Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Little People Sitting in the Stands

In response to the article that refers to most bloggers as "sitting in the stands and cheering" while a few hundred have "journalistic, lawyer-like experience", I would respond to that by saying your characterization is a little off the mark in my book. While some of us don't carry the "credentials" and don't pretend to demand the attention of the likes of Powerline, Captain Ed, Michelle, and the like, we are not "sitting in the stands".

May I repeat that? (or is this not journalistic prowess)

Searching for the truth and debating it with our "friends" on the left is no longer exclusive to the "credentialed" or for that matter to anyone. We do not profess to be "professionals", but many do their homework as diligently and as passionately as the "journalist" next door. Scanning twenty-plus MSM sites and a half dozen of our favorite blog sites before the crack of dawn, and then posting our own "little piece of wisdom" to our very own blog-sites gives most of us the satisfaction needed to sooth the ego, along with recording what we believe to be the debatable truth. Occasionally, some part of our research (over-looked by our journalistic professionals (JP's) is picked up and we get a pat on the back for being so diligent.

Most of us certainly don't do this for a living and have no desire to do so. I would like to think we all have a small stake in pursuit of the truth and the ability to use the " who, what, when, where, why and how" to authenicate it. I don't think I'm alone here, but I rarely think of myself as some one sitting in the stands. While Mr. Armor's article has merits defending this new world of bloggers, I believe the "food chain" may have had a few links cut off. Or maybe just missing.

posted by Rovin

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Have Body.......Will Travel....Sort of....

Don't let anyone tell you that just cause the body's beat doesn't effect the mind. Just returned from a seven day stint workin in Sac and I am so physically tired, my minds not feeling too fresh either. Thankyou all for the birthday wishes. Maybe turnin 53 had a bit to do with all this, but I'm hoping all it's gonna take is a few days rest and I'll be on all cylinders again. So much to git done in so little steps workin well now. Even reading some of my favorite political blogs hasn't got me fired up, so I know I must rest.


Saturday, February 12, 2005


This is Entertainment? Posted by Hello
(most MSM sites posted this story
in the business section)

CNN Exec Resigns


"I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces
accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise," Jordan said.


..............more to come (is there a copyright on "....developing"?)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

As the Cyber World Turns

I picked up this bit of irony off of Jack Shaffers post on
Jan 26th,2005 Titled "Blog Overkill"

Am I the only one who remembers how John Perry Barlow, drunk
on the Web nine years ago, issued his ridiculous "Declaration of
the Independence of Cyberspace"? In hyperbolic fashion, Barlow
wrote, "We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace.
May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments
have made before."

I believe the irony is found in the location which Mr. Barlow's
declaration was posted...........Davos, Switzerland , February 8, 1996

Were you listening back then Mr. Jordan???
Davos was biting you in the ass nine years
ago and your "fables" were not even written yet.


Monday, February 07, 2005

Monday News

Cousin Mark won the "big one" (final score) on a Superbowl pool. Somewhere round 2k. Congrats Mark!

Meanwhile his brother Tim got drawn for a halftime shot at halfcourt for a new truck at the Kings game on Tuesday nite....Hit the backboard Tim!! and good luck.

Have a great Day!.........................................Rovin

Friday, February 04, 2005

Welcome to the Weekend

I really liked this post so I will post it and do a Friday keyboard sabbatical.
(cutting and pasting is not a sin) :) .......Rovin


The Endless Party What do Democrats stand for? The real question is, what do they stand against?

BY WILLIAM VOEGELI Thursday, February 3, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

The epilogue of a presidential election is strangely like the opening chapter. Before the primaries there are several candidates. First this one is in the lead, then that one, and finally the party settles on the nominee. After the general election, the party that lost has to make sense of what went wrong. For a while one explanation gains favor, then another, and finally the party settles on the lesson to draw from defeat.
It's been only three months since John Kerry gave his concession speech, but the process of explaining the loss has already had phases. In the first and angriest one, the Democrats blamed the voters. Within two days of the election, Jane Smiley, Maureen Dowd and Garry Wills (among others) fingered the electorate's stupidity and bigotry as the decisive factor. Although a candid expression of what lots of Democrats really think, vilifying the people creates problems for a party that might like to win an election at some point in the future.
If it won't do to blame the voters, maybe the thing to do is blame the candidate. A variety of criticisms have been put forward. But few Democrats can work up the anger against Mr. Kerry that they directed at Al Gore after the 2000 election or Michael Dukakis in 1988. It's not that Mr. Kerry engendered more affection than his predecessors, or that he ran a much better campaign. Instead, the Democrats realize that it's pointless to keep blaming the candidate for the party's defeats.
Certainly, Mr. Kerry was not a perfect candidate. No one suitable for Mount Rushmore, however, was running in the Iowa caucuses. It's hard to see how any of the alternatives to Mr. Kerry--Howard Dean? Richard Gephardt? Wesley Clark?--would have done better in November. Political parties don't exist to nominate a new Pericles every four years. Their mission at the presidential level is to provide the institutional resources and political rationale that make it possible to win an election with a nominee who, inevitably, has flaws and makes mistakes.
The Democrats certainly did not lose because they (and allied groups, like and America Coming Together) failed at the nuts-and-bolts level of finding their voters and getting them to polling places. John Kerry received six million more votes than Al Gore. The problem, as Matt Bai explained in the New York Times Magazine, is that Democrats have believed from the time of FDR right up to the 2000 election that a majority of Americans agreed with them, were with them--and thus they could not lose a high-turnout election.
But in 2004 they registered and brought to the polls every prospective voter they might realistically hope to find--and still lost. It is clear, Mr. Bai wrote, that "turnout alone is no longer enough to win a national election for Democrats. The next Democrat who wins will be the one who changes enough minds."

By the process of elimination, then, a clear frontrunner has emerged in the race to explain the 2004 election: The Democrats lost because they couldn't change enough minds. But then, they can't change minds if they don't know their own. Even those who argue that the lack of a clear message was the Kerry campaign's chief problem go on to say that it reflected a larger confusion in the Democratic Party and, indeed, in American liberalism. According to Ryan Lizza in The New Republic, "The no-message critique is congealing into conventional wisdom." He argues that "the Kerry campaign had a laundry list of policy proposals, or, in the words of James Carville, a litany rather than a narrative." In his Washington Post column, Harold Meyerson wrote, "Cover the Democrats for any length of time and you become expert in campaigns that don't seem to be about anything. They have policies; Democrats are good at policies. But all too often the campaigns lack a message--a sense of what the candidate's about and what he aims to do." Ruy Teixeira, a co-author of 2002's "The Emerging Democratic Majority," a title that sounds ever more forlorn, said in a postelection interview that "Democrats have to have large and good ideas that people can recognize--ideas voters can sum up in a couple of sentences."
Many of the Democrats attracted to this explanation appear to have spent time in creative writing workshops. Everyone, suddenly, is talking about the crucial importance of the "narrative." "A narrative is the key to everything," according to Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg. Even Sen. Kerry's brother, Cam, said, "There is a very strong John Kerry narrative that is about leadership, character and trust. But it was never made central to the campaign."
The narrative of Democrats trying to find a narrative might be more promising, or at least more interesting, if it were fresher. The problem is the Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections, not to mention control of Congress in 1994, and have talked about the urgent need to redefine and re-explain themselves after every one of those defeats. It has been 24 years since that dim, unelectable extremist Ronald Reagan won a landslide against Jimmy Carter. A generation later, can there really be any promising ideas that haven't already been taken down from the shelf?

Here is what the Democrats have to show for 2 1/2 decades of introspection, besides a worsening win-loss record: After Walter Mondale lost 49 states in 1984, the Democratic Leadership Council was brought forth, conceived in panic and dedicated to the proposition that a politically viable party must become less liberal. In reaction, various groups and candidates have asserted that the prescription for Democratic victories is to become more liberal, to present the voters a choice, not an echo. It's hard to say who will win this tug-of-war, and twice as hard to see how either approach will reverse the Democrats' losing streak. The only other nostrum has been that of the neoliberals (once called "Atari Democrats"). To the extent their advice ever came into focus, it was that more liberalism or less liberalism, bigger or smaller government, was not the issue. Making government smarter--more effective, flexible and responsive--was. Gary Hart nearly wrested the 1984 Democratic nomination from Walter Mondale by baiting him about being beholden to such interest groups as the AFL-CIO. The hot public-affairs book after Bill Clinton's victory in 1992 was "Reinventing Government," now available in a remainder bin near you. Vice President Gore went on the David Letterman show with a hammer, a glass ashtray and safety goggles to demonstrate something-or-other about how the Clinton administration was making big government safe for democracy.
Most of the footprints left by neoliberalism have been washed away; the rest are fading. Bill Clinton, in seeking a Third Way, disparaged the false dichotomy between big and limited government. With the passage of time, Mr. Clinton's triangulation looks less and less like a political philosophy and more like a personality disorder, the type afflicting a man who thinks every dichotomy is false. (As Charles Kesler has pointed out, Mr. Clinton apparently believed that there was a Third Way between fidelity and adultery, and between telling the truth and lying.) Good government is, in any case, too small and banal an idea to settle the problem of the proper size and scope of the welfare state, and too slender a thread to tie together a majority coalition for the Democratic Party.

If the Democrats' current attempt to figure out what they stand for is going to be more enlightening than their previous efforts, they will have to grapple with fundamental questions, not peripheral ones. The gravity of the situation calls for architects, not housekeepers. The 2004 campaign, after all, was a single episode in a much longer narrative, the story of American liberalism trying to define and advance itself. What's curious is that although intellectual clarity has never been liberalism's strength, for a very long time this confusion did not cause any political problems. Almost 40 years ago, the political philosopher Joseph Cropsey observed that while its contradictions were "damaging to liberalism as a theory, [they have] not hindered liberalism as a political movement." "It is instructive," he commented, "to note how wide is the gap between theoretical sufficiency and political efficacy." The "no message" interpretation of the 2004 election claims that this gap has now closed, finally and completely: Liberalism cannot become politically strong again until it stops being so theoretically weak. But Democrats need to recognize how far back, and how far down, liberalism's confusion goes. The notion that liberalism is fundamentally indecipherable was voiced frequently during the 1930s, when liberals absolutely dominated American politics. Raymond Moley, an erstwhile advisor to FDR, wrote of the New Deal in his memoirs, "To look upon these programs as the result of a unified plan, was to believe that the accumulation of stuffed snakes, baseball pictures, school flags, old tennis shoes, carpenter's tools, geometry books, and chemistry sets in a boy's bedroom could have been put there by an interior decorator." In 1940 another New Dealer, the economist Alvin Hansen, admitted, "I really do not know what the basic principle of the New Deal is. I know from my experience in the government that there are as many conflicting opinions among the people in Washington as we have in the country at large."
But the complaint that it's impossible to figure liberalism out has, until recently, typically been voiced by exasperated conservatives. For decades they have watched liberals rushing around with wheelbarrows and ladders, busy, busy, busy at building the welfare state. New programs are created, old ones expanded, urgent needs discovered and rediscovered. Conservatives marvel at this vast construction site and ask prosaic questions: What is this thing going to look like when it's done? How big is it going to be? How will we know when it's finished? And just in case there's any doubt that they are conservatives, how much is all this going to cost?
The replies have not been illuminating. Their major motif has been soaring humbug. In 1943 Archibald MacLeish expressed liberals' hopes about realizing the "America of the imagination":
We have, and we know we have, the abundant means to bring our boldest dreams to pass--to create for ourselves whatever world we have the courage to desire. We have the metal and the men to take this country down, if we please to take it down, and to build it again as we please to build it. We have the tools and the skill and the intelligence to take our cities apart and put them together, to lead our roads and rivers where we please to lead them, to build our houses where we want our houses, to brighten the air, clean the wind, to live as men in this Republic, free men, should be living. We have the power and the courage and the resources of good-will and decency and common understanding . . . to create a nation such as men have never seen.One could discount this as rhetoric, considering that MacLeish was a poet by trade. It is, however, language that working politicians relied on as well. President Lyndon Johnson's speech in 1964 calling for the creation of a Great Society "explained" it in these terms:
The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But this is just the beginning. The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.

Parsing such blather might seem as pointless as it is cruel. But MacLeish and Johnson do reveal, inadvertently, truths about liberalism's meaning and its problems. First, conservatives' questions about the welfare state's ultimate size and cost are turned aside by rhetoric that emphasizes the processes and attitudes that go into building it. What's important, liberals say, is that the creation of government programs to promote social welfare be pursued in a vigorous, confident, optimistic manner, suffused with concern for the vulnerable and respect for the common man, unconstrained by the stifling precepts of the past. (Looking forward to an activist Kennedy presidency after the somnolent Eisenhower administration, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. wrote, "The '60's will probably be spirited, articulate, inventive, incoherent, turbulent, with energy shooting off wildly in all directions. Above all, there will be a sense of motion, of leadership, of hope.") Conservatives wonder if all this lofty talk is a smokescreen--they wonder, that is, whether there really are blueprints in a safe back at the central office, detailing the vast, Swedish-style welfare state that is liberalism's ultimate goal for America. The answer is, probably not. If that answer is correct, it then raises this question: Which would be more troubling--the existence or the absence of those blueprints? That is, should conservatives conclude that liberals pose a graver threat to self-government, freedom and prosperity if they have an ambitious but hidden agenda, or if liberalism has no master plan at all because it is, ultimately and always, an adhocracy?
Liberals have a practical reason why they won't say what they ultimately want, and a theoretical reason why they can't say it. The practical reason is that any usably clear statement of what the welfare state should be would define not only a goal but a limit. Conceding that an outer limit exists, and stipulating a location for it, strengthens the hand of conservatives--with liberals having admitted, finally, that the welfare state can and should do only so much, the argument now, the conservatives will say, is over just how much that is.
Keeping open, permanently, the option for the growth of the welfare state reflects the belief that the roster of human needs and aspirations to which the government should minister is endless. Any attempt to curtail it would be arbitrary and wrong. In his concession speech after losing to Ronald Reagan in 1984, Walter Mondale listed the groups he had devoted his political career to assisting: "the poor, the unemployed, the elderly, the handicapped, the helpless and the sad" (emphasis added).
This gets us to the theoretical reason why liberalism cannot incorporate a limiting principle or embrace an ultimate destination. Given mankind's long history of sorrows, most people would consider securing "abundance and liberty for all," ending poverty and achieving racial justice, a pretty good day's work. For LBJ it was, astoundingly, "just the beginning."
Liberal intellectuals who drew up the blueprint for the Great Society regarded peace, prosperity and justice as achievements that were not merely modest but troubling. They lived with a strange dread--that if Americans' lives became too comfortable, the people would decide that the country had been reformed enough, thank you, even though liberals knew there was still--always--work to be done. In 1943 the National Public Resources Board, which FDR hoped would chart the course for a renewed, enlarged postwar New Deal, advocated the recognition of various welfare rights, including the right to "rest, recreation and adventure." In a speech he gave to the Americans for Democratic Action in 1948, the group's first chairman, Wilson Wyatt, rejected "the view that government's only responsibility is to prevent people from starving or freezing to death. We believe it is the function of government to lift the level of human existence. It is the job of government to widen the chance for development of individual personalities."

The fear that liberalism would be thanked for its service and given a gold watch became more acute as the American economy soared after World War II. In 1957, the year before John Kenneth Galbraith published "The Affluent Society," Arthur Schlesinger tried to redefine liberalism's mission for such a society. He wrote that the New Deal's establishment of the welfare state and Keynesian management of the economy heralded the completion of the work of "quantitative liberalism." Its logical and necessary successor should be "qualitative liberalism," which would "oppose the drift into the homogenized society. It must fight spiritual unemployment as [quantitative liberalism] once fought economic unemployment. It must concern itself with the quality of popular culture and the character of lives to be lived in our abundant society." To speak of lifting the level of human existence suggests that there are higher and lower levels of human existence. Such thoughts imply a certain congruence between modern liberalism and the worldview of classical philosophy and the great monotheistic religions. But, of course, the rejection of those traditions has been crucial to modern liberalism, and to modernism generally. Plato poses, as the central question of philosophy, how shall we live? The liberal response, expressed most directly by John Stuart Mill, is that the question is unanswerable, and the practical imperatives of politics cannot be put on hold forever while philosophers debate it. Therefore, the only realistic answer, one that reflects both the need to find a way to live together and the futility of ascertaining the meaning of the good life, is that we should all live however we want, constrained only by the need to choose a "lifestyle" that does not interfere with anyone else's living the way he wants to live.
In "A Theory of Justice," John Rawls argued that "democracy in judging each other's aims is the foundation of self-respect in a well-ordered society." Rawls goes on to say that the person whose aims consist of counting blades of grass should not be denigrated but supported--that is, both praised and publicly subsidized. "Different strokes for different folks" is a meager philosophy, but also a coherent one. If liberals were content to leave it at that, they would at least have one large idea voters could sum up in a couple of sentences.
But they have never been content to leave it at that. Liberalism has never found a way to regard the "character of lives to be lived in our abundant society" with indifference, in the good sense of being tolerant, for fear of also being indifferent in the bad sense of being callous. The social critic inside every liberal cannot resist berating other people's unsatisfactory lifestyles--some are merely inane, others are actually menacing. Fifty years ago this scorn was directed at suburban split-levels. Today the target is evangelical churches. Meanwhile, the social worker inside every liberal cannot resist treating these unfortunate lifestyle choices as problems to be solved.

How does liberalism square this circle, embracing relativism while declaring that millions of nonliberals are "spiritually unemployed"? (It's hard to imagine anyone being more spiritually unemployed than Rawls's grass-counter.) The moral standpoint from which liberalism passes judgment is one it derives from John Dewey, for whom the highest imperative was "growth." According to political scientist Robert Horwitz, Dewey looked to "the bright promise of an evolutionary understanding of human potentialities, a view which presents boundless possibilities for development." The point of growth is more growth; the only standard by which we judge the direction of past growth is whether it facilitates or stymies future growth. It is in this vein that Johnson spoke of a Great Society where the government will enrich minds, enlarge talents and concern itself with monitoring our leisure hours to make sure we are constructive and reflective, not bored and restless. It is an agenda for which prosperity, liberty and justice are "just the beginning," and one which, constantly advancing the constantly evolving goal of personal growth, can have no end. Bill Clinton was fond of saying that character is "a journey, not a destination." But to leave home without a destination, convinced that the very idea of a destination is arbitrary and false, is to embark on a "journey" that will be no different from just wandering around. How, then, shall we live? The entirety of liberalism's answer is, according to Rawls, that it is better to play chess than checkers: "Human beings enjoy the exercise of their realized capacities (their innate or trained abilities), and this enjoyment increases the more the capacity is realized or the greater its complexity." Humans can rescue their lives from meaninglessness by striving, however they pass their days, to employ more rather than fewer of their talents, finding new ones and expanding known ones, to the sole purpose of being able to enlarge them still further, endlessly. We have seen the future, and it's an adult education seminar, where ever-greater latitude is afforded to ever-smaller souls, and where freedom means nothing higher than the care and feeding of personal idiosyncrasies.
As an ethical precept this position is risible. As the basis for social criticism, it is infuriating. This is the standard by which liberals judge us to be spiritually unemployed, the basis on which they are going to lift the level of our existence? Many Democrats lament that Republicans have been successful in getting working-class Americans to vote "against their own interests," by stressing social issues like abortion and gay marriage. Thomas Frank wrapped an entire bestseller, "What's the Matter with Kansas?," around this idea. It's a "false consciousness" diagnosis that betrays rather than describes the Democrats' problem: the smug assumption that we know, far better than they do themselves, the "real interests" of people who live in dorky places and went to schools no one has heard of.

As a political philosophy, the belief that "it is the job of government to widen the chance for development of individual personalities" is not merely lame and insulting, but dangerous. The endless widening and development of our personalities will require and legitimize the endless widening and development of our government. The threat goes beyond taxes, spending, borrowing and regulating that increase without limit. It culminates in a therapeutic nanny state that corrupts both its wardens and its wards. Convinced that they are intervening, constantly and pervasively, to assist the growth of people who would otherwise stagnate, the enlighteners don't need coercion to enfold the people in a soft totalitarianism. The objects of this therapy, meanwhile, may grow accustomed to it, and ultimately prefer being cared for to being free; or conclude that being free has no value apart from being cared for. Lyndon Johnson gave one other memorable speech in 1964. At a campaign rally in Providence, R.I., he climbed onto his car, grabbed a bullhorn and summed up his political philosophy: "I just want to tell you this--we're in favor of a lot of things and we're against mighty few." The Democrats' problem is not that they, like "Seinfeld," are a show about nothing. It's that they are a show about everything, or anything. (At one point, the Kerry-for-president Web site referred to 79 separate federal programs he wanted to create or expand.)
Ruy Teixeira says that after 2004, "the bigger question is: What do the Democrats stand for?" Here's a better and bigger question still: What do the Democrats stand against? Tell us, if indeed it's true, that Democrats don't want to do for America what social democrats have done for France or Sweden. Tell us that the stacking of one government program on top of the other is going to stop, if indeed it will, well short of a public sector that absorbs half the nation's income and extensively regulates what we do with the other half. Explain how the spirit of live-and-let-live applies, if indeed it does, to everyone equally--to people who take family, piety and patriotism seriously, not merely to people whose lives and outlooks are predicated on regarding them ironically.
Until those questions are answered, until Americans have confidence about the limits liberalism will establish and observe, it's hard to see when the Democratic narrative will again have a happy ending.
Mr. Voegeli is a research fellow at the Claremont Institute. This article appears in the Winter issue of the Claremont Review of Books

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Social Security Reform is the Wrong Battle for Democrats

If the folks on the left side of the aisle have any common sense, they may want to look carefully into their actions when it comes time for SS reform to hit the table. Most of the people in this country understand it is a major problem that needs to get fixed now and not left for some other legislature to tackle. It is also understood that the longer we wait the bigger the problem will get.

If the Democrats get out their old playbook and decide to use this as a "wedge" issue, we will see all the similarities (and outrightlies) of the Balanced Budget Amendment presented by the Republicans in 94. You will hear statements from the left like"The Republicans are trying to take food off the table of SeniorCitizens", "Gutting the SS system will leave nothing for our Children", Hell, let's throw in an absurdity like "the whole revamping of the SS system is a Halliburton conspiracy". You get the picture. If it's one thing the left has not forgotten how to do, is produce doom and gloom fabrications and scare tactics.

note: ( replace previous paragraph with actual statements by the left in two or three days)

We will all have to understand that the left is looking for a soapbox to stand on a.s.a.p. so they can get "their message out".Maybe with the help of the MSM it will be another stumbling block. The American public understands this is a future nightmare that can be repaired now, and a promise of a more secure and profitable system left for our children's future is the right thing to do. If (when) the Democrats choose this issue for a fight, they will be doing it for the benefit of their own selfish party and not for the good will of this country.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Who's got it more together?

"The Shiites and Sunnis will get together on forming a constitution before the Democrats and Republicans will get together on social security reform".................... Zell Miller (D) 6:09 PM 2/1/2005

The State of the Nation

Tomorrow the President will be addressing the nation on where we stand and how we move forward. Bold new plans will be introduced and some will be met with strong resistance from the left side of the isle. The "stabilization" of Iraq should give G.W. a little clout and may let him shift gears to push serious issues such as Social Security reform, (which needs to be fixed now, Ms. Polosi). Instead of submitting ideas to help in reforming the system, the Dems appear to be posturing to make this a "wedge" issue. Expect to hear rhetoric and fear speech along the lines of "the rich will be taking food out of the seniors mouths" and "privatizing will only put the system in jeopardy". Most of us know the system will be in the "red" by 2016 and the denial of some should not hinder the changes necessary to fix it. (note to Dems: try to find a cause worth fighting for and you may get some credibility back) For the first time a sitting president is willing to take on what has always been labeled as the "hot potato" no one ever dared to touch because it was always feared to be a "death-nell" to political careers. For the good of the nation, restructuring is a must and the Democrats should find another issue worth standing up against. To use this issue to fight will send them down the road of despair and doom and gloom, and more negative thought which the majority of Americans just aren't buying anymore. Step up, step forward, or just get out of the way.