Think Tanks' Compassionate Conservatism

As the toll mounts from U.S. political scandals, think tanks have provided new homes to some of the fallen. The Hudson Institute has appointed I. Lewis Scooter Libby as "a senior adviser." In October 2005, Libby resigned from his position as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, after being indicted on five counts including obstruction of justice. "Libby will focus on issues relating to the War on Terror and the future of Asia. He also will offer research guidance and will advise the institute in strategic planning," the think tank stated. In December 2005, Doug Bandow resigned from both his role at the Cato Institute and as syndicated columnist with Copley News Service, after revelations that he had accepted payments from lobbyist Jack Abramoff. On January 1, Bandow started as vice president of policy at Citizen Outreach, a group that favours "limited-government public policies."


Lately the nation's powerful think tanks have thought up some issues for us, carefully placing them in media outlets and megaphones to serve as our nation's "problem" issues.

One of these issues is the widespread problem of flag burning.

Another is the influx of immigrants, and how this might impact our fragile yet carefully-established echo chamber.

I'd like to have a word myself about these psuedo, let-them-eat- cake issues:

These carefully concocted non-issues are simply very tangible "anchor" issues which the public is "supposed" to grasp onto. They come with redi-made answers and require little or no personal assessment or thought. The issues and sub-issues are totally spoon-fed to the public by a Big Brother telling the masses to take their so-to-speak medicine.

We might call them "lollipop" issues, since they are nothing much other than a piece of candy for the public to be entertained by and to suck on and think that it is food. Let them eat lollipops.

We might call them "hump" issues, since they are pseudo-issues that create a pivot or launching pad for a particular candidate (or agenda) to swing an election, over some otherwise hurdle or hump of public dubiousness. They categorize the candidate, and launch the candidate over a certain "hump" of otherwise public skepticism.

Whatever they are called, it's all a waste. It ain't real life.

Here is a question for us all, about the irrelevant, pseudo, swing issues(eg. the widespread "problem" of flag-burning and where a candidate stands on this issue), which candidates use to hoist themselves up and over an otherwise skeptical public:

Let's look at history. In 1920's and 1930's Germany, a man who was a maniac and probably insane got elected. While the election might have been rigged, nevertheless many of his supporters were under the spell of what seemed at the time a very benign and harmless issue of race, and even this was based upon partial truths, such as the fact that like begets like, etc. I mean who is to argue that a daisy does not produce a rose. But is this really an election issue?

Anyway the question for us today is do we want to elect maniacs into office, simply because they have won over the public based upon some irrelevant "swing" issue?

Do we care more about burning symbols (flags) or sending innocent people to the electric chair over circumstantial evidence, because we couldn't get it figured out just what happened?

It is alarming how many prisoners were going to be executed for murders they did not commit, but DNA testing came along and proved their case.

Okay what is more important --- burning a symbol, or burning people at the stake? A symbol is nothing other than a symbol, and it involves freedom of speech. It is not a sacred cow.

Maybe I should be burned at the stake, in fact, since I once had a dream that the Statue of Liberty was lying down under water with her hands together in prayer (as if perhaps frightened, or maybe just exasperated --- I couldn't really tell), instead of standing tall with the flame held high. What if I had decided to turn that dream into art, or satire?