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Kevin Phillips spoke in Alumni Gym, UTK

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Duppers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-02-06 10:17 PM
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Kevin Phillips spoke in Alumni Gym, UTK
This is from Judy Loest via my Knoxville friend:

>>
Last evening I went to hear Kevin Phillips speak in Alumni Gym, guest
of the UT Issues Committee. Phillips is the author of the recent
American Theocracy. I knew what he would say but went bc I felt he
might have a small audience here in Bush territory. There were about
200 people there, not even filling the auditorium halfway, mostly
academics and Unitarians. Thank God for Unitarians.

Phillips admitted a little trepidation about discussing religion in
TN, said his tour was arranged intentionally with the Atlanta suburbs
first, then Louisville KY, then TN. But he should have guessed that
his audience would not be made up of readers of the Left Behind
series.

He spoke two hours without notes, obviously despises the Bushes, but
also disgusted with Democrats. He seemed tired, as if he was just
doing this out of some moral obligation and was eager to get home to
CT. He was not here to make Michael Moore jokes.

A student asked if Phillips had any observations about the under-30
generation. He said that they are pretty much an enigma to him, but
one thing he was certain of is that they are going to have to worry
ahead unlike their parent's generation, that everyone pretty much knew
by the late 40s that the US was on the rise as a world power and life
would only continue to get better. The current generation does not
have that luxury.

Ed Patrick asked him to comment on the extreme left-wing bias of NPR
and PBS and would he consider coming back as commentator on NPR.
Phillips was quick to say that the Republicans have come down hard on
NPR since the late 70s, that the people at NPR always wanted him to be
softer in his criticism and he refused. He said there are not enough
critical things he can say about Bush, that when we look back and say
who lost America, it will be presidents 41 and 43.

Someone asked if he had any advice as to how the Democrats can
recover. He replied, "If you know of any Democrats with an ON and OFF
button, it's time to push the ON button. Other than that, I have no
advice."

A student asked how the US might stop the decline, and he replied
"Export lawyers. If you send 800,000 out of a million lawyers to
China, I bet you could change Asian history for a long time to come."
He didn't elaborate but a review of his '94 book, Arrogant Capital,
says:

According to Phillips, the failure of Washington politics "goes far
beyond simplistic talk of gridlock," The growing ineffectiveness of
American government is part of a larger "reversal of fortune" where
political and economic influence has shifted from the grassroots of
America to a new "guardian class" in Washington. Since the 1940s,
Phillips observes, Washington has become increasingly dominated by an
interest-group elite which is now so deeply entrenched and so
resistant to change that the proper functioning of government is
impossible. For example, Phillips points out that the District of
Columbia bar had fewer than a thousand members in 1950; today it has
over 60,000. The number of journalists in Washington soared from 1,500
to 12,000 over the same period. Since 1970, congressional staff has
nearly doubled. And one recent estimate put the number of lobbyists in
Washington at 91,000.

Phillips believes that the natural order of American politics and the
unique genius of the system is that "bloodless revolutions at the
ballot box" every generation purge the government of failed
establishments and create new ones. Although it is high time for
Washington to undergo one of its periodic renewals, the concentration
of interest-group power and today's "Permanent Washington" make that
impossible. Today, Phillips writes, our capital has become a city "so
enlarged, so incestuous in its dealings, so caught up in its own
privilege that it no longer seems controllable or even sway-able by the
general public."

Phillips draws a number of portentous historical analogies between
Washington and other great capitals that have seen the rise and fall
of power. He points to the degenerative corruption that pervaded such
cities as Rome, Athens, Alexandria, Hapsburg Madrid and The Hague.
"There is no point in mincing words," he charges, "aging great-power
capitals often become parasitic cultures" and today's Washington "is
beginning to resemble those wayward governmental centers of previous
declining empires."

One gray-haired, bearded guy in a suit, prob a law professor, prefaced
his question with, "By the way, I'm a lawyer, and if you know of any
jobs in Canada, I'm looking."

Phillips cited statistics for believers in end-times, 45% of
Christians and 55% of Republicans, and talked about the Left Behind
series by LaHaye. He said the Anti-Christ in those books is an oil
man with a French adviser. "Why do you think Bush doesn't talk about
oil and doesn't want anything to do with the French?" He said he
thinks Bush's religiosity is sincere, that he truly believes he was
appt'd by God but not Cheney. "When Armageddon comes," he said,
"Cheney will not be taken up; he will continue being Cheneyesque."

He said in the next 5-15 years things are going to get rough, whether
the economy is blasted by either a currency disaster, an oil stoppage,
a housing bubble, or another natural disaster, bad times are ahead.
He said we're already beginning to see the currency problem as more
countries are switching from the dollar to the Euro in oil and energy
transactions. The national debt, about $8 trillion, is coming due. The
bulk of the debt in the United States is private, which is to say
corporate, financial, mortgage, consumer. The national debt numbers
are huge, but the private debt is much worse. The international debt
that we have is about $4 trillion, and that's rising rapidly because
we have to import so much of the manufactured stuff we need, and so
much of the oil. "The Bushes have never been people that made money by
building things. They move money around."

From the comments afterward of people near me, I gathered that many
had not read the book because they seemed surprised by Phillips' grim
predictions for the future.

They were on his side but definitely more subdued as they left the auditorium.

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