Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Re: Does Howard Dean’s Ascension Mean Anything?

February 16, 2005
Re: Does Howard Dean’s Ascension Mean Anything?
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

I was recently talking to someone who agreed with me about a subject I’ve never heard mentioned elsewhere. To wit: what was the big deal about Howard Dean’s scream? To anyone who has ever played or followed certain sports, even at a sandlot level, Dean’s scream was not a big deal. We’ve heard it a hundred or a thousand times before.

If you want to learn of a real scream, a scream of a type you’ve probably never heard much less encountered, you should read Amos Oz’s description in A Tale Of Love And Darkness of the shout that went up from a large crowd of Jews who were all listening to a lone radio in a Jerusalem street sometime after midnight on November 30, 1947 (Jerusalem time), when the radio announcer, speaking from the General Assembly of the United Nations, said that the vote just taken on the partition of Palestine into two states, one being the resurrected State of Israel after 1900 years, was "Thirty-three for. Thirteen against. Ten abstentions and one country absent from the vote. The resolution is approved." Then, says Oz, the announcer’s voice was "swallowed up in a roar" in the hall, "and after a couple more seconds of shock and disbelief, of lips parted as though in thirst and eyes wide open, our faraway street on the edge of [his neighborhood] in northern Jerusalem also roared all at once in a first terrifying shout that tore through the darkness and the building and trees, piercing itself, not a shout of joy, nothing like the shouts of spectators in sports grounds or excited rioting crowds, perhaps more like a scream of horror and bewilderment, a cataclysmic shout, a shout that could shift rocks, that could freeze your blood, as though all the dead who had ever died here and all those still to die had received a brief window to shout, and the next moment the scream of horror was replaced by roars of joy and a medley of hoarse cries, and ‘The Jewish People Lives’ and somebody trying to sing Hatikvah and women shrieking and clapping . . . ."

Now that’s a scream. What Howard Dean did was a big fat nothing by comparison. What he did many of us have heard many times. So why the big deal about it?

Well, the big deal occurred because other Democratic candidates and the mainstream media simply would not allow Howard Dean to become the nominee, and therefore propagandized the country into thinking Dean’s scream was some sort of disqualifying shortcoming of personality or intellect. What other candidates and the media said, or propagandized, was a lie, but it worked. Now, however, Dean has become Chairman of the Democratic Party, so soon after he was said to be vastly deficient.

It brings to mind an episode which I believe I remember correctly. If memory serves (please inform me if it doesn’t), in 1900 the Republican Party bosses, the bosses of a party that was thoroughly corrupt and that ran a corrupt government, made Theodore Roosevelt Vice President because bosses thought it essential to get this reformer out of New York. Then McKinley got assassinated and boss Mark Hanna lamented, "Now look. That damned cowboy is in the White House." Now the "screamer," who thereby supposedly showed some kind of character defect -- now the only candidate who had the guts to accurately say at the time of Saddam’s capture that this was pretty much irrelevant and who was vilified for this correct view -- is the Chairman of the Democratic Party. ("Now look. That damned screamer is Chairman," so to speak.)

What can Dean’s ascension to the chairmanship mean? This blogger does not pretend to know. One can make guesses at possibilities, however. Maybe Dean’s ascension means, as one gathers Dean likes to say, that the Democratic party will go back to what it is said to once have been: a party that fights for the common man. Or maybe it means that this will happen because the Democrats now understand that Bush and his leading colleagues and some of his leading henchmen in Congress are truly bad human beings in crucial ways and, now understanding the character of their political enemies, Democrats have imbibed a deep draught of the courage needed to assail and fight the deficient human beings who widely populate the administration. Or maybe it does not mean a sea change among Democrats, but only a small change in how they act. Who knows? Politicians being what they are, one is reluctant to hope too much.

This blogger’s own views on what is needed substantively have been expressed here before, as has the idea that current attitudes may be so hopelessly entrenched that what is needed may not occur unless a third party arises -- something that Dean himself may one day discover, as Theodore Roosevelt did in 1912. What is needed, as said here in mid 2004, is "a reversion to the prior cultural values of honesty, competence, hard work, fulfilling one’s responsibilities, concern for others, modesty. Correlatively, there must be revulsion against lying, spinning, cheating, bragging, celebrifying, not caring about others, not performing one’s duties, and letting the phonies, the non-competents and the lazy get ahead by using the now prevailing cultural values." There must be rejection of the political right’s, the Bushian, "supposed ‘values’ such as unrestricted personal economic selfishness, unregulated devil-take-the-hindmost capitalism, imposing our views on the rest of the world by use of economic and/or military force, and imposing fundamentalist religious views and practices on other citizens by the force of laws and social pressure."

In terms of specific current problems, I suppose the needed cultural reversion might well lead to some of the following views, although in some cases there has to be much more discussion before one can really know what should be done:
• Probably there needs to be changes made in the social security system, but Bush’s claim of a crisis and his complicated plans for change seem more than a little fraudulent in a variety of ways.
• There must be a change in the federal income tax system, which is currently a morally and intellectually corrupt system that favors the very rich and harms everyone else.
• Governmental violation of the laws -- such as laws against torture -- and big business violators of law -- i.e., the large scale frauds and crooks of our economic system -- should have the book thrown at them.
• We should get out of Iraq.
• In all probability, many more doctors and "lesser" medical personnel should be trained as one means of improving healthcare and lessening its costs via competition. This could mean confronting the AMA.
• The idea of high standards of competence must be reintroduced into the academic world as a means of solving our serious educational problems, and people who want to work hard to meet those standards should be given needed assistance.
• Election laws must be changed so that intelligent, committed newcomers can have a decent shot at winning office, instead of our system being an incumbent’s dream.
• New federal judges should be people who possess and have shown some compassion.
Maybe Howard Dean will plump for such policies or other positions called progressive. If he does, maybe he might even succeed. Who knows? But at least one blogger thinks you can be pretty sure that, without a change in prevailing values, and without some form of progressive policies flowing from that change, we are going to continue to be in big (read Bushian) trouble.*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

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