There was a hideous car accident on the Big Island in Pahala that killed five people. This sends our death rate on the highway to seven already, and it was zero last year at this time.
Good news: The whales are back! Our neighbors say there are a lot of them this year, and they are very active.
And there is a lot of whining going on on the right about what conservatives regard as Democrats' trickery (Beyonce's lip-syncing), double-dealing (furthering the Democratic agenda against their opposition) and downright aggressiveness (Hillary!!!) I think they are doing a pretty good job of self-destruction and need no help with the job.
But they could rescue their situation if they just stepped back and thought things out. I know thinking is bad and hurts one's head. Remember those pictures of Dubya trying to think? He looked so distressed. It must be bewildering to Republicans to realize that money can't buy everything. It's their faith, after all.
Republicans lived by the bottom line, stripping the middle class of assets and driving the poor into greater poverty. They poured resources into unnecessary wars and military expansion, because they thought that was the way to keep the economy revved up. They indulged themselves in patriotic propaganda and encouraged overt and covert racism among their followers and then were astonished that they lost the support of the electorate. They were stupid, in a word.
How can they recoup? Melissa Harris-Perry has said repeatedly on her program that we need a two party system for democracy to function. Obama has outsmarted the Republicans at every turn, and they are reacting like maddened bull elephants on stampede. But there are solutions, things they could do that would be of benefit to everyone.
First they need to redefine what they stand for. Traditionally, they have stood for family stability and continuity, upholding cultural values, widespread property ownership, small businesses, professionalism, social responsibility, public safety, just laws, and in general a civilized way of life. These are good things. Not exciting, to be sure, but necessary. Of course Democrats stand for these things, too and have been better of late in actually furthering these essential matters.
Unfortunately, today's Republican party has stopped caring about what happens to ordinary Americans. They have continued to think of themselves as the best people but have not been willing to broaden their class outlook and explain to the public what was good about their values. Instead, they welcomed in the goon squad in order to win elections but became hopelessly contaminated by association with their ideas. It was all over for them when they ran Sarah Palin with McCain. They tried again with that horse's neck Romney and his sidekick Ryan, but the public didn't buy it. So now the GOP lies in fragments.
If they stressed the aspects of good governance they were once known for they could win people back. Instead they alienate people with their attacks on unions, accessible health care, women's reproductive rights, gun control, and so on. Everything they seem to favor now pushes in the direction of instability instead of the stability they were once said to favor.
A similar process is at work in Great Britain, and there is some intelligent commentary that suggests solutions. A review article by Colin Kidd in the London Review of Books, The Darth Vader Option, discusses the fate of the Conservative Party and how it could redeem itself. (It is available only to subscribers, unfortunately.) I was struck by this passage:
William Waldegrave's The Binding of Leviathan (1978) is one of the neglected classics of Conservative political thought. Waldegrave later served as a minister in both the Thatcher and Major governments, but in the 1970's he recognised--as humanity as a whole will soon enough--the limits to growth and a future of scarcity. While Waldegrave defended private property, "as the best source of independent strength agaisnt the overexpansion of the state, and the surest source of stability in a community," he opted for co-operation over competition, and argued that "financial gain is the sole motivator of few in a sound society." Conservatives[ Waldegreve argues ] should evaluate policy by a far from Thatcherite criterion: "Does this policy tend to advance the chance of the citizen to live, work and play in the kind of communities which are necessry to civilised life?" Unlike the proponents of the turbo-capitalist perversion of Conservatism, Waldegrave displayed an acute psychological understanding of the basic loyalites necessary for social cohesion.
I haven't heard anything like that from Republicans for a long tme. Instead they have exploited all the worst aspects of American life: racism, militarism, patriotic chauvanism, religiousity, material greed, demonizing the poor: all the things that tear a society apart.
And here Kidd makes a really interesting point: "The environment was--or should be--the Conservative Party's 'natural territory.'" Couldn't conservatives get behind matters like population control, renewable energy, preservation of green spaces,etc. and make these their flagship issues? Redefining "conservative" to represent values of stability and continuity could do everyone a lot of good. Conserve, improve. I could get behind a program like that.