a statement which is neither liberal or conservative (which is why it is radical), and, I continue to insist, is better understood in the context of the 1860s than the 1960s (which is why it will eventually go too far, hopefully not before it causes too many lives).

Of course, it is also an attempt to kill the entire concept of government as an agent for good (which is another reason why Bush is so vested in it), and replace it with the older idea as government as an expression of pure power. That will fail also (many deaths from now), because the idea of a social safety net is not only (or even chiefly) the liberal idea that people deserve a hand, but the conservative one that says if you don't give the masses some crumbs, they will kick the table over, and trample the elite under it.

I do not think the response to Bush is to defend this or that entitlement. In some ways, it's besides the point, since it is technically possible to take care of a great many entitlements with tax breaks, or at the state or local level, keeping the actual cost of the Federal government in line.

I think the response to Bush, to Grover Norquist, to Tom DeLay's attempt to do a second reapportionment in Texas during the same census period, is that absolute freedom and absolute democracy only works for the very very few (one of whom would obviously be George W. Bush).

The current system is not absolutely democratic in order to insure that to the greatest extent possible, the people who live in it are absolutely free. No system on the table will enable the maximum number of people the maximum amount of freedom, except for the one we have.

I don't know quite how to get our proposed philosophy onto a postage stamp, although Bill Clinton once said, "If you want to live like a Republican, you have to vote like a Democrat." Nor do I know who the salesperson, the Ronald Reagan, of our philosophy is.

George Bush is looking for a country run by the richest, and the poorest can suffer. John Ashcroft is looking for a country run by those who profess to follow Jesus, and I do not know what gives anyone the right to claim themselves holier than thou.

Last time I checked, the blogsite sponsors (I have no control over it) are and Sponsors this week have included the publishers of Bush at War, the National Review, the Cleveland Institute (sic) and Edwards Lifesciences, who made my heart valve